Renault underestimated development gain
Renaults F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul admits that the manufacturer underestimated the development potential of the current engine regulations and says that they will take bigger risks to rectify.
The sport is in the fifth season with the current V6 turbo-hybrids, and since the introduction in 2014 Mercedes have dominated the sport. However, this season, the advantage that Mercedes have had since then has been radically reduced with Renault and Ferrari beating them on track.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Abiteboul says that Ferrari’s gains have made it clear that Renault needs to be more aggressive with their development. The Frenchman said, “I believe indeed that we underestimated the potential of the current engine regulations, let’s put it this way.”
“We are now four years into this engine regulation and after four years you would expect that you would see the flattening out of the development curve.”
“[We] sort of saw that from Mercedes. Without opening up a different debate, we have been amazed by Ferrari’s very recent improvement, which shows it’s possible.” Abiteboul says that they don’t know how Ferrari have made that step, but the need to “take more risks, but those risks obviously have to be mitigated because we cannot afford to come with a product that is compromising reliability.”
Renault has made steps forward this year but has failed to break through into the top three teams. Abiteboul says that despite The improvements, the gap still isn’t closing.
Abiteboul believes taking more risks will help the Viry side of the operation make bigger strides, he reckons Enstone trails the resources at Mercedes and Ferrari by “30%”. Renault is likely to keep expanding its design base, but a possible budget cap as part of F1’s 2021 overhaul means Abiteboul is cautious of relying solely on investment.
McLaren want Vandoorne to beat Alonso
McLaren says that they need Stoffel Vandoorne to beat his teammate Fernando Alonso more, as the beginning to weigh up their options for next season.
The Belgian scored a point on his debut when standing in for the Spaniard in Bahrain 2016, which earnt him a full-time race seat replacing. Jenson Button the following season. However, Vandoorne has struggled to score as many points as Alonso, this season he has only managed eight compared to Alonso’s forty-four.
Speaking about the Belgian, CEO Zak Brown said “I wouldn’t say we’re disappointed by Stoffel. You’d like to see him beating his teammate more often than he has. That’s the same in any situation.”
“You’d love to see your teammates split right down the middle in beating each other every weekend. He’s not been able to do that on a regular basis but I wouldn’t say we’re disappointed because last year we know we gave him a very difficult situation and this year we’ve not given him a very good car to work with.”
Brown says that given Alonso’s abilities to adapt he believes that Vandoorne has done an excellent job, but the team would like to beat him more often.
Vandoorne had a much stronger race in Budapest where he was able to fight through to the points, however, was forced to retire with a gearbox problem.
McLaren has struggled with wind tunnel correlation issues this season, meaning that the car has had an aerodynamic deficiency. This had led to a lot of experimentation during the race weekends, sporting director Gill de Ferran believes that hasn’t helped with the gap between Alonso and Vandoorne.
De Ferran said, “We’ve been trying to figure out how to progress with the car and how to address some of the balance issues that we’ve been having. As a result of that, not only is the car not an easy car, but we keep changing things at a very fast pace.”
Grosjean believes he turned a corner
Romain Grosjean believes that he has turned a corner in the run-up to the summer break following his difficult start to the season. The Frenchman’s season has been marked with a high number of errors which has cost him points.
His Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen has been more consistent in the first half of the season and is almost a race win ahead of Grosjean. Despite his teammates lead, the Frenchman believes his fourth place in Austria and two points finishes in Germany and Hungary, has left him feeling like he is ”back on a good path” going into the second half of the campaign.
Asked by ESPN, about his future, Grosjean said “Nothing has changed. We are both grown up. As I said a few times I think the team knows what I’ve brought since day one, and I know I haven’t delivered what I should have delivered in some races this year.”
“Hopefully it’s a past story and now we’re back on a good path but I think the summer is a good time to think about that.’”
Grosjean still faces an uncertain future, Haas’s team principal Guenther Steiner has repeatedly said that the team will not make a decision on its driver line up until after the summer break.
Speaking about his future, he said “There aren’t a lot of drivers with a lot of experience as well, maybe I can go somewhere and develop the team, but my main option is to stay here and keep doing our good business.”
Magnussen having fun after “horrific” start to career
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen says that he is having fun in F1 after a “pretty horrific” start to his career with McLaren and Renault. Magnussen joined the American team on a two-year deal, after making his debut with McLaren in 2014, he sat out a year before joining Renault.
Magnussen told Motorsport.com that his first two seasons racing in F1, split by a year on the sidelines, “were pretty horrific and very unstable with different teams and losing my seat. It’s really good fun, the most fun I’ve had in Formula 1, and the most competitive and kind of honoured feeling I’ve had.”
“I think it just shows the quality that the team is made of. They are able to make decisions and they are able to commit and take directions, it’s a real strength of the team.
“They don’t have any fights at the top or differences of opinions. With me, they agreed that I was the kind of driver they would like to commit to and they went ahead and did it.” His 2014 debut with McLaren came after he won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship.
But then the team decided to replace him with Fernando Alonso, he sat a year out. The following season he joined Renault but decided to leave because the French manufacturer wouldn’t offer him more than a year deal.
He added “Probably, they hadn’t gone for me for the right reasons. I didn’t have the support I needed there. I still think I did a good job, but they had already decided.”
“From the beginning that I wasn’t the right guy for them. But luckily Haas saw the potential and gave me a shot, they offered me a deal where I could see stability.”
Pirelli ready for a tyre war
Pirelli’s F1 Director Mario Isola says that the Italian tyre manufacturer would be ready to fight against another manufacturer, however, has warned that a tyre war would generate an extra cost.
Formula One has had a sole tyre supplier since 2007, and Pirelli took over as tyre supplier from Bridgestone in 2011. Speaking to ESPN, Isola says that if the sport did decide to have two manufacturers they were ready for the challenge.
Saying “If they decide to come back to this situation as we said in the past, we are ready to face also this new challenge. It is a new challenge because if you’re a sole supplier you have some targets.”
“You supply the same tyres to everybody so you can have a tyre with high degradation, with different targets. If we are in competition with our tyre supplier the target is just performance.” Isola says the current targets are safety and performance.
One of Liberty’s aims, since it took over the sport, is to reduce the costs, Isola believes having two manufacturers would go against this and a single supplier saves everyone money.
Saying “if you introduce, again, what they call the ”tyre war” or multiple suppliers you have to consider that in the past it was necessary to have additional test sessions or in the past the teams had a proper tyre test team and obviously this means additional costs.”
Schumacher Jr still eyes F1
The son of Michael Schumacher, Mick says that he is still eyeing a place in Formula One, after his first win of the European F3 season at Spa.
The nineteen-year-old is currently in his second season of F3, a series which in recent years has seen Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll compete in. In 2017, Mick was given the opportunity to drive his father’s 1994 title-winning Benetton at Spa during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.
Speaking to Mobil 1 The Grid on Channel 4, Schumacher said “The ’94 [Benetton] car, when I drove it, was on the F1 weekend. To be honest, here I am a bit more focused on what I am doing on track.”
“So I don’t really notice it too much but for sure my goal has always been F1 and it’s still been my goal now with one step after the other, we move forward.”
Mick is currently eighth in the championship ahead of this weekend’s race at Silverstone and remains hopeful for more wins in the second half of the season.