Renault confident of fixing ERS issue
Renault says there confident they can fix their problems they have with the ERS systems which harmed the teams and their customers during pre-season testing.
The French manufacturer has overhauled the power unit over the winter, aiming of closing the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari, as well as giving them an initial performance boost of 0.3s per lap, but open up a new avenue development that will allow similar gains throughout the season.
However, in testing, all the Renault powered teams Red Bull, Toro Rosso, and Renault encountered problems with the MGU-K and ERS overheating. But the teams engine technical director, Remi Taffin says a fix already in the pipeline for the first race.
He told ESPN “We have a completely new power unit for 2017 and we have been mileage-limited with an element on the ERS side this week. We saw some similar issues in development on the dyno, however testing on track has magnified this.
“Fixes are already underway and we expect to have them in place for Melbourne so we achieve the appropriate level of reliability for the start of the season, however, this impacted on our running in Barcelona.”
Once the fix is in place managing director Cyril Abiteboul, says the team should have a good car to build on for the season. But there are areas which they need to address.
However, Abiteboul added “ We think we already have a good step forward with performance thanks to this car and the new power unit as shown by our lap times despite adverse circumstances that prevented optimising the package. We have to focus on reliability”
Red Bull and Ferrari genuine rivals
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton says that he is expecting that Red Bull and Ferrari will be genuine rivals to the team at the first race of the season. The German team have dominated the sport since 2014, but that dominance is now under threat.
Ferrari has appeared to be the closest challenger to the silver arrows, with Red Bull not far behind both on single laps and long runs. However, Ferrari has looked strong in testing only to fall away during the season. There are widespread rumours that Mercedes are yet to turn up the engine to its full potential.
Hamilton told ESPN “They [Ferrari] have been doing a fantastic job and I think there’s more to come from them. I think their pace this week has been spectacular.”
“I think Red Bull are still there, I don’t know if they brought their upgrade package here this week but usually they bring it for the first race, so I expect us to be having a real serious battle with both these teams.” he added.
Testing isn’t a reliable indicator of form and should always be taken as a guide, as teams run heavier fuel loads and lower engine settings to mask the real performance of the cars.
Hamilton says he doesn’t enjoy sandbagging during testing because he doesn’t feel there is a benefit to it.
Too early to predict if we can beat Mercedes – Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen says it is too early to predict whether Ferrari is capable of beating Mercedes this season but admits the team is in a “much stronger position” than a year ago.
Ferrari last year appeared strong in winter testing, only to finish the season without a race win and finishing third in the constructors. Raikkonen finished the test fastest by seven-tenths and Ferrari he says has made a step forward with their SF70-H and praised his team’s work.
He told Sky Sports “There are a few small issues but if we look a year ago, we are in a much stronger position. The car is very reliable, you expect small things to be happening when you are pushing the car to the limit. The guys have done an amazing job.”
“Our first feeling is it’s nice to drive. Are we going to be fast enough in the races? I don’t know. It’s early days still but compare one year ago to here, we have to be positive with how we have gone forward as a team and as a group.”
With just under two weeks until Melbourne, a close battle between the Ferrari and Mercedes is predicted by both Valtteri Bottas and team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The Finn has admitted Mercedes “can’t be confident” about sealing a fourth straight crown this year.
Haas hoping to test breaks in Bahrain
Haas are hoping to test new breaks for their Formula One car from Carbone Industire during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Last season, the team blamed the lack of consistency with Brembo breaks for not scoring points regularly.
However, a switch of suppliers isn’t straight forward because wider breaks disks would need a wider design overhaul, meaning Haas are trying to work with Brembo to try and find a solution.
Following testing, Romain Grosjean said “I can’t live with the weight of brake issues. It clearly is something key for me and I struggle a lot because of that. Now, we’ll try to work at best with people at Brembo to find solutions.”
Despite the target of Bahrain, the team are hoping to bring this forward to China.
Grosjean added “I can’t live with the weight of brake issues. It clearly is something key for me and I struggle a lot because of that. Now, we’ll try to work at best with people at Brembo to find solutions.”
Team principal Gunther Steiner says the issues with breaks are not enough to wary the team, but the solution was short term and not ideal.
Difficult to get into Q3 in Melbourne says Sainz
Carlos Sainz Jr believes it will be difficult for Toro Rosso to get into Q3 at the Australian Grand Prix as its rivals have made “massive steps” over the winter.
The Italian team are looking to push their way back up the order after they finished seventh in the constructor’s championship. Also, the team had a mixed winter testing with Renault reliability issues hampering the opening week, though it recovered to finish third on the final day.
Many are predicting a tight fight behind the top three, and Sainz thinks Toro Rosso will struggle to make the top-ten qualifying shootout at the opening round as a result. He told ESPN “I honestly think that the others have done also massive steps Force India, Haas, Renault in particular, compared to last year”
“Williams is flying. So it is going to be a very very tight fight for P5 in the championship, or to be the fifth-fastest car in Melbourne — so to get into Q3 will be extremely difficult.” He added.