Red Bull to be forced to split with Renault
BBC News say they understand that Red Bull are going to be forced to split with the team’s engine supplier at the end of 2018. Sources have told the British broadcaster that the divorce is almost certain.
The move means that Red Bull would be forced into making the switch to Honda power for 2019, with junior team Toro Rosso from 2018. The news means that McLaren will switch to Renault power for next season, the official announced on Friday as part of a busy series of news developments at the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.
The news about Toro Rosso and McLaren was expected, however, the news about Red Bull’s split with Renault is a surprise. Like the relationship between McLaren and Honda, Red Bull’s relationship with Renault has been strained in recent years as both have struggled with reliability and performance.
Red Bull was keen to get Honda engines into the Toro Rosso cars as part of a long-term plan to switch the senior team to the Japanese company if and when they improved their engine.
However, that plan appears now in tatters as Renault wants to now focus on the works team and McLaren. That means that Honda would be forced into supplying Red Bull, as the rules that dictate no team can be left without an engine supplier.
But that would be a difficult argument to make given that Toro Rosso will already be using Honda engines and Honda is known to be willing and able to supply a second team.
The move raises questions about the long-term future of Red Bull in F1, which was already in doubt post-2020.
Honda not planning component changes
Honda is not planning any engine component changes that will incur penalties for Stoffel Vandoorne at this weekends Singapore Grand Prix. Vandoorne had a grid penalty in Italy after Honda found a problem with the MGU-K shaft.
Honda didn’t have time at Monza to change the component so it elected to change the whole power unit. However, despite the change of power unit, the issue returned again during the race leading to his retirement from the race.
McLaren was uncertain if Vandoorne would take further penalties in Singapore, a grand prix it feels offers its best remaining chance of points this season.
Honda has confirmed the MGU-K shaft has been changed but there have been no component tweaks that would trigger a penalty. The Belgian driver is on his seventh internal combustion engine and MGU-K, tenth turbocharger and MGU-H and sixth energy store and control electronics.
Should Honda take fresh elements of any of those components for Vandoorne this weekend, he will be given penalties.
News in Brief
Cutting Corner – The FIA is to take a no nonsense approach to corner cutting at the sequence of corners at the Singapore Grand Prix. Cutting turn two gives drivers an advantage so the FIA has placed cone which drivers must drive around. The FIA has also confirmed that several areas of the Marina Bay track have been resurfaced.
Free to air French TV – Formula One will return to free to air TV in France next season after five seasons on pay TV Canal +. The TF1 deal, which begins at the start of 2018, will mean highlights of each race are shown on free-to-air, as well as four full live Grand Prix’s – which will include the French and Monaco Grand Prix’s.
Hamilton hopes Alonso returns to front – Lewis Hamilton says he hopes that his former team-mate Fernando Alonso and former team McLaren are going to rejoin F1’s front-runners in 2018 ahead of the expected announcement that his former team are dropping Honda for Renault power.
Drivers talk about physical demands
Romain Grosjean says that Formula One drivers could suffer “heat shock” after the Singapore Grand Prix because of the challenge of this year’s cars.
Singapore is one of the most challenging races on the calendar as the race often runs for two hours, with temperatures reaching between 30 and 34 degrees over the last three years and humidity hitting around 80%.
Those conditions, combined with F1 2017 cars that are faster through corners, have led to drivers enhancing their training regimes and acclimatisation programmes. Asked about the demands in Singapore, Grosjean told Autosport “Fitness has evolved but there is a high probability that we could get a heat shock and be in a pretty bad situation.”
“Normally your body manages to keep going through the race but when you get the chequered flag, everything switches off. The key is to drink throughout the race, even though it isn’t easy.”
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr adjusted the conditions in which he trains back in June to prepare for Singapore. “I was in saunas at 50 degrees and training in there. There’s been some extra preparation for these kind of races, from June more or less.”
Force India’s Esteban Ocon added: “I did a lot of training, cardio, more than usual [as] I think it’s quite important. It is just a matter of getting used to the heat, getting used to the sweat a bit and arrive here well-hydrated and have the right food.”
Fernando Alonso feels the cars have not been as physically demanding to drive as anticipated and therefore he does not expect drivers to struggle more than normal in Singapore.
Alonso still to decide on his future
Fernando Alonso says that he is still to make a decision about where he will be driving next season.
The saga about the future of his McLaren teams future with engine supplier Honda is expected to end in a divorce on Friday, with McLaren expected to switch to Renault. That switch is expected to be enough to convince the Spaniard to stay with McLaren.
Despite McLaren being the only drive in a top team left, Alonso is still refusing to give anything away ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix. Asked by reporters in Singapore, if there was still a chance of IndyCar next year, he said “There are options everywhere, and they are all very good. You just need to be patient and wait a couple of weeks.”
In recent weeks there have been rumours that he could switch to Williams, however that wouldn’t give him the race winning a car that he wants. Alonso has suggested the delay is out of the loyalty he feels towards McLaren and the shared struggles they have experienced since he joined from Ferrari in 2015.
“Whatever I do next year will be because I want to win. I will not be in any series to be fighting for top 10, top 15, nothing like that. There are many options I’m studying and looking at.”
“Formula One is my first and only priority. I will wait to make a decision on that before making decisions on other series. At the same time, I want to give time to my team.”
“After the last three years with some struggles that we went through together, to have time for them to make decisions, to see the future for next year’s car.”
Alonso says McLaren needs to make their decision on engines before he makes his decision on his future.
Palmer defiant he will finish season with Renault
Jolyon Palmer remains defiant that he will finish this season with Renault, but says he is excited about a “different” future in Formula One.
As part of this engine swap saga between McLaren and Toro Rosso, the Englishman looks set to be replaced by Carlos Sainz. There have been rumours that Sainz could move before the Malaysian Grand Prix, while Palmer accepts his future lies elsewhere, he denies the suggestion that could drive for Renault as early as the next race in Malaysia.
He told Sky Sports “”I have a contract for the rest of the year so my response is to show what I can do in the next seven races.”I think there have been suggestions for the last 35 races I might not be at the next one or in the next few.
“This is nothing new for me. It’s water off a duck’s back now. Most races it’s been this year it’s been the case, nothing’s changed. I’ll be in Malaysia. I’ll be racing until Abu Dhabi.” Palmer’s future with Renault has been subject to speculation all season, thanks to his disappointing form.
“For sure we’ve had our fair share of bad luck this year and on occasion, Nico [Hulkenberg] has had the better parts. Generally, I think the reliability has been a problem this year.”
Palmer has been linked to Williams for 2018, but added “I’m focused on doing the best I can in the car.”
Force India takes radical moves
Force India has taken a radical approach to increase downforce on the car for the Singapore Grand Prix, with more than 30 mini wings placed on the top of its shark fin cover.
Downforce is at a premium in Singapore, so the team has added winglets to increase the load at the rear of the car, as well as better direct airflow to the T-wing and rear wing.
The car’s T-wing was also a more aggressive version than had been spotted before, with the three separate elements now featuring double planes – with strengthening mounts in between the two elements.
The Force India developments are likely to be one of the several new concepts that teams will try out as they bid for a maximum-downforce approach to the Singapore GP weekend.
That’s all from F1 Today this week and we will be bringing you full coverage of the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend, with commentary of every session @F1VaultLive on Twitter. F1 Today returns next week. Preview here