Concorde agreement key to Renault’s future
Renault F1 teams principal Cyril Abiteboul says that 2021 regulation changes and the Concorde Agreement will be key to deciding the manufacturers future in the sport.
The French manufacturer has had a turbulent few months following the arrest by Japanese police of its now-former chairman Carlos Ghosn on corruption and fraud charges. Also, Renault’s interim management announced last year that it was reviewing all its activities, including F1.
That review has been impacted by the confirmation of the 2021 F1 regulations last October, and the subsequent delivery to teams of a draft Concorde Agreement. However, Abiteboul remains confident that the revised commercial deal and £150m cost cap should allow Renault to close the gap and keep them in the sport.
He told Autosport, “I think we are the main beneficiary of the 2021 deal and set of regulations. I can’t say that they’ve been engineered for us, but for sure it goes in our direction.”
“From my perspective, everything that we’ve built we’ve done it with 2021 in mind, and everyone is aware of that, including at Renault corporate. The figures speak for themselves. Having said that, until a decision is made the decision is not made.”
Abiteboul says there is no rush to make a decision, and like every team will study the agreement. The final agreement needs time to be discussed and understood which will take the teams time.
He added, “There is lots of discussion going on about the documentation itself. We’ve seen hundreds of pages of contract, and it takes a while. There’s also the stream having to keep on moving and improving and progressing in terms of our own performance in parallel.”
Abiteboul says a decision would be good before the end of June.
Renault to launch in Paris
Renault has announced they will launch their 2020 car the RS20 in the French capital Paris, on Wednesday 12th February. After taking a step backwards last year the team is hoping to return to the top of the midfield again in 2020 after taking a step back last year when they were comfortably beaten by McLaren – who they supply with engines.
They are the fourth team to confirm there launch date after Ferrari, McLaren and Alpha Tauri.
2020 could be a classic – Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes that Formula One is set for a “classic season” between his outfit, Mercedes and Ferrari “unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of a hat”.
Mercedes go into this season having dominated the hybrid era and are looking to wrap up seventh consecutive drivers and constructors. The teams’ consistency has allowed them to beat their main rivals who haven’t found the performance over the course of the season.
Ferrari looked set to beat Mercedes following testing, but Mercedes won the opening eight races. This was despite regulation changes designed to increase overtaking, but towards the end of 2019 the top teams began to converge over the course of last year, Horner is convinced F1 should finally enjoy a proper multi-team title scrap once more.
Horner told Motorsport.com, “We’ve got continuity across all aspects of next year with drivers, with regulations, with engine supply, engine regulation. So unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of a hat, then I think we’re set for a really exciting year next year between, Mercedes, Ferrari, ourselves.”
Red Bull started last season slowly before gaining ground in the early part of the season, which has become a trend in the hybrid era. The team has stressed that its important for them this year to be in the mix from the get-go. Horner sees no reason for why that shouldn’t be the case in 2020, especially given the progress made by engine partner Honda last year.
He added, “The front wing regulation change and the tyre change over the winter seemed to affect us perhaps more than our opponents. And of course also, at that time we were still catching up on from the power perspective.”
Horner says from Austrian onwards the team caught up on power to Mercedes, allowing the second half of the season to be very competitive. Also that 2017 they had a very, very competitive car. Adding “That was stability of regulations, and I think we have that again from 2019 into ‘20.”
Ferrari “should” have a woman driver
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says the teams Driver Academy is looking for a female, insisting that women “should be part” of the team’s driver development programme.
A female driver has yet to appear in the Ferrari Driver Academy since its founding in 2009, with the non-Esports section of the Academy line-up currently consisting of seven male racers, including Mick Schumacher and Giuliano Alesi, sons of Ferrari legends Michael Schumacher and Jean Alesi. But that lack of diversity was something Binotto wanted to address.
Speaking to F1.com, Binotto said, “We need to look at the future generation of talent for Ferrari. The Academy [is also looking] for women in the future. Women should be part of the Ferrari Academy. That’s something on which we are working right now to make sure that it may happen very soon.”
He says by appointing a woman it shows that Ferrari is investing so they can be stronger in the medium and long term. While Alfa Romeo’s Tatiana Calderon took part in tests in recent years, Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes CEO Toto, and team principal of Venturi remains the last women to drive during a race weekend.
Esports is another area that Binotto is eager to push, meanwhile, with the team having won the New Balance Esports Pro Series in their inaugural year, with driver David Tonizza taking the drivers and Red Bull took the constructors championship, while Ferrari finished second.
He said “We recognise that it’s a very important factor for young generations. We have been lucky maybe to win the championship on the very first season, but I think we’ve got the right driver… David Tonizza won the title, which we are pleased about.”
Williams announce Nissany as test driver
Williams has announced that Formula Two Driver Roy Nissany will be the team’s test and reserve driver this season. The Israeli driver impressed in the Abu Dhabi test and replaces Nicholas Latifi who has been promoted to a race driver following Robert Kubica’s departure.
The 25-year-old will take part in three Practice One sessions this year and drive one rookie test day, while he will also be immersed in the team over three Grand Prix weekends as he prepares to combine the work with his second F2 season. He finished twenty-second in F2 in his rookie season.
Deputy team principal, Claire Williams said, “It is a pleasure to welcome Roy Nissany to ROKiT Williams Racing in the role of our official test driver. Roy demonstrated his capabilities driving in the post-season Abu Dhabi test last year.”
“We were extremely impressed with what he could do in a short space of time. He is a hard-working individual who we are excited to be working with this year”
The announcement was made in a Tel Aviv press conference, have proudly brought many star drivers into F1, including Jenson Button, Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg.
The Israeli added, “This is a landmark for motorsport in Israel. When I tested for the team in Abu Dhabi in December, I instantly felt comfortable in the car and part of the team.”
“The experience that I will gain this year, immersing myself with Williams will prove invaluable and I’m looking forward to getting started, both on and off the track.”
Nissany, the son of former one-time Minardi test driver Chanoch Nissany, will also work on the simulator as Williams look to begin to rebuild ahead of next years regulation changes.
Hamilton nominated for Laureus Awards
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have once again been nominated the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards. Premier League leaders Liverpool have secured a unique double-nomination on the 20th anniversary of the awards.
Jurgen Klopp’s side is included in the Team of the Year category for their UEFA Champions League victory over Tottenham in June.
Hamilton won his sixth drivers title in 2019, to make him second in the all-time list, one behind Michael Schumacher. His eleven wins took him to eighty-three career victories, just seven behind Schumacher.
Mercedes won a record sixth consecutive F1 Drivers and Constructors World Championships in 2019.
Two-time Formula One world champion and Laureus Academy Member Mika Häkkinen said, “Lewis continues to dominate Formula One with the excellent Mercedes car he is driving. They both deserve their nominations. Whatever changes the sport makes, Lewis and Mercedes always seem to adapt.”
The winners will be announced in Berlin on 17th February.