McLaren shake down the MCL35M
McLaren hit the track on Tuesday with there first Mercedes powered car in seven years the MCL35M. Lando Norris was the first to drive the car at a wet Silverstone before Daniel Ricciardo then made his track debut for the team in the car later in the day.
The team used one of its filming days where they are limited to 100km, and are requires to run on a special compound of tyre.
Norris told Sky Sports, “First of all, it’s just nice to be back in a race car. It’s nice to sit in the bit of machinery everyone has been working hard to put together. Hats off and big thanks to everyone in the team.
“It was nice. Wet and difficult conditions to get an initial feeling, but lovely to be back in a race car and pushing it to the limit. A little bit of oversteers and understeers in there, and that’s what I like.”
McLaren has improved their final position in F1’s Constructors’ Championship in each of the past three seasons and last year returned to third place for the first time since 2012.
This year the team has signed Ricciardo from Alpine, and have returned to Mercedes engines making them optimistic of continuing their progression into the new season.
Ricciardo says it was a good opportunity to get back up to speed, as the team used the opportunity to get back up to speed after the winter.
Ricciardo said, “It feels longer than two months actually! It always takes a little bit to get the confidence up. I think as well in these conditions, it’s greasy, they don’t fill you with a lot of confidence after it being a while since being in a car.”
However, Zak Brown insisted a push for F1’s world title at this stage was “unrealistic”.
Saying “All we can hope for and are striving for is closing the gap to Mercedes, who we anticipate to be the fastest team again in 2021”
“The rules haven’t changed significantly so I don’t think 2021 will look much different from 2020 for the entire grid, other than expecting it to get even closer.”
Norris picking up pointers from Ricciardo
Lando Norris says he is already picking up pointers on the simulator from his new McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Englishman’s new teammate has joined the team on a three-year contract, with the expectation that his experience can boost the team.
Norris says he won’t know until the season begins where Ricciardo will push him the most and help him develop, but revealed he is already gleaning pointers from his new team-mate in McLaren’s simulator.
Norris said ahead of Tuesday’s running at Silverstone, “It’s difficult to me to know just yet, I need to wait until we’re on-track and we do our first shakedown.”
“I will already be able to take things away from just doing a few laps learning from him, learning from his feedback. There are things on the simulator already I’ve been able to pick up on.” He says that in testing and at the first race he will find out how and where he’s going to push me more.
Ricciardo is the most experienced driver that McLaren has had since Fernando Alonso left the team at the end of 2018, having been on the F1 grid since 2011.
Although Ricciardo is a veteran compared to Norris, who will be in just his third season, the ex-Red Bull driver acknowledged there would be lots he could learn from his younger team-mate about working at McLaren.
The Australian added, “I’m certainly the more experienced in terms of being in F1, this being my 11th season. But actually, in terms of McLaren, Lando has the more experience. Sure there’s some things I can learn from him, particularly within the team itself and kind of integration into the McLaren family.”
Ricciardo says every time you have a new teammate is a real opportunity to learn something new, whether it’s work ethic, or a driving technique, or both.
Albert Park outlines changes to circuit layout
Organisers of the Australian Grand Prix have announced the Albert Park Circuit will be modified ahead of Novembers race. Over the last few years, the organisers have been planning the upgrade to the circuit including reprofiling of corners and resurfacing.
Phase One has already been completed, with pit lane widened by two metres and the pit wall moved to the edge of the road in place of a grass verge, a move that could see the pitlane speed limit lifted.
Phase Two of the works will see Clark and Turn Ten be changed into a sweeping corner on the western side of the circuit. This will make the speed higher through Eleven and Twelve, this could make the braking zone at Ascari harder and create an overtaking opportunity.
The right-hand Ascari will also be re-profiled, with a wider entry and additional camber to make it less of a single-lane through the corner. Work will begin on the layout changes next Monday and is expected to be completed by July.
Phase three will see the complete resurfacing of the circuit before November’s postponed race. These changes are the first to Albert Park since the race returned to the city in 1995, following a spell in Adelaide
Drivers and team bosses have long been critical of the layout and its lack of clear-cut overtaking opportunities.
Motorsport.com revealed back in 2017 that the Australian Grand Prix Corporation had seriously considered ditching the Turn 11/12 complex in favour of a stop corner, but ultimately shelved the plan.
