Leading teams debate reforming FOTA
Leading teams are in early talks to re-establish a FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) style body, so they are able to protect their financial interests and regulatory advantages following the takeover by Liberty Media.
FOTA was formed by all the teams in 2008 but collapsed after teams withdrew in 2013. Autosport says they understand the four biggest teams would work as one to secure the strongest financial position and benefits for teams currently protected by the ‘Constructors’ Championship Bonus’.
The CCB teams are Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, which mean they are guaranteed preferential payments of prize money. Yesterday the European Parliament voted to launch an investigation into the ways the sports distributes prize money.
Under the current arrangements, the CCB teams earn 65% of the prize pot, regardless of their championship position, while 35% is left for the other teams and the 30% is profit for FOM.
When asked by Autosport, no one would confirm on the record that moves are being made to create a new teams’ association, none denied that conversations between the teams were already taking place.
However an anonymous source told them “ We are prepared to engage in team meetings and discussions, but the progress of those talks may necessarily be somewhat fraught, and [certain CCB teams] may attempt to protect privileged positions.”
They added they needed to work together to help the sport.
Haas preparations better
Haas’s Team Principal Gunther Steiner says the team’s preparations heading into its second season, are going better than in their debut season. The American team made an impressive start to their first season, with solid mid top ten finishes in the opening races.
However, the team failed to match that form in the following races because of reliability issues which hindered the rest of the teams season. Steiner says that preparations for this season are going to plan, and the car should be ready for testing at the end of the month.
He told Motorsport.com “So far so good, all according to plan. The car will be set in motion next week, then we will start in Barcelona.”
“So far it has gone better than last year. The experience of a working season was very useful. We have also learned how to work better with our partners Ferrari and Dallara.” He added. Steiner admitted the team was having the normal issues with the regulation change.
Asked what Gene Haas’s Steiner said: “And that’s the right thing. The day when a Formula 1 team is happy with the position it occupies it is bound to lose ground.”
Alonso ready and eager
McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier, says that Fernando Alonso is “ready and eager” for the increased challenges posed by the 2017 cars. The Spaniard in recent years has been a critic of the regulations, saying cars are less demanding to drive since the start of his career in the early 2000s.
This season the cars are expected to be harder to drive, with increased downforce and higher speeds, plus harder wearing tyres which won’t lose performance means the Spaniard is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Boullier told Sky Sports News “He’s been working very, very hard this winter and he’s really ready and eager. He drove this kind of car, or even faster car, in the past so he knows what to expect.”
“He can’t wait to drive the car. He drove it in the simulator but it’s not the same. I’m sure he can’t wait to drive it on the track and see if it’s delivering what we expect.” He added.
Asked if he thought the Spaniard needed to train harder than team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne he said the Belgian has never driven a car like this. “But he also worked very hard over the winter, he’s ready. They’re both ready.” He added.
Renault reduces Viry operations
Renault could reduce the size of the team working at their engine base at Viry and slow down its recruitment drive this year. Following the takeover of Lotus late in 2015, the French manufacturer set a target of rebuilding the team.
Last season, was tough on their return as a works team, with the team focusing on rebuilding the team and recurring staff from other teams. Speaking in Viry, managing director Cyril Abiteboul told Autosport that it would now take some time to bed its new structure down.
“2017 will be more of a consolidation year. In Viry, the focus is much more on quality rather than quantity. We may actually reduce slightly the size of our operations.”
“On the chassis side, we have recruited something like 100 people, so that is a growth of 20% of headcount, which is a lot. We are going to slow down a little bit the recruitment, make sure everyone is finding their feet.” He said.
Speaking about his focus this year, he said it was about getting the right heads of department, which he admits takes time because of contractual agreements. But he added, “But we have some in the pipeline that will join us over the course of the season.”
Machin joins Renault
Meanwhile, Renault has announced that Pete Machin will become the team’s Head of Aerodynamics.
Machin has been with Red Bull since it brought Jaguar in 2004 and was previously Senior CFD Engineer at Arrows between October 1997 to April 2002. He started his career at Bombardier Aerospace as an aerodynamicist.
The move means that the team’s current head Jon Tomlinson will be his deputy. Machin said, “It is clear that Renault Sport is serious about mounting a fresh challenge within F1 and I am happy to join the team.”
“I’m very much looking forward to working with him in my new role with that same achievement as the target.” He added that “The technical regulation changes for 2017 are the first significant change in four years and will allow F1 cars to achieve greater downforce than at any other time in the history of the sport.”
Managing director Cyril Abiteboul added “We are very pleased to welcome Pete Machin to Enstone. Aerodynamics are obviously a hugely important element of the performance equation so to enlist Pete is a particular highlight of our recent recruitment programme.”
Teams can’t complain about tyres
Pirelli says there is no point in teams complaining about the more hard wearing tyres as they have done what they were asked to do. The tyre concept for this season has changed to allow the drivers to push, which is a major change in concept after they were asked to create harder wearing tyres.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director has previously said F1 could end up with processional racing because the rules shake-up, which includes significant tweaks to aerodynamics, will spread the field out. Hembery told Motorsport.com “You can’t please everyone and you can only go in one of two directions,” Hembery said. “We did something from the outset which was desired, then there was a decision to go in another direction.
“We’re just following what the sport asks us. All we ask is that they tell us what they want. There’s no point in complaining that we deliver what we have been asked to deliver.” He also added that the tyre manufacturer wouldn’t be to blame if the tyres don’t deliver.
Pirelli have has concerns that their mule car has failed to deliver enough downforce as they were expecting. Hembery explained that the question is are they delivering enough in terms of downforce and performance.
Hembery believes there will be fewer pit stops, because of the impact of the aero rules.
Nico Rosberg says now he is no longer Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate in Formula One that he is open to rebuilding the friendship. The two have been friends since the early 2000’s, but the relationship has become strained in recent years.
Rosberg and Hamilton’s early careers were connected as the two travelled across Europe during their karting days. During them days, competitiveness was natural, with wrecked hotel rooms, crazy parties and the on-track battles. The pair live practically together in Monaco.
He told ESPN “I think it’s going to take a little bit more time than that to find our way. In general, yes, the competition is gone completely and suddenly, so we have already had some nice relaxed moments.
“Who knows, I’m open to having a better relationship with him again in the future — we were best friends 15 years ago after all.”
Nico Rosberg has been awarded breakthrough of the year prize, at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco. The current World champion tweeted “I received so much. Now it’s time to work on giving something back.”