GPDA achieves full membership
For the first time in recent years, all twenty drivers have unanimously signed up to the union which represents drivers because of concerns about the future of the sport.
The Chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers Association Alex Wurz, says the union has achieved full membership by all the drivers maybe for the first history of the organisation. The Austrian says that all the drives have joined the union because “F1 is entering a period of evolution, change and perhaps even a degree of turmoil.
“They recognise they must be united and represented to face that challenge.”
World champions Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen were among those who had not officially joined the GPDA in recent years.
Wurz, a former F1 driver for the Benetton, McLaren and Williams, said the drivers wanted to “prevent any politics or power fights from ultimately compromising on-track performance. The drivers believe unity is fundamental for the sport’s success”.
The news comes as teams, Liberty Media and The FIA try to hammer out a new commercial deal and regulations that are to take effect in 2021. However, the end of the season was marked by teams concerns about the direction the US group wants to take going forward.
While Wurz says the drivers have been pleased by the new regulations brought in this years which made the cars faster, harder to drive and more dramatic, and the tyres more durable so the drivers can race harder for longer. He outlined new concerns.
These include the increasing use of asphalt run-off areas and subsequent abuse of track limits, the rise of pay TV and fewer viewers/followers as a result, over-regulation and the penalty system, and the difficulty of overtaking and lack of track action, the lack of noise from engines.
He says that drivers are pleased that Liberty has set up a technical department to research rules, but added they wanted a less sensitive aero regulations to allow closer racing.
Ferrari needs Mercedes mindset
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene says that he wants his team to take on the mindset of Mercedes victories being a habitual process rather than a one-off event. The Italian team was a lot stronger this season but still lost the championship to the silver arrows.
Ferrari were closer thanks to new aerodynamic regulations, which many believed would have shaken up the competitive order. Asked by ESPN, if there was anything that Mercedes which he wanted Ferrari to emulate, Arrivabene said: “I think, how you tend to respect the team that have won four constructors’ championships and four drivers’ championships.”
“For that I have a lot of respect but it could be even better if we’re able next year to fight with them and finally to win.”
“I think one of the strengths of Mercedes, apart from the brand they’re representing, how the team is organised, it’s also their habit to win. Sometimes you are going to have a pole position and it’s becomes an event.”
He says that must be a natural event because of the work you are doing which needs respect. Despite missing out on the title, it was Ferrari’s most successful season since 2010, however Arrivabene will be aware to challenge for titles they need to progress in Qualifying.
Ferrari last won a constructors title in 2008, but their last driver’s title was with Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
Hamilton has no desire to repair Rosberg friendship
Lewis Hamilton says he has no desire to repair his friendship with his former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. The two were friends for a number of years, before they became teammates and went wheel to wheel for three titles between 2014 and 2016.
Mercedes F1 chairman Niki Lauda has claimed that the relationship between the two had broken down completely, getting to the point where “They didn’t even say hello in the morning.”
Last month, Rosberg said he was open to a future reconciliation, but, they were, “not at that point yet.”
“We were very good friends in the past, but it can happen again in the future. We’re not rivals anymore, I’m completely out of it, so I don’t see why we could not get along well after some time.”
But speaking to the German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, Hamilton said “I last talked to Nico in Japan, but I do not invest any energy in changing our relationship.”
McLaren had concerns about remaining with Honda
McLaren boss Eric Boullier has admitted that he was concerned that if they struggled with Honda power in 2018, that staff would leave the team.
Last winter, the Japanese manufacturer redesigned their power unit but as early as winter testing it became clear that it was unable to deliver what the team expected. The Frenchman told F1.com “”I went to the management, showed them the data and told them that we cannot accept another year like this.”
“We had a tough first year with Honda, we had a tough second year, and had expected progress good enough to get us back to where we belong – but Barcelona showed that we would go backwards and that was absolutely not an option.”
Boullier said he warned Honda about the consequences of another year of no results, with his concern being the team would have lost very good and new people.
In September McLaren and Honda agreed to end the partnership. Now, McLaren has the confidence that the team can move forward, as they move to Renault power next season.
The team are also now confident that the outfit can move up the grid after the strong performance of the chassis in 2017. “When you look at what we have achieved in terms of car performance – chassis performance – we know that we are back on the podium, at the top,” he said.
Force India has greater understanding
Force India’s technical director Andrew Green says that the team goes into 2018 with a greater understand of the car than ever before because of the work they have done this season.
In an interview with Motorsport.tv, Green says the same “injection of funds” that allowed it to accelerate development in 2017 has allowed it to build this knowledge.
He said “It made a real difference, not just for 2017 but we [also] did a huge amount of work for next year as well, trying to understand directions to go in.”
“It allowed us to do that, which we’ve never been able to do before. We’ve always started the following season with roughly the same amount of knowledge that we finished the year before.”
Green says because of that they are not going into 2018 as they went into 2017. This year the team brought lots of upgrades to the cars so they could increase understanding during the winter.