Toro Rosso confirm driver line up
Toro Rosso has confirmed that Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley will be the team’s driver line up next season. Both men were brought in following the departures of Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat from the team last month.
Gasly made his debut for the team in Malaysia, while newly crowned World Endurance champion Hartley made his debut for the team in Austin. Team principal Franz Tost said, “We’re really happy to have Pierre and Brendon confirmed so early by Red Bull as our drivers for 2018.”
“During this last part of the year, they’ve shown that they’re ready for Formula 1, getting to grips with the car quickly, showing good performances and always demonstrating to be prepared for the challenge.”
Tost added that he has been impressed by their steep learning curves and was sure that they will push hard and fight for results together with the team. The current line up of Gasly and Hartley was the fourth different line up this season.
Having started the season with Kvyat and Sainz, the Russian was replaced by Gasly in Malaysia and Japan. Kvyat returned at the US GP following Sainz’s early move to Renault.
While Hartley was drafted in as Gasly was due to compete in the Super Formula season finale – an event which was then cancelled due to bad weather. The New Zealander said, “It’s very satisfying to have converted an opportunity that came as a surprise into a 2018 F1 drive, I couldn’t be happier.”
“I’d like to thank Red Bull and Toro Rosso for believing in me and giving me this second chance – dreams can come true.”
Gasly added: “I’m really excited and super motivated to give it my all in Abu Dhabi and the whole of next year! I just can’t wait!”
I needed to respond to Renaults criticism
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost says he felt he needed to defend the team after engine supplier Renault suggested that the way the team operated its power units has contributed to the team’s recent engine failures.
In Brazil Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com that there was “never coincidences in this sport” and in response, Toro Rosso issued a subsequently issued a statement denying that it was at fault.
It suggested that Renault’s own pursuit of sixth place in the constructors’ championship, currently held by the Faenza team, had played a role in recent events.
That statement, in turn, infuriated Renault and brought a clarification from Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko. Tost told Motorsport.com “I had the feeling that I had to say something. You know, that if the team is being criticised.”
“We feel this is not 100 percent correct, then we have to give a statement. And this is what we did. Whether it’s done correctly or not is another question. We just clarified our point of view.”
Asked if the matter was now over, he said: “I think so, I didn’t hear anything anymore, so that’s it.” Renault outscored Toro Rosso by a point in Brazil. But, Toro Rosso holds a four-point lead over Renault.
Tost said the drop from sixth to eighth could cost Toro Rosso $6.5m in F1 prize money, making Abu Dhabi a critical race for all three teams. Adding “ It’s very stressful. We will try to prepare in the best possible way, with as many reliable parts as we have. Regarding our power unit supplier, we don’t have this under our control, this is their decision.”
Marko admits the problems are frustrating for both teams, saying “They haven’t cured the problem yet, and they’re running out of parts, and then the situation happens like it does. Unfortunately, Toro Rosso was affected more than any other team, so that’s why the emotion went up.”
Ferrari to remain a threat – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he is expecting Ferrari to remain a major threat in next years championship, as well as Red Bull joining the fight for the championship.
Despite the first half of the season setting us up for a fight between Ferrari and Mercedes, a series of reliability problems and driver error in September/October cost Ferrari points and ultimately both titles. Brazil where Ferrari reminded us of what the 2017 car was capable of.
Wolff says he expects that close battle to continue next season, telling Sky Sports “We enjoyed the fight with Ferrari a lot. There is a lot of respect and they are a fantastic team. So I expect it to be continued next year and probably with Red Bull and others in the frame.”
After Red Bull made gains with the development this season allowing them to take wins in Malaysia and Mexico on pace, this has made McLaren confident they can target podiums next season.
Ferrari has had their most successful season since 2010, while nineteen podiums match the total from their last Constructors’ Championship-winning year of 2008. However, Sebastian Vettel says only when Ferrari are dominating the sport again will the Scuderia’s revival be complete.
Saying after his win in Brazil “I think we can all feel that we’re getting stronger, so hopefully we can carry that strength into the next couple of years.”
“Not just next year, not just the winter but also the future because I think our objective is to bring Ferrari back properly, get there and dominate”
No changes to aid overtaking at Albert Part
Organisers of the Australian Grand Prix have decided not to make bold changes to the layout of the circuit to create another overtaking spot.
Autosport said it understood the Australian Grand Prix Corporation investigated making a significant change to the Lakeside Drive section, replacing the fast Turn 11/12 complex with a ‘stop’ corner to create another passing opportunity.
The idea would have created changes to the back straight to make it longer and faster, leading to a hard breaking zone and a tight left-hander. A new DRS zone would have been placed there too, this all was aimed to make overtaking easier.
However, for the time being, chances won’t be made with organisers confirming the changes yielded too few benefits to make it worthwhile, a view shared by FOM following discussions between the two parties.
As a result, the unique layout that has played host to Australia’s round of the world championship since 1996 will continue to be used for the foreseeable future. AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott told Autosport “Like everything we do at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, we give consideration from all angles.”
“We have an ethos of continuous improvement which included looking at any opportunities for track changes. In looking at these opportunities, we undertook review with relevant parties and nothing beneficial presented itself.” While the track layout isn’t changing, there are plans to resurface the entire circuit.
However, resurfacing works require significant and careful consideration from the AGPC to limit disruption to day-to-day traffic. Considerations over closing public roads is likely to have played a large part in the layout alteration investigation as well.
Stroll hampered by lack of engine power
Williams says that Lance Stroll was hampered during the Brazilian Grand Prix by a lack of engine power after he was forced to revert back to an older spec power unit.
Stroll’s struggles came despite his teammate Felipe Massa finishing best of the rest, behind the top three teams which have led to fresh criticism from Jacques Villeneuve. Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe insists that Stroll had little chance of doing much better, due to a deficit in power deficit as the result of having to go back to his third engine after a problem in final practice.
Lowe explained to Motorsport.com, Stroll “Had a gearbox failure in P3, which was due to a corruption of some of the electronic calibration. During that process, at high speed, it selected some low gears and revved the engine to over 18,000rpm – so the engine was finished.”
“That was engine number four [the latest specification], so we put in engine number three and that is probably the one he will use for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, engine number three is down on performance for a number of reasons compared to engine number four.”
It put Stroll on the back foot and him down on power, which means he was unable to use the magic engine modes. He also stalled at the start getting stuck behind Romain Grosjean.
Lowe said Williams did weigh up fitting a brand new fifth engine for Stroll on race morning but decided that the extra cost of doing so was not worth the benefit it would bring.