Honda relief that McLaren deal is over
Former Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa says that it is a relief that the teams difficult relationship with McLaren is over. This season the British team grew increasingly frustrated with the Japanese manufacturer who struggled with reliability for the third season in a row
The two agreed that their partnership would come to an end at the end of the year, with McLaren switching to Renault and Toro Rosso switching to Honda from Renault. Speaking shortly before his removal from the project, Hasegawa “relief, yes. It is good to concentrate on next season.”
Telling Autosport “You might not believe us but I don’t think we [McLaren and Honda] have a human issue. We have a very good relationship with McLaren. I don’t feel anything like it’s [a] fresh [start], it’s just up to us to concentrate now on making our engine better.”
He said Honda still has huge pressure from the inside and out, but was confident that the relationship with Toro Rosso will work and was exciting. Hasegawa described Toro Rosso as a new challenge and it was important to create new relationships.
However, he added that “As I’ve always mentioned we have no plan to modify the engine concept so from that point of view we’ve already started next year’s engine development. So it’s not a big difference actually for our development group.”
Hasegawa said it was a shame the McLaren-Honda partnership could not continue, but Honda’s focus is now on improving its reputation. “Of course it’s unfortunate they decided to choose a different engine for next year.”
He said they respected the decision and they needed to be a strong manufacturer for other teams to chose Honda.
Hartley admits he crumbled the first time
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley has admitted he “crumbled” when he first had a chance at a race seat in Formula One with Red Bull. The New Zealander made his debut with the team this year and is set for a full time race seat next year.
That was despite Hartley being dropped from the Red Bull programme in 2010. Speaking in an interview in the latest episode of Motorsport.tv programme The Flying Lap, Hartley accepts he was not experienced enough for that first opportunity.
Saying “I wasn’t ready at that point. I have big respect for the likes of Max [Verstappen], who has come in at the age that I was. I had a real opportunity to be there, but when it came down to it I didn’t have all the experience that I needed and maybe support and I crumbled when I shouldn’t have.”
Hartley believes despite missing out on a seat in 2010, he is a “more rounded” driver, having learnt from that.
Mercedes not ruling out challenge from Renault and McLaren
Mercedes are not ruling out McLaren and Renault to be a significant challenge to their domince of the sport next season. The Silver Arrows have won four back to back constructors and drivers championships since the introduction of the hybrid power units in 2014.
However, team boss Toto Wolff will be wary of Ferrari and Red Bull next season as they were a lot closer to Mercedes this season. He is also wary of McLaren next season because they are switching to Renault power next season.
Speaking to F1.com, Wolff said “We mustn’t discount anybody. Today, as it stands, it looks like Ferrari and Red Bull. I am curious to see where McLaren and Renault come out.”
“I wouldn’t write anybody off. The rules will stay the same so it could be a very competitive season. I guess we will see a fight between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing – and maybe McLaren-Renault will join us in the title fight. That is an exciting outlook for the fans.”
Wolff said on Monday, he wanted needs “disruption” between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas so that the team can perform at the highest level. He went further adding “We are a racing team and an effective racing team needs tension, stress and disruption as much as it needs calmness and a positive mindset.”
Mercedes focus over the winter will be focusing on solving the ‘diva-ish’ tenancies of the 2017 car, as it proved inconsistent at some low speed tracks. Wolff added “It was a capricious diva. Next year we would like to keep the diva but get rid of the capricious character.”
Unfair to pander to current manufacturers
FIA president Jean Todt says it is “unfair” on Formula One for the manufacturers to overlook what they want and to pander too much to potential new manufacturers and teams.
Three of the four current manufacturers Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari all speaking out against ideas they fear will lead to a dramatic increase in costs. However the FIA and Liberty Media are aware that if they don’t change the rules they is little hopes of bring in independent manufacturers.
However there is hope that a soulution that will please both the current and independent manufacturers, like Ilmor and Cotsworth, can be found. Tost has made it clear that it would be a mistake to ignore the investment that current manufacturers have made in the turbo hybrid era in favour of companies that may not be able to afford to enter F1 anyway.
He told Autosport “What I feel would be unfair would be to undervalue the existing engine suppliers involved, and listen to those who may think they will come.”
“For me, it is important in light of the existing situation to see what will be the best evolution of the engine for the future, but by respecting the investments of those who have made the investments so far.”
The Frenchman was a key supporter of the turbo hybrid engines, but acknowledges they have not managed to deliver in all areas. He beliefs that improvements are needed over sound, costs and complexity that make an evolution of the engine rules essential for 2021.
“If you ask me what I feel about the engine, it has been one interesting exercise, I think it is too complicated. I think it is too expensive.” But added that it was probably a very good step to go and the new engine should be about evolution.
Todt is against a completely new engine and says the manufacturers need to get some reward from the current engines. But, Formula One also needs to encourage new manufacturers.
Sirotkin now favourite for Williams
Motorsport.com says it has learnt that Sergey Sirotkin is now the favourite to drive alongside Lance Stroll at Williams and that Robert Kubica is no longer in contention for the seat.
Williams has spent the last week analysing the data gathered during the tyre test in Abu Dhabi, where they ran both Sirotkin and Kubica. While Williams have been impressed by the Poles feedback, it has emerged that on pace and pure performance alone the Russian is the stronger candidate.
It is understood now that the contract talks with Sirotkin are now at an advanced stage, but there are several finer details which still need to be agreed. The Russian is also said to bring backing of £15 million from the SMP Bank.
Should that fall through its understood that former Red Bull and Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is the preferred back up option. It’s also believed that reserve Paul di Resta, who stood in for the injured Felipe Massa in Hungary this year, is also out of the running.
Williams is remaining tight-lipped and not making any official comment regarding its 2018 driver line-up.
Wehrlein deserves place in F1 – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Pascal Wehrlein has delivered “exceptional” performances on track and deserves his place in Formula One.
The Mercedes junior driver has lost his seat to Charles Leclerc at Sauber, with Sergey Sirotkin likely to seal the remaining seat with Williams. That has forced Mercedes to look at other racing programmes for the German next season.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Wolff said “Pascal is in a difficult position because there is not really an open spot for next year if Williams door closes. He deserves to be in Formula 1, he is a very good driver.”
“On track his performance was exceptional, and for many other reasons that go much beyond the driving the doors haven’t opened like we would have hoped.” Wolff added that he believes that Wehrlein has the potential to be a successful F1 driver.
We wish all of you a very happy Hanukkah and we will be back again tomorrow evening