Red Bull has full control of future
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the team has full control of its own future now it will manufacture their own engines.
On Monday, it was announced the team would take over the technology from Honda to manufacture the power units themselves at their headquarters in Milton Keynes in a newly created Red Bull powertrain division.
Horner believes that having their own engine is a major step forward for the team in their attempt to challenge once more for the world championship. He told The Guardian “We have taken control of our own destiny, in respect of integrating power unit with chassis.”
“It puts us on an even keel with the likes of Mercedes, the likes of Ferrari and Renault. You would have never thought we could have done what we’ve managed to achieve over the years with the chassis. The challenge now is to try and replicate that within the power unit.”
Red Bull had four back to back drivers and constructors champion between 2010-13, but in the turbo-hybrid era have been unable to challenge Mercedes.
The team dropped Renault in 2019 in favour of Honda, who made significant progress in the last two years. Red Bull remains convinced that being customer engine they would have been unable to achieve engine manufacture independence.
Horner admitted that the likelihood of Red Bull’s participation in F1 would have been “seriously diminished.”
Engine development will be frozen from 2022 to 2025 when new regulations will be introduced, and Horner emphasised that their decision was indicative of his team’s competitive intent.
Red Bull was the only team able to challenge Mercedes last season consistently, however, they say that this is a long term commitment. Its win in Abu Dhabi the first time Mercedes have been beaten since 2013 gives them optimism.
Perez and Verstappen taking Red Bull back to the future
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is expecting that the team’s new line up of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen will allow the team to replicate the challenge to Mercedes like when Verstappen was partnered with Daniel Ricciardo.
The team has won races in six of the seven seasons since Mercedes took over as the team to beat at the beginning of the hybrid era in 2014. Since Ricciardo left to join Renault at the end of 2018, only Verstappen has continued to take victories.
In the last two seasons, Verstappen’s teammates Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly only have finished twice in the top three, while teammates. While they both had a significant pace gap to Verstappen during their respective brief time as his teammate.
Red Bull hopes that Perez’s decade of experience and maiden win in Sakhir can help it to ensure they can have two cars regularly threatening or beating the Mercedes drivers in 2021. They have lost results in the last two seasons when Mercedes was able to successfully use the strategic advantage of two cars fighting one rival.
Horner told Autosport in an interview, that Perez will have a tough time beating Verstappen early on and that limited testing wouldn’t help. He said, “It’ll be very difficult to get himself up to speed in just one test, straightaway.”
“But he has the benefit of a lot of experience and, of course, we are expecting him to be close to Max and challenging – in a way that we had with Daniel Ricardo and Max for three seasons.”
Williams shakedown car
Williams has announced they will formally launch there 2021 the FW43 on Friday 5th March. Today the team used one of its filming days to carry out a shakedown of the car at Silverstone.
the car is the first the team has produced since the departure of the Williams family after it was sold to Dorilton Capital. It’s understood the day ran smoothly and Williams completed their programme as hoped.
The team are hoping that the new investment in the team will allow it to finish higher in the constructors’ championship for the last three years.
OMP Racing becomes Williams official partner
Williams has announced that OMP Racing has become its official supplier of technical performance products. OMP Racing is one of the leading manufacturers of safety components.
From this year they will provide the team with performance racing overalls, boots, gloves and underwear. These products will come from its research and development in the company’s manufacturing facility located near Genoa, Italy.
OMP Racing will provide their latest generation safety harnesses for the team’s Formula One cars. The harnesses feature ultra-light fibre and ultra-light materials such as titanium and ergal.
They will also provide the team with driver kit bags, branded luggage for the race team, and will have prominent branding visible on performance racewear, seatbelts and on the drivers’ headrests.
Williams commercial and marketing director, Tim Hunt, said “OMP Racing is one of the leading suppliers of high-tech performance wear for top level motorsport and we are delighted to have agreed a new multi-year partnership with them.”
“In Formula One, every detail matters and we know that OMP’s technology, whether it is being worn by our race drivers and pit crew, or fitted in our car, will help our team perform to the highest level.”
OMP President and CEO, Paolo Delprato, added: “For OMP, partnering with Williams Racing means resuming a chapter of our history. We first had the honour to work with the team in the nineties, so it is particularly special to be working with Williams once again, a team that is so historic in motorsport and Formula One.”