No plans to cancel Monaco – ACM
The Automobile Club de Monaco has insisted that their plans for a triple header in six weeks, including the Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco ePrix and Monaco Historic Grand Prix will go ahead despite fears it may need to be cancelled due to coronavirus.
Races held on street circuits with government backing are widely regarded as being more vulnerable to cancellation or postponement than races at traditional venues, in large part due to the lead time and resources required to ready the circuits.
All last year’s events apart from Rally de Monaco were cancelled in March due to the pandemic as the city-state and neighbouring France went into a strict lockdown. Already this year’s Australian Grand Prix has been postponed and both Baku and Montreal are also under threat.
Melbourne, Monte Carlo and Baku which require weeks of build to prepare the circuit are seen as the most vulnerable to cancellation, while Montreal is a semi-permanent venue, it does require extra work every year.
Track action is scheduled to start two weeks earlier than normal with the historic race on 21st – 23rd April followed by the Monaco ePrix on. The 08th May, followed by F1 and F2 on 20 – 23 May.
Monaco has like many countries have placed strict border controls and lockdowns to control the spread of the virus.
Honda wants a winning final year – Tanabe
Honda’s technical director Toyoharu Tanabe wants their final season with Red Bull and Alpha Tauri to be a winning one rather than a forlorn farewell, with more race victories and a championship challenge the clear target.
The Japanese manufacturer shocked the sport in October when it announced it would be withdrawing from the sport at the end of 2021. After three unsuccessful years with McLaren, Honda teamed up with Toro Rosso for 2018, before taking on Red Bull as a works team the following year.
Across the two teams, they have clinched five race victories to date in their two-and-a-half-year partnership with the Red Bull family. However, it decided not to renew the deal and withdraw from the sport at the end of the year.
Tanabe told F1.com, “Of course, we are developing our new power unit for 2021, not only for performance but also reliability and then we know our position is still behind the Mercedes.”
“Then the other competitors don’t sleep during the off-season So we have a very short off-season this year, but everyone involved in Formula One makes maximum effort to win races, also the championship, so it’s not… easy to tell you we will win.”
He says they would be delighted to challenge for the title this season, with Tanabe explaining after the season finale that Honda had made great strides in reliability and reiterated their lofty goal for next season.
Tanabe says victory in Abu Dhabi was a strong result to round of the season and they had improved reliability and reiterated their lofty goal for next season.
Adding “Overall, this was a strong result for Honda to round off the year Another positive is that we learned from previous seasons: improving our reliability so that we used just the three PUs allowed per driver, taking no PU-related penalties.”
Alpha Tauri believes big advantage from wind tunnel switch
Alpha Tauri believes switching to Red Bull’s sixty per cent wind tunnel will offer them a “big advantage” in designing the 2022 car. Following the re-band of the team last year, Red Bull says they see Alpha Tauri now as a sister team rather than a B-team.
As part of the change in approach from Red Bull, the Italian team will no longer use its own wind tunnel and switches to Red Bull’s facility at Bedford to complete all development work on its 2022 car.
This has been afforded by the new handicap system on wind tunnel time introduced to F1 this year, meaning both teams can use the same wind tunnel. Last year the team switched to using a sixty per cent wind tunnel.
Team principal Franz Tost was confident the switch would act as a further boost to Alpha Tauri’s fortunes moving forward, in tandem with the new cost cap and regulation change for 2022.
Tost told Autosport, “It’s a big advantage to change to the 60% wind tunnel because up to now we’ve always had to work with the 50%. The 60% is of course more accurate and provides us with hopefully more valid data.”
“Then we have the second year of the cost cap, which means the top teams should not be in a position to invest so much more money as we do.” Tost says he is looking forward to the regulation change, but he admits he doesn’t know where the team will be.
Technical director Jody Egginton has confidence that the move to a 60% model would remove any lingering doubts because they have been held back by using a smaller wind tunnel.
Adding, “I wanted to go to 60%, and that was the obvious choice, so that’s why we’ve done it really. It is a challenge. I think any wind tunnel move is not without risk, but medium-term it’s the thing to be doing really.”
“We are the only one at 50% and it was a growing question mark in my mind, so given the opportunity to have a 60% tunnel we took it.” Egginton says the goal was to be more competitive and the switch of wind tunnel has removed question marks.
Brivio confirmed as Alpine’s racing director
Alpine has confirmed that Suzuki Moto GP team principal David Brivio as the teams racing director. The Renault team has been rebranded to the manufacturers sub-brand for this season and has already announced Cyril Abiteboul has left the team.
Brivio’s arrival, a respected team manager of MotoGP’s Suzuki, has been announced, although Alpine say ‘his specific role and responsibilities will be announced in the coming weeks’. While technical director Marcin Budkowski is expected to be announced as team principal.
Brivio arrives with a wealth of experience having fronted Suzuki’s MotoGP project – leading them to the championship last season. The Italian left the team last week.
He will report to newly-appointed CEO Laurent Rossi at Alpine.
Two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso is returning to the grid to join Alpine, alongside Esteban Ocon, and the team have already offered a glimpse of their livery for 2021.
Norris on a more serious approach to social media
Lando Norris says his more serious approach to his use of social media last year mad some fans to believe he was doing a better job in his second season.
The Englishman has built a profile throughout his career for his humorous and entertaining posts on social media, which has continued since he made his debut in 2019. But the McLaren driver said following his debut season that he wanted to be less jokey in his second year, believing there were areas he could focus on more.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, reflecting on his changed approach to social media, Norris explained how opted against making light of on-track struggles as he may have done in the past.
Saying, “On the whole, I would say there have been a lot less times and a lot less things, I guess mainly I post in social media, which are jokey. A lot of that is where it comes from, just what I decide to post post-race.”
