Renault a decade behind says Abiteboul
Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul says that the team was nearly a decade behind when they returned as a works team in 2016. The manufacturer ran the Enstone team between 2001-09, before selling the team to Genii Capital.
The manufacturer then brought back the team in 2015, but it became clear that the Enstone team was lacking investment because of a lack of money. Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “There was clearly a lack of investment under previous ownership.”
“But also at the end of Renault ownership, in the previous cycle, we really lost opportunities to modernise the place. If you go back into this sort of 2007/2008/2009 period, it was far from being great and it was the start of the lack of investment in Enstone.”
“So we almost need to play catch-up since 2007/2008, so that is almost 10 years where F1 has changed completely the universe.” Despite claiming to be a decade behind, he says that the team is “really not far” from having comparable resources to its rivals again.
He says that there signing of partners who believe in the project, with that meaning that improvements are on the way. One area which Renault has focused on is increasing manpower, Chester says this year’s target is for staffing to reach seven hundred.
Saying “We haven’t really had any big problems of departments not communicating, we have just been able to do more. Some of it is just making sure that the levels in the departments are balanced, so the drawing office can keep up with aero and production can been up with drawing office.”
Asked if the Enstone was on par with rival teams’, Chester replied: “Not just yet. But it is well underway. A lot of the building work is heading into its final stages, and that should be finished off February time. A lot of other infrastructure work is already complete so it is probably 70 percent there.”
Renault look to place young drivers in engine deals
Renault says future engine supply deals will be tied to placing their young drivers as they look to place one of their young drivers in Formula One in the next three years.
This week the French manufacturer announced its third intake to the programme since it was relaunched in 2016. This year the most experienced drivers British-Korean Jack Aitken will make his Formula Two debut at Aprils Bahrain Grand Prix.
Renault’s young driver programme was successful in the 2000’s as three drivers Robert Kubica, Heikki Kovalainen and Romain Grosjean all managed to get into F1. Recently, the four biggest teams Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren have successfully brought young drivers into the sport.
Managing director Cyril Abiteboul, told Sky Sports “No plan is constructed for the time being. But if you look at the way you can access F1, being able to use another team in order to confirm the fact that a driver is capable, it’s very useful.”
“We have this capacity in terms of what we are doing in terms of engine supply.” But they could encounter problems as they supply two of the biggest teams Red Bull and McLaren, who have their own programmes for young drivers.
Abiteboul believes there is a “connection between your engine supply strategy and your driver development strategy.” Suggesting that future customer engine deals could include such an element.
“We know that looking at Mercedes, looking at a number of teams in the past. That will also happen to us at some point in time. We cannot disconnect the two.”
Renault secured the services of the highly-rated Carlos Sainz on loan from the Red Bull stable as part of the complex negotiations which saw Toro Rosso and McLaren swap engines for 2018.
Sauber expect to be more competitive – Leclerc
Charles Leclerc says his Sauber team are expecting to be far more competitive boost this year because it has access to the latest Ferrari engine.
The Monacan driver will make his Formula One debut with the Swiss team this season after they strengthen their relationship with engine supplier Ferrari. The deal announced last month will see Sauber get Ferrari’s latest engine and gearbox this year as well as a fresh injection of financial backing from Alfa Romeo.
Sauber has finished tenth in the last two years, but Leclerc has confidence that this year will be more competitive for the team. He told ESPN, “Having the new 2018-spec Ferrari engine in place will be a big boost for the team. The newly formed partnership with Alfa Romeo is also exciting news.”
Leclerc says that his primary goal this year is to develop his skills as a driver. Adding “In terms of my expectations and goals, I will work hard to support the team in developing the car during the season, so that we are able to obtain the best possible results in the 2018 season.”
Leclerc has chosen seventeen as his car number but admits that wasn’t his first chose. Saying “My favourite number is 7. Unfortunately, that number is already taken. I was born on the 16th of October, so the number 16 is significant to me. Plus, if you add 1 and 6, you get 7 — that’s a good compromise!”
Wolff hits back over Abiteboul criticism
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has hit back against criticism about the way it contracts its staff, after criticism from his counterpart at Renault Cyril Abiteboul.
