McLaren needed to speak up – Brown
McLaren’s executive director Zac Brown believes it was important that the team “spoke up” in public during the Canadian Grand Prix, about the on-going problems that McLaren are having with engine supplier Honda.
Brown said over the weekend that the team had back up plans if Honda continues to struggle in the second half of the season, but that was before the late engine failure cost the team there the first point of the season.
following that retirement, racing director Eric Boullier said that was “absolutely not good enough” post-race as part of McLaren’s strongest public criticism yet of its engine partner. Asked by Autosport, if that was to give Honda a message, Brown said: “I think it was important that we spoke up this weekend, it was really the first time that McLaren brought forward their views.”
“I don’t want to repeat ourselves, and I don’t think [Alonso’s failure] changes anything, it just reinforces our position. I think they know something needs to be done. They are frustrated, they are upset.”
“I think 400 million people saw what happened, so I don’t think we need to communicate already further than we already have,” Boullier called on Honda to work hard and to fix it.
Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa says that the updates appeared to work on the dyno, but that is not translating to the track, and it does not know why.
Brown says “It’s a bit of the same old story, which is something that needs to get fixed one way or another.”
Mercedes have remaining “question marks”
Mercedes have said that “question marks” remain about the performance of their 2017 car, despite the strong one-two finish the team had during the Canadian Grand Prix.
After a struggle with performance in Monaco, the team spent time before Montreal trying to unlock better performance. That appears to have worked after the team scored their first one-two of the season.
That performance allowed Mercedes to retake the lead in the constructors and Hamilton to cut the points defect to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the drivers. Motorsport boss Toto Wolff says that qualifying highlighted the fact that the team doesn’t have all the answers.
Wolff told Autosport “Although they had really similar set-ups, Lewis’s grip level was increasing through the qualifying sessions, and Valtteri’s were decreasing.”
“And for no obvious reasons to us. These are the little question marks that remain and we have to get on top of it.” By the end of the session, Bottas was almost three-quarters of a second off Hamilton, the biggest gap of the season so far.
Mercedes do have concerns about the tight and twisty nature of Baku not being suited to the nature of their car.
But Wolff says the team will study how it managed to get things right in Montreal, to hopefully allow it to take the fight to Ferrari again.
Kubica still has pace for F1
Alan Permane Renault’s director of trackside operations, says that Robert Kubica showed in his recent test that he still has the pace for Formula One.
Kubica’s career was cut short following a rally crash in February 2011. In his test, the Pole cover 115 laps of the Valencia circuit and following the test that he could now target a “proper comeback”.
Speaking to Poland’s Eleven Sports, Permane said Kubica had shown good speed in the test but that the mileage he achieved was the bigger surprise.
Permane said “I had no doubt on his pace, ever, at all. I did not know, and I don’t think he knew, whether he would be able to drive physically – and, more than that, be able to drive a lot.”
“He’s driven some things. He’s driven simulators, he’s driven a GP3 car earlier this year in preparation for this, but we didn’t really know what his limitations would be. And, honestly, it went very well.”
The Frenchman says that a comeback by Kubica would be viable from the data. Kubica’s injuries have kept him out of single seaters for the last few years, and Permane said “very, very small modification to the steering wheel for shifting” to accommodate him.
Kvyat and Sainz key to fifth – Tost
Toro Rosso’s team principal Franz Tost, says that the experience of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz is key to the team’s hopes of fifth in the constructor’s championship.
This season the Red Bull junior team took the unusual step of retaining both their drivers for a third season. The move appears to be paying off as the team is looking for their best finish in the constructor’s championship, and Tost says not having a rookie driver will help with that.
Tost told Motorsport.com’s GP Gazette “It’s absolutely the most experienced driver pairing we had in the history of Toro Rosso. We can see this because with newcomers you cannot fight for the fifth position in the championship.”
“Look at the competitors around us, apart from Williams who are a little bit struggling, they are all drivers with experience, because [Esteban] Ocon was in there last year as well. Therefore the package is strong.”
Tost says he has been satisfied with the performance of both drivers.
Adding “Carlos has been in Q3 in nearly all of the races. Daniil has been a little bit unlucky because of technical failures – for example in China he was in a good place, but he could not finish the race because of a hydraulic failure.”
Tost says that the team needs to provide the best technical package possible.
Verstappen’s bad luck “character building”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Max Verstappen’s recent run of bad luck and car failures will be “character building”
The Dutchman had an impressive start jumping from fifth to second at turn one, he looked on course for a podium on lap ten until his engine failed. Verstappen later said he was “fed up” with his situation after finishing just two of the last five races and seeing teammate Daniel Ricciardo score three podiums in a row.
Horner believes that his performance on track shows he is learning to come back from setbacks. He told ESPN “It is character building but he will come through it strong. His driving is getting better and better.”
“You can see the performances in the last two or three races, he has really been making a lot of progress, and it is a shame he did not achieve the result he deserved,” Horner said he was obviously disappointed because he was in a good position.
Horner is not surprised to see Verstappen cut such a frustrated figure and claim he is “not enjoying” his current situation. “He is going to be emotional when he got out of the car, but in the cold light of day he is qualifying closer.”
“the performance of the car is getting closer, he was running a competitive second ahead of a Mercedes and both Ferraris. So, things are moving in the right direction” added Horner.
Mid-soft compounds for Malaysia
Pirelli has announced the mid-softer end of the tyre compounds will be available for teams to choose from for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Italian supplier has ditched the hard and has decided to bring the supersoft, soft and medium tyres. It comes after Pirelli changed the selection compounds for the British Grand Prix, following concerns about its effectiveness with the 2017 F1 cars.
For Malaysia, Pirelli says one set of the soft or medium must be used at some stage during the 56-lap race. It has nominated one set of the supersoft tyre to be used in the final part of qualifying.
Teams are free to choose the remaining ten sets, making up thirteen in total for the race weekend. The hard tyre has proved in races earlier in the season to be too hard for competitive use.
Ocon “a superstar of future” – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has tipped junior and Force India’s Esteban Ocon to be “a superstar of the future”, following his strong start to his first full season.
In Canada, the Frenchman turned ninth into sixth place, but Ocon believes he could have been higher if team-mate Sergio Perez had let him past at a critical point in the race to attack third-placed Daniel Ricciardo.
In 2015 Mercedes boss Wolff signed Ocon to the team’s junior programme after the Frenchman beat Max Verstappen to the European Formula 3 championship. After the race, Wolff said “Force India could have done many more points. He did a great race.”
“Really fantastic for his first season. He’s developing just in the right way, he’s going to be a superstar of the future.” Force India chose Ocon over Pascal Wehrlien late last year.
His arrival has seen him be immediately competitive at the team and often very close to Perez’s times, a gap which seems to be closing up every weekend.
That competitiveness, says chief operating officer at Force India, Otmar Szafnauer will allow the team to push it forward in the quest for fourth in the championship.
“It’s one of the reasons we chose him. It’s hard to predict the future but we’re happy he’s done what we thought he could do. We’ve got two drivers that can work together and now they’re close together which means they’ll be pushing each other.” he said.