Sainz to replace Alonso at McLaren
McLaren announced on Thursday, that Carlos Sainz has signed a multi-year deal to replace Fernando Alonso from 2019. On Tuesday, the two times champion announced he was retiring from F1 at the end of the season.
The twenty-three-year-old who is currently on loan from Red Bull to Renault described joining McLaren as a “childhood dream.” Adding “I’ve been a McLaren fan for as long as I can remember.”
“It’s a great name in the sport with an incredible heritage, and the list of drivers that have raced for McLaren over the years are among the heroes of Formula 1.” Sainz says it is “particularly special” that he was replacing Alonso.
Sainz made his debut alongside Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso un 2015, he was favourite to join Red Bull after it was announced that Daniel Ricciardo would replace him at Red Bull. However, the fractious relationship with Verstappen may have ruled him out.
McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown says he knew of Alonso’s decision months before his announcement, and so had been speaking to drivers “up and down the grid” about replacing the two-time world champion.
Speaking about Sainz, Brown told Sky Sports “It’s no secret that Carlos is a huge admirer of Fernando’s, and it’s fitting that he will be stepping into his seat as a Spaniard with a legendary name in motorsport.”
“We think he’ll be a great fit for McLaren and we’re really excited to have him join us from next season and beyond.”
It will now be expected that Pierre Gasly, will move up to Red Bull and Brendon Hartley will stay at Toro Rosso. But there isn’t the clear succession at Red Bull/Toro Rosso, the next in line Dan Ticktum currently doesn’t currently have enough points to gain a super licence.
The question now is who will partner Sainz at McLaren, Stoffel Vandoorne would give McLaren stability. However, the Belgian has struggled to consistently match Alonso this season.
Sirotkin has no regrets about joining Williams
Sergey Sirotkin has no regrets about joining Williams this season, despite the teams difficult 2018 and says that he is putting his heart into the team’s recovery.
The Russian also believes the experience will give him “something extra” over other drivers in the long run as he looks to build his reputation. This season, Williams has been the back markers and are currently last in the constructors, as Sirotkin and Lance Stroll struggle with an underperforming car.
Sirotkin is the only driver on the grid who hasn’t scored a point this year, that is despite him out qualifying his more experienced teammate. It would be a tough season for any of the experienced drivers on the grid. Despite the woes, he insists that would have still joined Williams if he had known how difficult it would have been.
He told Sky Sports “It is tough and for a rookie driver it’s so much easier to do the job in a car that is much easier to drive. But at the same time, it does really give you something extra that not many drivers would face in their season.”
“I’m in a good position to prove something to some people, that even in the really difficult moments and really difficult situations, I can still deliver and be the guy who can pull up the team.”
Williams’s deputy team principal Claire Williams, has described her team’s season as “soul destroying”.
However, the Russian has said he feels that he has done all he can with his performances while admitting that it has been a very big challenge he feels happy with the way he has recovered the situation.
Saying “ I’ve recovered the situation and I really feel that I have my certain position in the team, and I do really enjoy taking this responsibility and this challenge.”
He added. “It’s been so often that I think I’ve done a very good job, but from the outside, it looks like I’ve not done a crumb more than just OK.”
Ocon believes “matter of time” before Mercedes drive
Esteban Ocon believes that its “just a matter of time” before he gets a chance with Mercedes, and says that his long-term future remains with the German manufacturer.
The Frenchman is currently in his second full season with Mercedes customer Force India and was in the running to replace Valtteri Bottas at the works team. However, the team has decided to retain Bottas for 2019, with an option for 2020.
Ocon was then linked to move to Renault, on loan from Mercedes, that was before the shock move of Daniel Ricciardo to the French manufacturer.
Speaking before the Ricciardo move, the Frenchman told Motorsport.com, “The bosses [at Mercedes] have plans for me that are ‘not yet’. It’s not the plan for now. I think they want me to have more experience before I jump in that car.”
“I knew that already. I have targets I have to respect. At the moment they are happy with the job I’m doing. It’s just a matter of time, I think.” Ocon said he was “not surprised” by the Bottas decision, saying that Mercedes was “definitely” his longer-term plan regardless of what happens next season.
“My future will be sorted out soon. I’m not worried amit all. I’m not in a position [with] the knife under my chin. The job we are doing with Force India this year is strong and everyone is happy with that.”
Ocon has been a Mercedes driver since 2015 when he won the GP3 championship. He was chosen over Pascal Wehrlein for the Force India seat, his options for 2019 appear to be limited.
If he remains at Force India, he will be expected to partner Williams’s Lance Stroll. Stroll’s billionaire father led the consortium which saved the team from administration.
Renault believe expansion in workforce harmed car
Renaults doubling of its workforce since re-joining Formula One has hurt the value for money with the development of this year’s car. Since the French manufacturer rebought in 2015-16, the Enstone team they have been on an aggressive recruitment drive and redevelopment at Enstone.
