Ferrari risks doors of “chaos”
Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says Ferrari risks opening the doors up to “chaos” if they shake up the team in response to the team’s recent technical problems that have left its hopes of their first driver’s championship in a decade in tatters.
In the last three races has been a disaster for Ferrari, which has left Sebastian Vettel fifty-nine points behind Lewis Hamilton, thanks to reliability problems in Malaysia and Japan, as well as the double retirement in Singapore, because of the first lap collision.
Those recent problems have prompted Ferrari to reinforce their quality control department, including appointing Maria Mendoza, an expert in metals and chemicals, to help lift its efforts in that area. Szafnauer who has experience in this area says that the thing Ferrari must do is commit to the systems and people it has in place right now.
When asked by Motorsport.com about how he would react in Ferrari’s situation, said Szafnauer “The thing that you have got to do is go through the procedures that you have and just follow them. If that happens here [at Force India], and we had an issue and didn’t finish, you put it on the fault list, you reveal what happened.”
“Then, the engineer responsible will tell you what the root cause was, how we are going to fix it and how we are going to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Then you focus on reliability for example.” Szafnauer says what you cannot do is change the process, but you must take a step backwards.
He suggested that for a big team like Ferrari, having faith in your system is even more important because it is all too easy for the structure to fall apart.
Alonso agrees to contract extension
Fernando Alonso will remain with McLaren next season after signing a contract extension. Although the Spaniard was widely expected to remain with the team for 2018 the speculation about his future has continued throughout the season because of the underperforming Honda power unit.
However, McLaren has spilt with Honda and what has been seen as a move to retain Alonso they will switch to Renault next season. Alonso said, “It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with everybody at McLaren.”
“It was always where my heart was telling me to stay, and I really feel at home here. This is a fantastic team, full of incredible people, with a warmth and friendliness that I’ve never experienced elsewhere in Formula 1. I’m incredibly happy to be racing here.
“Although the last few years have not been easy, we have never forgotten how to win, and I believe we can achieve that again soon. The last three years have given us the momentum to plan and build for the future, and I’m looking forward to that journey.” He says that he is exited for the teams future together.
Alonso returned to McLaren from Ferrari in 2015 for his second stint with the team. Next season he will partner Stoffel Vandoorne.
Team boss Zak Brown said “I’m delighted to be able to confirm that Fernando will remain at McLaren. He has been a fantastic asset to the whole organisation for the past three years.
“Is an incredible individual and is one of the most accomplished and talented racing drivers of the modern era. It always made sense for us to continue our journey together.”
Honda believes restructuring behind progress
Honda believes that the restructuring and recruitment drive over last winter and during this season has lead to improvements in the reliability of the engine.
Since Honda returned to the sport in 2015, the power units they have made have been plagued by poor performance and reliability issues. The Japanese manufacturer changed its concept over the winter, however that has led to more problems although the situation has improved in the second half of the season.
Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa says the company’s decision to shake up it’s staffing in its development department is starting to show dividends. he told Motorsport.co “The reliability is much better,”. “That is coming from the decision to modify our organisation at the beginning of the season.”
“We had many issues, so we added more engineers, we replaced some engineers and we modified the structure of the development area.” Hasegawa says that improvement is natural as they have been working on these improvements for months.
He added that there was another slight reshuffle in April / May when they brought engineers in from mass production and that took time.
Hartley says Marko called him
Brendon Hartley says he called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko as soon as Porsche confirmed that they were ending its World Endurance Championship LMP1 programme.
Hartley will make his Formula One debut replacing Carlos Sainz after it was announced he would move to Renault for the rest of the season. While Pierre Gasly, replaced Daniil Kvyat, has decided to fight for the Super Formula title at Suzuka.
Red Bull has backed the New Zealander in the early part of his career, which has included a Formula Renault Eurocup title and third place in the 2008 British F3 season, but it dropped him during 2010. He finally switched to the WEC and won the 2015 championship alongside Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard.
Hartley told Motorsport.com “First I did a simulator test and I didn’t ask too many questions,” he said. “They said ‘come along’ and I said ‘OK’. I didn’t really know there was a chance to be on the grid for Austin. It has come about very quickly. I didn’t know too long before the media did, let’s say that.”
Asked if he had given up on ever getting to F1 as he became established in sportscars, Hartley replied: “When I spoke to people I said it was unrealistic, but the dream was always there. Did I believe it was really going to happen? Three or four years ago, no.”
“Was I really convinced that I had a chance this year? The dream was there, but honestly at 27 when the age of the drivers is starting to get lower and lower, I wasn’t sure.”
Hartley says that he is returning to Toro Rosso as “a much stronger and more rounded driver now” than when it dropped him.
Renault “months” ahead with reliability
Renault says they are “months” ahead in their reliability preparations for next season compared to this time last year. While the French manufacturer has made good gains with performance, they have struggled with reliability issues.
Red Bull has bared the brunt of this issue as well as Max Verstappen, who has lost points because of theses reliability issues. Next year all manufacturers are facing a challenge with the new limit of three engines per season for 2018.
Renault has indicated that it is in far better shape with reliability now than it was last winter. Speaking to Autosport, managing director Cyril Abiteboul said “We do have some parts that are capable of covering thousands of kilometres, in fact, tens of thousands of kilometres – like the energy store or the MGU-K.”
“But there are some specific parts that are giving us headaches, and for which reliability has been a concern this year. We know it is going to be a concern again next year, so it is still a bit early to confirm.” Abiteboul says that they are months ahead in the development compared to last season.
He added to meet the stricter regime Renault will be imposing stricter targets on reliability.
That’s all from F1 Today this week and we will be bringing you full coverage of the United States Grand Prix this weekend, with commentary of every session @F1VaultLive on Twitter. F1 Today returns next week. Preview here