McLaren will create “positive pressure” on Renault
Four times champion and advisor to Renault Alain Prost says the deal to supply McLaren will create “positive pressure” on the works team.
Since the deal was confirmed, there have been questions about why the French manufacturer would want to supply its power unit to another major team when it already faces competition from Red Bull, but Prost can only see benefits. The Frenchman told Autosport “It will make pressure because we will have one more competitor in our field.”
“But we know that and we hope that it’s going to be positive pressure, and it’s a fact that we have to beat everybody.” Prost says that the team made progress this year and leapfrogging Toro Rosso at the last race was just a reward.
However, while he says that sixth place was respectable, Prost believes that they were the fourth team in terms of performance without the reliability problems. Prost added that wasn’t an excuse because Abu Dhabi proved what they are capable of.
Adding “If we wanted to, we could go a little bit more, but we also wanted to be a little bit safe. The gap to the front is still big, but at least you start like this to make everything a little bit better.”
“So it’s very positive. We are also going to improve the performance of the engine, but it’s always a risk, it’s always a challenge for us.” Prost added that even sixth place was a jump in finances even for a manufacturer team.
Adding “The fact is that the last race is very important, it gives the motivation to the people during the winter, they feel a little bit less pressure, they are happier to work.”
Several “small things” to improve on – Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen says he only needs to change several “small things” next season to return to winning ways in 2018. Raikkonen claimed his first pole position in nine years in Monaco, one of the very few high points of what was a frustrating season.
The Finn was unable to mount his own championship challenge, but took five podiums while helping his teammate Sebastian Vettel fight for the title. Asked by ESPN, what he needed to turn things around in 2018, Raikkonen said, “I think it is question of many things. If it will be easy everybody could win. But it is a lot of things. Small things.”
He added, “It has been very close with quite a few cars over the races, and it is small things that count over the race weekends.” Raikkonen says that the team needs to be faster more often and needs to be in a position to win.
“Obviously I am here to try to win races and win championships, so it is far from ideal. But this is how it turned out to be. I can live with it, but it is not why I am here.”
Ferrari set launch date
Ferrari has announced they will be launching their 2018 car online on 22nd February ahead of testing in Barcelona. The Italian team had a successful 2017, winning five races and fight for the drivers’ championship with Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari will launch next year’s car on online before the car is taken to Barcelona early for a filming day ahead of testing starting on the following Monday.
Speaking at Ferrari’s annual pre-Christmas media dinner in Maranello, president Sergio Marchionne said he had no doubt the Prancing Horse will fight for the title again in 2018.
Aston Martin believes it’s the “disruptor”
Aston Martin says it believes it is in the position of “disruptor” in the debate about the next set of Formula One engine regulations which are due to be brought in 2021.
In October, the British manufacturer was “encouraged” by the direction that the future engine regulations were taking. However, the current manufacturers Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault have all raised doubts about the direction of the regulations.
While Aston understands the approach that the current manufacturers are taking, it has also made it clear that it would go about its programme differently. Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer, told Motorsport.com “We are acutely conscious that the current incumbents will try to bring the sport towards whatever they have right now.”
“I would if I was in their shoes too. We stick out there as the disruptor, which I like. If we do an engine, we won’t do it by ourselves. We’ll start now to look for partners.”
“That’s a partnership from a technical point of view and from a manufacturing point of view. We are starting that study now in parallel to the machination of the regulations.” Aston is committing to the sport because of the promise of reducing the costs of engine development.
However, Palmer says that there is still some way to go and has written a letter to the FIA and Liberty Media to set out the position from the point of view of an independent manufacturer. Saying “The main point of our position was to try and standardise the bottom end, so an independent manufacturer can buy from other people.”
“There’s no competition around that bottom end. Let’s get rid of the heat recovery on the turbocharger. That’s got hundreds of people working on something that is not so relevant.” He also added that the F1 project needed money, saying the board needs to get behind the program.
Mercedes capable of 1,000bph – Cowell
Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell says that the German manufacturer is close to producing a Formula One engine which is able to deliver a thousandth break horsepower.
The German manufacturer has dominated the V6 hybrid era, claiming four back to back world titles. The development has been at a great rate over the last year, to the extent that the team has broken the 900bph and says that it is now on course to break 1000bph.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Cowell said “We’re close. I’m sure that’ll happen at some point.” Mercedes reached a landmark achievement on the dyno when it broke the fifty percent thermal efficiency barrier for the first time.
That fifty percent efficiency means that the manufacturer has built the most efficient racing ever. Thermal efficiency is calculated on the amount of useful energy that can be produced from a given amount of heat input, has become a key focus for modern engine builders.
In F1, it is particularly important because of the strict fuel-flow limit rate of 100kg/hour. Asked how long that would take to transfer from the dyno onto the track, he said that would be answered in the early part of next year.
Cowell added “We need to see how the power unit development goes through the winter and our prove-out goes through the winter, and it’s a balance with the car as well. There are engines running on the dyno – that’s one thing.”
Verstappen impresses Horner in difficult moments
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the thing, which impressed him the most about Max Verstappen this year was the way the Dutchman, managed the difficult moments.
Verstappen went through a long spell of poor results and lost out on podiums because of reliability problems, meaning he finished the season well behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo. He also admitted he started to lose faith in Red Bull and Renault ever being able to get on top of their problems.
But a victory in Malaysia, which helped trigger talks that resulted in him signing a contract extension, lifted spirits and he followed that up with another win in Mexico.
Looking back on 2017, Horner says his stand out moment was how Verstappen managed to not let the emotions of the difficult times get him down. He told Motorsport.com “I think Max has had the benefit of experience and he has just grown in experience of racing in general. It is easy to forget it is only his fourth year of car racing.”
“And what has really impressed me this year is the way that he has dealt with some of the difficult moments. There have been quite a few of those, particularly in the summer months.”
“But he has kept working hard at it, he has kept the hours up on the simulator every week and his application is first class, and obviously his ability is unquestionable.” Horner says Verstappen has found a balance now, between his aggression and his brilliant car control.
Asked when Verstappen learnt that, he said “The moves in Hungary or Monza were the only two mistakes he has made this year. There is a fine line between hero and villain.”
Senna’s death still raw and immediate – Newey
Red Bull’s Adrian Newey has opened up about his own personal turmoil after the death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marina Grand Prix. Newey was the chief designer at Williams and designed the car that Senna was driving.
The three times world champion crashed after going straight on a Tamburello and hit the barrier. There has been no clear explanation about why Senna crashed and suffered fatal head injuries.
Newey told Sky Sports, at the launch of his new book ‘How To Build A Car’, “The whole Imola weekend was a horrible weekend. Twenty-three years later, it still feels quite raw and immediate. It was an extremely difficult time.
“I’d never thought about the question: ‘If somebody was hurt, or worse still, passes away in a car that I’d been responsible for, how would I feel?’. Then suddenly this happens.
“If you’re in that situation, and you don’t question your involvement – if it happens once it can happen again – then you’re a fool. For me, this has been my life, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and something I’ve been lucky to end up doing – but there’s a catch there. There was a bit of soul searching to be done.”
Newey was later charged with manslaughter going through thirteen years of criminal investigation but was eventually cleared. He also wrote, “I will always feel a degree of responsibility for Ayrton’s death but not culpability.”
Speaking about the three times champion, Newey said “Ayrton was a great man. People talk about somebody having an aura about them – and it’s very difficult to quantify why you would feel that. Is it because of what they’ve achieved, or the personality?”
“Whatever it was, Ayrton had that aura where if you were with him or talking to him – his enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and energy was infusive.”
The book ‘How To Build A Car’, is available now