This season the investment has become to pay off, as the team has made a significant step forward. One of the things which has proved a significant challenge, is integrating staff and impacted the efficiency of the operation.
Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com: “It’s a challenge because we are not talking about a couple of heads, we are talking about hundreds of heads. You can tactically recruit one or two people but when you are talking about dozens of people it doesn’t work the same way and you need to have good integration.”
“We had a very low efficiency this season, if we look at the sort of bang-for-buck and how we are controlling the car build, the way that, unfortunately, we have overspent on car build.” The Frenchman says that is all relevant to the increase.
Renaults focus over the last two years has been increasing its staff numbers, however, more recently the team has switched to look at the efficacy and operational side.
Over the summer break, the teams’ immediate focus has been on doubling its composites facility, that will alleviate a delay in producing parts. This will allow it to better utilise the quality of its facilities, including a wind tunnel based at the factory.
Renault has still enacted significant staffing changes this year, most notably the move of Marcin Budkowski from the FIA to Renault’s executive director.
Former team principal and more recently chief technical officer Bob Bell has also moved into to a part-time advisory role and will not be replaced. Abiteboul sees the team growing further after 2018, at a reduced rate.
F1 needs McLaren back from “turmoil” – Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hopes that McLaren can recover from their current “turmoil” because Formula One “needs McLaren to be performing” given its history.
The British team are the second oldest and most successful team in the sport’s history, after Ferrari. However, the team hasn’t been on the podium since 2014, hasn’t won a race since 2012 and last won a drivers championship in 2008. While you need to go 1998 for their last constructors.
After three disastrous seasons with works Honda power, McLaren switched to Renault customer engines for 2018 but has languished well off the pace of Red Bull, which has won three races with the same engine.
McLaren has scored forty points this season, but since a major overhaul of its technical department has scored less points. The team are struggling to understand why the car is struggling with downforce.
Horner said “McLaren is a great team. It’s got huge history – it’s, I think the second most winning team in Formula 1 – so Formula 1 needs McLaren to be performing at a high level.”
“They’ve obviously got their challenges at the moment, and obviously look in a bit of turmoil, but hopefully within time they’ll manage to address that.”
All this while the technical team has been sacked, plus the resignations of racing director Eric Boullier and lead driver Fernando Alonso, who announced his retirement on Tuesday.
Miscommunication on Schumacher move to Mallorca
The Spanish government has blamed mistranslations which fuelled media reports that seven times champion Michael Schumacher was about to move to Mallorca to continue his recovery from his head injury.
There were reports that Schumacher’s family where going to move from their current home in Switzerland to Mallorca. These came after reports that that the family had purchased a new house on the Spanish island.
However, Schumacher’s management quickly moved to deny the reports that Schumacher would be leaving Switzerland. His representative Sabine Kehm told Motorsport.com: “The fact is the Schumacher family does not plan to move to Mallorca.”
Now in a statement from the town of Andratx says that Now, Spanish authorities in the Mallorcan town of Andratx have issued a statement to clarify the situation and make clear that there was never a suggestion from its representatives that the Schumacher’s were moving there.
The statement said that quotes attributed to the Mayoress Katia Rouarach claiming that Schumacher’s move was happening had been misunderstood.
“In reference to the latest news related to Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher, his family, and the municipality of Andratx, the Town Hall of Andratx wants to clear that the words attributed to Mayoress Katia Rouarach are not correct and are probably the result of misinterpretation or misunderstanding, perhaps due to language translation,” said the statement.
“The Mayoress of Andratx, in a recent interview for the Swiss magazine l’lllustré, confirmed the information already known that the Schumacher family bought a house in Port d’Andratx.
The council added that the mayor didn’t say they were moving and said the Mayor only said “in case the family decides to move here, we will be prepared for their arrival. In this case, they would be treated as any other citizen of Andratx.”
The seven times champion continues to recover at home from the serious head injuries he suffered in a skiing accident in 2013.
The Week Ahead
Next week Formula One’s summer break comes to an end with the Belgian Grand Prix. The focus of the media will be on both Stoffel Vandoorne and Max Verstappen, this is their home race. Both drivers have had an up and down season, so we expect questions.
The next fortnight we will expect Ferrari to confirm who will partner Sebastian Vettel next season. The team are now expected to announce Kimi Raikkonen alongside Vettel, the rumours about Charles Leclerc have gone quiet.
Drivers will begin looking ahead to the second half of the season, no more so than Fernando Alonso. His retirement announcement will be one of the biggest questions both at this weekend six hours of Silverstone, but more so at Spa.
The next two weeks could be key for both Lewis Hamilton and Vettel, both will want a strong start going into the Asian/Americas leg. They both know this is the key point in the season, mistakes now have in the past have been costly for both drivers.
The news agenda I think will be around the regulations ahead of the next strategy group meeting around the beginning of September. The focus has to be on the finalisation of the next engine regulations as there are only two WMSC’s left this year.