Sainz signs a provisional Renault deal
Autosport says it has learned that Carlos Sainz has signed a deal with Renault which should trigger a domino effect which will see McLaren switch from Honda to Renault power next season.
While McLaren progress on its switch of power unit suppliers hasn’t seen much progress in public, behind the scenes there have been developments which appear to show its succeeding. Senior sources say that a deal has been agreed to allow Toro Rosso to switch to Honda, so McLaren can have their Renault power unit.
During the last few weeks, it has been increasingly clear that Sainz was becoming a major player both in the driver market and with the McLaren-Honda situation. Renault was also indicating that they wanted some incentive for switching its customer supply from Toro Rosso to McLaren.
Though it’s a provisional deal, Renault sources suggest that Sainz could switch to Renault for the Malaysian Grand Prix if the outfit elects not to continue with Jolyon Palmer. If that development happens from Sepang, then it is likely that Pierre Gasly will join Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso.
But, Toro Rosso is yet to make a decision about Sainz replacement from 2018. One name in contention would be Honda junior driver Nobuharu Matsushita, who will likely be released from his McLaren development driver role.
For that to happen, Matsushita would need a strong finish to the Formula Two season and needs to have a strong end to his 2017 Formula 2 campaign to secure third place in the championship to get the required 40 points to step up.
The Sainz-Renault deal has cleared the way for Toro Rosso to complete a switch to Honda engines, with the Faenza-based team also taking a supply of McLaren gearboxes for the to use with the Japanese company’s power unit.
We will be behind – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix will favour the team’s main rivals Ferrari and Red Bull.
Ferrari is currently sixty-three points behind Mercedes, but the circuit is expected to play to the hands of their rivals because they have performed stronger on low-speed circuits this season. While Red Bull is expected to go well and took tactical grid penalties in Italy in preparation.
While Mercedes has been ahead on high-speed circuits, it has struggled to perform on tight and twisty circuits which have allowed Ferrari and Red Bull to take wins. Wolff told Motorsport.com “So far this year, we have seen the pendulum swing according to circuit type. On the surface, Singapore is the kind of circuit that should favour both Ferrari and Red Bull.”
“Both have shown strong performance on low-speed circuits demanding maximum downforce, and we have found life more difficult at those places in 2017. Sometimes, characteristics like this are simply in the DNA of a car.”
Wolff added that the team has learnt its lessons from the struggles in Monaco and they have made good progress in understanding why it has these issues, he concedes this track still remains a challenge for his outfit.
“Identifying clearly our strengths and our weaknesses has been a strength of our team in recent seasons. We have put the finger in the wound in order to understand the root causes of both our good performances and the bad ones.”
Sauber plans to increase work force by quarter
Sauber team principal Fred Vasseur says that the team are going to increase their workforce by a quarter in a bid to make it back into the midfield next season.
Vasseur is currently overhauling the team after his appointment as team boss earlier this year and following his moves to secure the latest Ferrari power unit, has turned his attention now to staffing. Sauber is the smallest team on the grid, with around 320 staff, but the Frenchman wants to increase every department and particularly aero.
He told Motorsport.com “”The number we are is too small. We have to grow up, we have to grow up in each department, mainly in aero. More or less, that  will be the target.” Vasseur used the example of the recruitment he over saw at Renault as an example.
One problem Sauber has is being based in Switzerland while most teams are based in the UK. This means that it has struggled with recruiting staff, but Vasseur is not daunted by the challenge.
Budget cap entirely possible – Szafnauer
Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says a budget cap of £113 million is entirely possible in Formula One and could be successfully policed by the FIA.
Both the FIA and Liberty Media are looking at ways of reducing the amount it costs to compete in the sport and a budget cap has been suggested but was blocked by the teams. However, a self-imposed resource restriction agreement ultimately failed.
Budgets between the teams vary hugely, from Force India who spends roughly £91 million a year to Ferrari who spends £227 million pounds a year.
Szafnauer says that in order to introduce a budget cap it would need time as bigger teams would need to reduce the operations in line with the cap. He told ESPN “Say the cost cap comes in a couple of years and there are people spending $250 million and have 1,000 employees and then suddenly you say next year 100 million less.”
“You might have to get rid of 300-500 employees and that’s a difficult thing to do. We’ve got to be pragmatic. I personally think that if we say $150 million, that’s a lot of money to go racing.” He says that half of us do that already.
The reason why the manufacturers don’t want a budget cap is that they would move development to a different area of the company that is not regulated by the FIA. But Szafnauer believes F1 has the potential to self-regulate a budget cap by relying on whistle-blowers
Williams’s to miss remaining races
Williams has announced that both team principal Sir Frank and his daughter and deputy team principal Claire Williams, will miss the remaining races of this season.
Ms Williams is about to head off on maternity leave, while her father is unfit to travel. Sir Frank is unfit to travel due to ill health and is confined to his home. Ms Williams told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag “When I see how my family has changed, I miss that my parents are no longer here (at the F1 circuits).”
“I grew up here and remember that Mum and Dad were always here, and now they’re not anymore. It’s just me.” She says his whole life has been and continues to be Formula One, it’s a shame he can’t travel.
Ms Williams says she “will never let go of my dream of Williams winning again.” However, admits her dream will be an uphill fight as there are many forces against the team.