“When it’s a difficult day [in 2019], I always took it as a bit of a joke, or portrayed it as a joke with some of my comments on social media and things. Sometimes [last] year all I’ve done is [write], ‘tough day in the office, head down onto the next one’. And it’s as simple as that.”
Norris says that is the same as he would have done last year, going to the factory to work on the next race, trying to figure out what went wrong. While joking about it on social media. He believes that people thought ‘oh he’s not doing any work, that’s why he’s not doing well enough, because he is just too jokey.’
The Englishman scored his maiden podium in the opening race and went on to score nearly double the number points he managed in his rookie year, which helped McLaren to third in the constructor’s championship.
Norris said that he still received some feedback that he was not working hard enough due to his approach towards social media, but said those within the team knew how he worked and how committed he was.
Norris explained, “I still get similar things from a lot of people about how I’m too jokey still and how I don’t work hard enough and so on. But within the team, people know what I do, and that’s all that matters in my opinion, and what I know of myself and how hard I work and things like that.”
The McLaren driver has tended to post things like, ‘head down, onto the next one.’ This has allowed Norris to paint the image of working better and allowed him to paint the image that he was working better and that I’m doing a better job this year.
Motivating the team Ricciardo’s hidden qualities
Alpine chassis technical director Pat Fry believes one of Daniel Ricciardo’s hidden and most striking qualities is motivating a team.
Fry has been working with the Australian for the last two years, allowing him to observe how he works with his engineers and crew when out of the car, Fry says that it is the Australian’s attitude to work that really stands out as a huge benefit.
He told Motorsport.com, “I think Daniel’s outstanding. He’s clearly very quick and very sensible. But I think also, when you actually look at the way he motivates a team and that side of it, which often gets forgotten, he is great.”
“Even when you’ve had a session that’s not as good as you would have hoped or whatever, he’s still big enough to see the benefits of what we’ve learned in that and that we will do ‘better tomorrow’ type of thing.” Fry says that is a good way of pulling the team together describing him as outstanding and pretty exceptional really.
Ricciardo has left the Alpine team to join McLaren this season, with Fernando Alonso returning to the team. Fry says that the two times champion is pretty prepared for what lies ahead, after Alonso embedded himself in the team towards the end of 2020.
Fry added, “He’s been obviously in the simulator, and a lot of these things are about trying to get familiar with some even simple things. It sounds simple, but you need to learn how to drive the power unit these days. Even the same power unit, in a different car, it’s completely different in how we set things up.”
He says there is a lot of learning that he needs to do, and Alonso has been listening to things like debriefs and other stuff like that all trying to embed him in the team.
Williams wants to retain the family feel – Dorilton
Williams owners Dorilton Capital says they are determined to retain the close family feel which has characterised the team for decades. The team is going under restructuring as they put new investment as it seeks a return to the midfield.
Despite the departure of Sir Frank Williams and his daughter Claire, the new management of the team is adamant that any changes to the team will not be to the detriment of the tight-knit spirit that was the team’s trademark.
Speaking to Motorsport.com about Dorilton’s plan for Williams, team principal Simon Roberts is clear that there will be no effort to erase the team’s history.
Roberts said, “We’ve put together an investment plan that was focused at ‘what do we need to do, what can we do and what should we do to add performance to the team?’ Its 100 per cent focused on adding performance.”
“That does include making sure it’s a great place to work. So given that we [and] Dorilton don’t want to shift that lovely feel that exists within Williams, that kind of family spirit and friendliness, we are investing.”
He says to start with the investment will be in facilities at the factory, to make it a better place to work. They are starting with general maintenance which the team hasn’t been able to do for a while and stuff like that.
Roberts says the team retains a good relationship with the Williams family and hopes to have them back at races this year. But says Claire had a really tough time and has been keeping it together for this long was amazing.
Adding, “We’re Williams still. And that’s really important to us. A lot [of that is] just trying to be open, trying to be as diverse as we can, employing people with all different backgrounds and nationalities, ethnic backgrounds – that’s really super important to us.”
Giovinazzi delighted Raikkonen is his teammate
Antonio Giovinazzi says he delighted that Kimi Räikkönen will continue as his Alfa Romeo teammate this season, believing the Finn’s vast experience will be key to his development.
Towards the middle of last season there was speculation that the Italian team could change its driver line up, but in late October it was confirmed that both Raikkonen and Giovinazzi would stay on for the 2021 F1 season.
That means 2021 will be the third consecutive season Giovinazzi and 2007 world champion Raikkonen will form a driver partnership at the Hinwil team. 2020 was a difficult year for Alfa Romeo, who lost performance from the Ferrari engine with them finishing eighth in the constructors.
Giovinazzi believes Raikkonen’s presence at the team will continue to help him develop as a driver. Giovinazzi told Motorsport.com, “[With] Kimi again beside me next season I think I can still do another step.”
“It will be really important to watch him because I think, like I’ve said many times, he’s still one of the best on the grid, especially on the race pace and managing the race. I’m happy to continue with him.”
Last season, Raikkonen became the most experienced Grand Prix driver in history with three hundred and twenty nine starts. In 2019, Giovinazzi would often mimic the experienced Finn’s approach during a Grand Prix weekend.
During his sophomore campaign however, with a full season of F1 under his belt, the 27-year-old Italian started charting his own course. Giovinazzi explained, “When I came here [in 2019] I tried to focus more on Kimi’s side. To see what he was doing and why he was doing [it]. And in the end, I always followed him I would say.
“But [in 2020] I’d got more experience and I know what they want and what I like more – especially in the different tracks and different conditions. Experience makes a lot of difference in every category, maybe more in Formula One.”
Giovinazzi believes that he will feel more ready this year, and thinks he will feel again a lot more confident.