Palmer still has Renault support
Renault has re-affirmed their commitment in helping Jolyon Palmer to bounce back from his tough start to the season. His team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has scored most of the teams points this season, after ninth, eighth and sixth in the last three races.
Palmer, on the other hand, has failed to score points and retired from the last three races. The Englishman, described practice last Friday as his best of the season, but he failed to explain why his pace evaporated over the next two days and was over a minute behind Hulkenberg in the race.
Autosport asked Renault technical director Cyril Abiteboul if there was any explanation for Palmer’s struggles he said “No. I think during the weekend he had on occasion glimpses of a good performing package overall – a combination of the car, the set-up, the balance and himself driving.”
“But I think it’s in general on Saturday, that’s the issue, we put the car on Tarmac, it immediately works and some of the times you put it on the Tarmac and it doesn’t work and you have not changed a lot.”
Abiteboul says Palmer wasn’t happy from FP3 and the issues didn’t improve from then on. He added that Palmer will bounce back, as he did last season when he was much stronger in the second part of the year.
Button is fully committed
McLaren has rejected the claims that Jenson Button isn’t fully committed to his one-off drive at next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. Button will stand in for Fernando Alonso as he competes at the Indianapolis 500.
Button turned down the chance to test the 2017 car in Bahrain last month and has concentrated on running Monaco in the simulator instead. Recently friend and Channel 4 pundit Mark Webber suggested that Button was ‘not very interested’ in the race.
But McLaren Technology Group chief operating officer Jonathan Neale denied Button’s return was half-hearted. He told Autosport “I’ve read that and I’ve seen that, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. Jenson is certainly putting time in behind the scenes to prepare well for it.”
“He’s done multiple sessions in the simulator, just doing the one track, and also just familiarising himself with the car, the tyres, the power unit, the balance, and the braking performance,” added Neale
“I think he’s got his head in for this race, without a shadow of a doubt.” Neale brushed Webber’s comments as good natured banter between good friends. Button has won the race once in 2009.
Neal says “It’s Monaco, anything could happen, but you nudge the odds in your favour by being well-prepared and putting world champions in the car.”
He added that Button has worked incredibly hard and sacrificed a lot over the years.
Somerville joins research group
Williams former head of aerodynamics Jason Somerville is to join Ross Brawn as part of a research group to look at the future of the sport’s technical regulations.
Somerville will be “part of a small group of engineers dedicated to researching fully the direction and implications of future regulations,” Formula One said in a statement on Friday. This new department will be tasked with improving the entertainment value, the sustainability and the sport of Formula One.”
Nigel Kerr, a key player in the Brawn GP management buy-out from Honda and sale to Mercedes in 2009, joins as finance director for motorsports.
Another of Brawn’s former colleagues, Craig Wilson, arrives as head of vehicle performance. Speaking in Barcelona last weekend Brawn said he had “probably two-thirds of what I want now.”
He recognises the fact that he has become the poacher. Brawn’s aim is to create close but sustainable racing. Most of Brawn’s success came from exploiting the regulations.
Brawn says “So it’s just going to be a constant process and we are building the teams now within FOM (Formula One Management) in order to …understand what needs to be done to keep the sport as closely competitive as possible.”
Brawn who was appointed in January, has repeatedly said there is no quick fix to improving racing. He says these steps need to be well thought out and researched.
No Monaco disadvantage for Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas believes that Mercedes will not have the disadvantage at the Monaco Grand Prix because of their longer wheelbase car.
The German team has opted for a different concept to Ferrari, as they believe that a longer wheelbase is an advantage over the course of a season. The longer wheelbase could make Monaco more difficult for Mercedes, because of the tight and twisty corners like Monaco.
However, despite things being so close between Mercedes and Ferrari that small details count more than before, Bottas has faith that his team can still be strong challengers around the streets of Monte Carlo.
Bottas’s confidence comes from the strong show showing in the final sector in Barcelona, sets the team up well for Monaco. History suggests that as well.
Asked by Motorsport.com if the team was braced for a tougher time in Monaco because of its long wheelbase, Bottas said: “No, I think here we have shown strong performance in the last sector [in Spain]. That is all about slow speed corners and corner sequences.”
“Which is all about Monaco, so I think we have all the chances to be very strong there. We expect again being close to Ferrari, and potentially the grid will be tighter with less straight lines so maybe Red Bull can be strong as well.”
Final sector times from Barcelona, suggest that Mercedes has just over a quarter of a second advantage over Ferrari. With their qualifying pace showing they have little to fear.
Speaking about his hopes for the weekend in Monaco where he has struggled in the past, he says “I haven’t had the car yet to be fighting for top three places like now. So I think anything is possible.”
“It’s a track with high importance for qualifying and race with no mistakes, so definitely I will again as always take whatever points.”
Toro Rosso has lots of work to understand upgrades
Technical Director of Toro Rosso James Key, says the team needs to do a lot of work to get the upgrades they introduced for Barcelona to work as expected.
It was a difficult weekend for the team with limited running in Practice, then Daniil Kvyat was slowest of all in qualifying. Carlos Sainz Jr was happier and made it to twelfth, which he converted to seventh in the race.
Kvyat came through from nineteenth on the grid after Stoffel Vandoorne’s penalty to ninth place with a bold strategy involving just one lap at the start on medium tyres.
Key told Autosport he believes there is much more to come once the team masters the upgrades fully. He said, “There are a lot of changes on the car, and we had to work on it more than we thought to get the right balance windows.”
“There are a few things which needed to be tweaked to work properly, a few things which perhaps weren’t working in the way we thought, so we had to back-track,” Key says that there was a bit more work they need to do to understand the upgrades.
Haas introduces new livery
Haas has unveiled a new look ahead of next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. The team has introduced a grey car replacing almost all of the red portions of the car with grey.
The angular accent mark at the rear of the engine cover remains in red, as does the team and Haas Automation logos. Team Principal Gunther Steiner suggested that the changes had come about following the requirements for greater visibility of the numbers
From the last race, new rules were introduced, meaning that the cars numbers of a driver’s three letter abbreviation be placed on the side of the car.
Steiner said “It is for the whole year now. With the change in the size of the numbers and its positioning, we looked into making the entire car a little more visible.”