Can’t afford to lose time in testing
Romain Grosjean believes that the reduction to six days of testing will mean “big change” for the teams because the pressure will be ramped up to ensure that the teams will not lose track time.
As part of a push to reduce costs and minimise the strain on staff because of an expanded calendar, F1 teams will get two days less official pre-season testing at Barcelona this year. Haas is especially eager to gain as much information as possible, follow the problems they had last season.
Grosjean told Motorsport.com, “It’s a big change, it’s a big difference. “All it takes is for the weather not to be yours and it’s a lost day right away. Last year, we had a lot of electrical problems when it was just a fuse somewhere that was bothering us.”:
“We have to have the car working. We have to drive it and push it on a little bit, in all possible circumstances, to be ready so we know what to do at the races.”
Renault’s executive director Marcin Budkowski says with so few days of testing now, says that the teams needed to minimise the chances of unexpected surprises. He added “You know if you have a monumental issue in Barcelona you are two weeks away from sending your car to Melbourne so if you have have six days or eight days, it’s tight.”
Budkowski says it puts more pressure on, as the teams still want to do the same amount of running to gain all the data on the aero, all the race data, all the testing on the tyres.
Williams dramatic livery change
Williams has unveiled a dramatic change in livery when they unveiled their car online on Monday, vowing to “fight” and improve their F1 fortunes with the new FW43 car.
The nine-times constructor’s champions had the worst season in there forty-two-year history last year when they finished last with a single point after struggling on their own at the back of the field.
The FW43 is described an “evolution” of last year’s car with the team having “carefully chosen parts of the car to develop, those that would give us the most performance for the resources we have”, rather than opting for a wholesale change of concept.
The car’s livery has changed following a sponsorship deal with telecommunications company ROKiT. The car features a whiter body, lined with red and blue sides and black front half of the car. George Russell is being joined by Canadian rookie Nicholas Latifi, who steps up from reserve driver duties at the team and a runner-up finish in F2.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams told Sky Sports, “This year marks a fresh start for the team. We have spent time addressing our areas of weakness and have ensured that we have the right people, structures, procedures and resource in place to deliver competitive race cars.”
“We are all committed to re-building Williams and returning the team to competitiveness. As such, our 2020 campaign is about making progress.”
Williams has fallen a long way in the turbo hybrid era, from taking poles and finishing fourth in 2014 to running tenth only scoring eight points in the last in recent seasons.
Their struggles in 2019 began during a tumultuous pre-season when they missed the start of winter testing owing to car production delays, with the FW42 then rarely going on to qualify away from the back of the field during the year.
Launch week in review
Last week many of the teams launched there 2020 cars in various ways ahead of testing which begins on Wednesday.
While there isn’t a dramatic change to Ferrari’s livery, the team insist the new car is “completely different” as they bid to solve the issues with downforce which plagued their last title challenge.
The SF1000 – launched in extravagant style in a lavish theatre event – has been described as “very extreme” with its packaging to create a sleeker, tighter look.
Both Mercedes and Red Bull launched their cars at filming days at Silverstone. Red Bull will be looking to fight with Ferrari and Mercedes, but the picture will become clear during testing later this week.
McLaren is looking to maintain the best of the rest after finishing behind only the ‘big three’ last year. But while the team are “optimistic, but realistic” about their chances for the season, they are still confident they can make progress in 2020.
But the question remains about teams’ decisions for this year’s development as all the teams debate when to change to 2021, because of the dramatic changes in the regulations.
Renault did not launch their car as such, at the ‘launch’ F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul when he said their current car was actually “in bits” and that other teams had been presenting “fake cars”. The car will be revealed in the pit lane on Wednesday morning.
Also revealing their car officially on Wednesday is Alfa Romeo, although they tested the car at Fiorano on Valentine’s Day, with a special livery. Alpha Tauri launched the most striking livery last week with a while and dark livery.
All the teams will hit the track from 08:00GMT on Wednesday at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya.
Renault future looks safer – Abiteboul
Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says the French car manufacturer’s position in the sport is looking safer now the company’s future management structure has been sorted.