The Frenchmen said that the German manufacturer is being “unfair” it the way the put staff who leave the team on lengthy gardening leave spells to delay them switching to other F1 teams.
The Renault chief said the “aggressive” contractual terms are bad for F1 because they prevent the spreading of knowledge that keeps the grid competitive. However, Wolff says that his French counterpart’s comments came about because Renault failed in signing one of its staff.
Wolff told Motorsport.com “It is simply a matter of keeping the important parts of the organisation together to ensure stability. In this case, it was an employee who has just signed a new contract and whom Renault would have liked to see.”
“That wasn’t possible in that case because a replacement was missing.” Mercedes had a major shakeup last winter following the departure of technical boss Paddy Lowe and the appointment of James Allison.
Despite the shakeup, Mercedes still managed to secure both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships for the fourth successive year, proves the strength and depth of the outfit.
Wolff added “It is the breadth of the team that is responsible for success. Durability had a great influence on success. The team we’ve put on has done a good job.”
“Paddy has great qualities, but getting James Allison was the best decision we could have made.”
Vietnam set to join calendar
Vietnam could be on course to make its debut in Formula One calendar with a street race in the south Asian country, following meetings in London earlier this week.
On Wednesday, the promotor as seen at a meeting of the Formula One Promoters Association in the Sofitel London St James hotel. The meeting on Wednesday was followed by further meetings on Thursday, according to Forbes.
One source told the magazine “Vietnam street race is what they are going to announce.” It is believed that the plan could be for a street race in the capital Hanoi, but no official news about the race has been announced.
Autosport reported in October that the country was on a list of potential venues but it was in “on-going” talks with officials there. The Independent newspaper revealed that F1’s former chief executive Bernie Ecclestone gave the red light to a Vietnam before Chase Carey replaced him in the driving seat at the start of last year when Liberty took over.
A circuit was due to be built in Ho Chi Minh in 2010, but that was abandoned for legal reasons. The law changed last year with Vietnam opening its advantage of it.
However standards are far below Grade One Homologation, but a track which would meet them was reportedly under consideration in 2016. However, Liberty wants a balance between new venues and the historic races.
Liberty needs to renegotiate the contract with Silverstone after they triggered a break clause meaning next years race could be the last race.
Liberty wants to invest in its own home race in the United States. It would boost F1’s appeal in a market with a proven track record and could lead to the creation of races in “destination cities”
Moss retires from public life
Sir Stirling Moss has announced he has retired from public life to focus on his health and spend more time with his family.
In a statement on his website written by his son, Moss said “To all of his many friends and fans around the world, who use this website for regular updates, my father would like to announce that he will be closing it down. Following his severe infections at the end of 2016 and his subsequent slow and arduous recovery.”
“The decision has been made that, at the age of 88, the indefatigable man will finally retire, so that he and my mother can have some much deserved rest and spend more time with each other and the rest of the family.”
“The entire and extended Moss clan thank everyone for all their love and support over the years and we wish you all a happy and prosperous 2018.” The former Mercedes, Maserati and Vanwall driver won sixteen Grand Prix’s between 1951-61.
Moss is regarded as one of the greatest drivers never to have won a championship, and between 1955 and 1961 finished runner-up in the drivers’ championship four times and third on the other three occasions.
The British driver also won 1955 thousand-mile Mille Miglia road race in 1955, which is considered one of the best drives in motor racing history.
The Week Ahead
Next weekend, Fernando Alonso will be making his debut in endurance racing. Everyone will be keeping an eye on that, we know he wants to be the second man to claim the Triple Crown. As we have said he wants to go down in history as an all-rounder.
We have begun to get some of the build up to next weekend’s Daytona 24 Hours. We know this is getting slightly more coverage because of Alonso’s and not forgetting Lance Stroll too!
This week we heard reports about Vietnam becoming a race. Next week we believe Chase Carey will be in the capital Hanoi and/or Ho Chi Minh City for talks about a race. However, F1 faces a big question going forward, how many races can we have in a year? That could play into the re-negotiation of the Concorde Agreement.
We are beginning and now have a clearer timeline of car launches, which will get increasingly clearer I think next week as dates begin to emerge from Red Bull, Renault etc.