Proposed budget cap could be a distraction
Renault believes that the distraction when the big teams need to start making redundancies when the proposed budget cap kicks in could be of benefit to the smaller teams trying to close the gap to the larger teams.
Currently Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull hold a huge advantage over the rest of the field because of their resources, but the F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul thinks that the cost restrictions could change because of the proposed regulations for 2021.
He has accepted for a while that the French manufacturers budget is not big enough to close the gap in the short term, but believes that the difficulties that will come as some teams need to cut back could leave them with a “major” a headache.
He told Motorsport.com, “We know we have a huge deficit in resources against the teams that ultimately we want to fight against. But we also know that things like the budget cap at some point will kick in.”
“It makes no sense to stack up resources knowing that we will have to reduce and go down. In a certain respect, it will be most unprofessional to do that, to hire people that we may have to lose in the future.” Abiteboul says that the team are at a tipping point with its own resources.
He says the advantage that Renault has is not having to think about the future in terms of budget caps and resources and has a plan to manage the team with its current level of spending.
Renault invested heavily in its Enstone operation since returning as a works team in 2016, Abiteboul is bullish that the fruits of its efforts will make a big difference as it heads into next season.
Asked if he was excited or nervous about 2019, Abiteboul said: “I think it would be concern or nerves if we were not seeing the gains that we are seeing. But we need to be careful.”
“We don’t know the gains of the others, but my confidence and the confidence and the positive mindset of the team is coming also from the energy that we are feeling everywhere.”
No point in staying if no long term change – Steiner
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner believes that there would be no point in him carrying on in Formula One in the long term if there was never a chance of his team being able to challenge the top three teams.
The grid has been divided into two groups in terms of performance, with the top three teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, enjoying a huge gap over the rest of the field. The so-called Class B teams haven’t taken any race wins since 2013.
Steiner accepts that the situation will continue in the short term, but he thinks that he would have to question his involvement longer term if things do not change. Steiner told Motorsport.com, “I think for two years, yes, it’s sustainable. But long term: no, it gets old. If it doesn’t change at some point there’s no point to just be in it.”
“The business as a business doesn’t work if you cannot take and feel the enjoyment of competing for podiums and wins. There’s no point to be here after a certain time, you know.”
“Why would I waste my life working madly, day and night, flying to, I don’t know, 21 countries all around the globe, to know I can just do the same as I did last year? There is no point. No point.” Steiner hopes that the proposed regulation changes have the potential to shake things up.
McLaren “anticipating a good car”
McLaren says they are “anticipating a good car” for 2019 as the team looks to improve quickly under its management structure. The second most successful team in the history of the sport, but has failed to win since the 2012 season finale or stood on the podium since the 2014 season opener.
Last season following the teams switch to Renault, they expected to be challenging for podiums. The team believed that they had one of the strongest chassis in the sport and that the Honda engine was holding them back.
But, the switch exposed fundamental weaknesses in the teams’ design, both on aerodynamically and chassis. McLaren believes that it is now on top of those issues.
Speaking at Autosport International Show, McLaren CEO Zak Brown said 2019 would be “a very big year for us”. Saying “We’re anticipating a good car. The off-season development has gone according to plan but you ultimately don’t know what the competition’s been up to and the competition’s tough and getting tougher.”
“We need good feedback from [new drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris]. This will be a much different car to 2018.”
The team has lost two times champion, Fernando Alonso, it will be hoping that its new drivers Sainz and Norris can lead McLaren back to the front. Brown says that the team has been “working extremely hard,” to build a better car than last year.
Verstappen serves his public service
Max Verstappen has served the first day of public service which he was awarded at the Brazilian Grand Prix, where he pushed Esteban Ocon in a heated row.
The Red Bull driver lost the lead in a collision with backmarker Ocon, with Lewis Hamilton then winning. Verstappen shoved Ocon three times when the pair met in the pits and was found guilty of misconduct but the stewards.
In a statement, the FIA said “Max Verstappen will attend the Marrakesh E-Prix as a result of the stewards’ decision at the 2018 Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix.”
“Verstappen will spend the day as an observer to the stewards, closely following their work at a top-level international motorsport event as part of the educational and informative approach taken by the FIA in this matter.”
Before the punishment was announced, Verstappen said he did not want to do anything that would make him “look like an idiot” because he felt “already very harshly treated”
Verstappen clearly ahead off Ricciardo
Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko believes that Max Verstappen’s progress last year has moved him clearly ahead of his former teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
During the three years, they were teammates both Verstappen and Ricciardo were evenly matched, although the Dutchman enjoyed a much more impressive campaign overall. Matching Ricciardo on race wins but scored more podiums than his teammate, Marko believes Verstappen established himself as a “clearly” better driver.
Marko told Motorsport.com, “There is specific data. In qualifying the gap to Ricciardo is greater. In the race, he’s also a bit faster. The strange thing is Max sometimes slides more, but still manages to keep the tyres alive. That has developed. When he came to us, it wasn’t like that yet.
“In the second year  Ricciardo dropped back a bit, but he recognised that and then he worked intensively with his physio and other things on himself, so he came close to Verstappen again.” He added that the team would “mourn” the loss of Ricciardo because of the way he pushed Ricciardo.
Marko believes that 2018 proved that Verstappen had developed into a stronger driver with a fearsome reputation.
Verstappen ended his fourth season in the sport in fourth in the driver’s championship, that clash with Esteban Ocon when leading in Brazil would have been third ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
The season could be seen as one of his strongest recovery drives in his short career, bouncing back from clashes early in the season with Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Ricciardo and a costly practice crash in Monaco.
Marko added, “The basic problems were a certain lack of control and impatience. The point is Verstappen is fast enough. He doesn’t have to constantly prove that he’s the fastest. He doesn’t need that. He already has an image in the duel that it’s better not to mess with him.
Perez ruled out McLaren return
Sergio Perez believes that Racing Point’s promising future was one of the decisive factors in him ruling out a return to McLaren. The Mexican was on the teams shortlist for a 2019 seat.
Perez drove for the team in 2013 but was replaced by Fernando Alonso following season, as he struggled to impress the team. McLaren CEO Zak Brown said last year, “We think Sergio is an excellent driver and deserves to be on that list.”
The team’s new owners are aiming to make the team “one of the greatest” in Formula 1. Despite the interest from McLaren, Perez decided to extend his contract with the Silverstone-based squad, saying a return to the Woking team seemed less appealing.
Perez said “McLaren is a great team, it is lacking a bit of time, but what convinced me more is the future here. I’ve been so many years in this team, I feel so comfortable and I see a bright future.”
“And I got involved so much with the team, with the administration process, new ownership and so on, so I felt that there is more that I have to do for this team and I was very happy to commit for another year.”