The scandal which has engulfed the Renault-Nissan alliance following the arrest of its former CEO Carlos Ghosn by Japanese police over financial misconduct prompted a major review of its operations. Acting CEO Clotilde Delbos said last October that it would question all its activities as it mapped out a plan for the future
Despite announcing major losses for the first time in a decade which will prompt cost-cutting measures, Abiteboul says all the indications were that the F1 team was safe, ahead of new CEO Luca de Meo’s arrival later in the year.
Asked by Motorsport.com earlier this week about the latest developments on the future of the F1 team, Abiteboul said: “On Renault, I guess the main development is the fact that we have a confirmation of the new governance structure finally. It’s been a number of evolutions, like in F1.”
“But now in Luca de Meo, we have a clear CEO. He will not join before July, but at least we have a date and a name. In addition to that, the single most important piece of information, whether you got it or not, is the fact that Clotilde Delbos current acting CEO will remain as deputy CEO when de Meo arrives. That’s very important.”
Abiteboul says there will be continuity of the governance, continuity also of the decisions. He believes that Delbos, who is currently the manufacturer’s chief financial officer, is well aware of the financial benefits of the sport.
Adding “She’s also very naturally driven by figures. To look at F1 from a financial perspective it’s a cost, but it’s also an asset. And it’s an investment. Any way you look, it is pointing in the right direction. Audience exposure or market share [is going up].”
Four times champion and non-executive director Alain Prost admitted he had ‘concerns’ about the company’s commitment to F1, but he sees more positive signs now. Adding “It is always a concern for sure, especially being a big constructor and also we cannot hide all the problems with the president who left, and the organisation changed completely.”
Imola offers to replace Shanghai
The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari has offered to fill the slot vacated by the Chinese Grand Prix. The race was postponed following the outbreak of the coronavirus last week, the first time a race has been postponed since 2011.
A Dutch website Racing News 365, says that the circuit which hosted the race between 1981 and 2006, which is still associated with the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.
Imola does hold an FIA Grade One license, would now like Liberty and the F1’s governing body to consider a return of F1 to its track during the April period.
Imola boss Roberto Marazzi told Racingnews365, “We have indeed submitted an application to the FIA and to the F1 organisation to replace the Chinese GP. We have not yet received a response to this. I expect it will be difficult to arrange everything.”
“Difficult”, as Marazzi puts it, is perhaps understating the task of organizing a Grand Prix on such short notice, given the logistics involved with the event, let alone the finances.
Sainz in no rush for a new deal
Carlos Sainz says he is in “no rush at all” to agree on a new contract with McLaren beyond the end of the season, but has already held early conversations about his future.
The Spaniard joined McLaren on a two-year deal at the end of 2018, and alongside rookie, Lando Norris led the team to their best finish in the championship since the start of the last decade. Sainz also scored his and the teams’ first podium for over five years at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Spaniard enters the final year of his existing contract in 2020 and said that while early conversations about the future have taken place, he saw no need to rush negotiations.
When asked by Motorsport.com about his future, Sainz said “Obviously it’s not a secret that I’m very happy here in McLaren, and there have obviously been some things going on in the background. We started to talk already, but at the same time, we’re going to take it easy because we are in February. So there’s no rush at all.”
He added that he was very happy with the team and has faith in the project, as well as the way its planning out.
F1 team principal Andreas Seidl echoed Sainz’s thoughts, saying the team would not look to dive into formal contract talks too early. He said, “We all like always clarity as soon as possible. But especially on this topic, I think there’s no rush for us at the moment to make any decisions or announcements.”
He added that they are happy with Norris and Sainz, which Seidl believes is important for the team to make the next step. Sainz finished the year sixth in the points, only trailing the five race-winning drivers.
Adding “I think it played a very decent part in the way the season panned out. Having a bit of stability always helps any athlete or racing driver.”
You can read our testing Prixview here. We will have full coverage from Wednesday morning and a full look ahead to testing in our F1 Today Prixview tomorrow evening.