Racing Point pushing on with upgrades
Racing Point says it is pushing ahead with plans to upgrade to a 2020 Mercedes gearbox and associated suspension parts next season, despite opposition from rivals.
As part of the package of measures to help the sport through the Coronavirus pandemic, it was agreed that a token system was introduced to allow teams to make selected upgrades on weak areas of their packages next year. This comes after the planned regulation changes were pushed back until 2022.
The rules specified that teams currently using 2019 components sourced from their respective partners will be allowed to switch to the 2020 equivalents without using their two tokens. That will allow Racing Point to upgrade to the complete rear end of the Mercedes W11 next year, and Alpha Tauri to do the same with the Red Bull RB16.
Ferrari’s partners Alfa Romeo and Haas already use the 2020 gearbox and other parts, that means they will not be able to benefit from the rule.
Once the season started and the potential of the Racing Point RP20 became clear, rivals realised that the team will potentially make a further step once the W11 elements are added to the car in 2021, and still use two tokens for other areas of the car.
Speaking to Motorsport.com in July, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said, “I think we are not fully happy that there are teams that eventually can upgrade their entire package from a 2019 to a 2020 package.”
“That I believe would be unfair, because the season with two tokens is similar for everybody. We’ve got only two tokens, and everybody should be limited to that.”
The subject was raised with the FIA, but no changes have resulted. Racing Point technical director Andy Green believes that the opposition has now fizzled out. Green added, “The rules allow us to do it. We’re going ahead and doing it, we’ve cleared it with the FIA, and they have no problem with us doing it.”
“The rules as written allow the teams to bring their cars up to the 2020 specification, which I think is only fair. Just because we elected to run 2019 suspension before COVID started shouldn’t be held against us. We should be allowed to bring our car up to the same specifications everyone else has got.”
Red Bull considering a takeover of Honda F1
Red Bull is considering taking over Honda’s Formula One engine project when the manufacturer quits the sport at the end of 2021. The Japanese manufacturer announced earlier in the month it will leave the sport next year leaving Red Bull and junior team Alpha Tauri without an engine supplier.
Mercedes has already ruled out supplying Red Bull, leaving a return to former partner Renault looking like its most realistic option of F1’s three remaining suppliers. One option could be Red Bull taking over the current Honda F1 operation, however, motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said this would require a tweak to the existing regulations.
Marko told German broadcaster Sport1, “It’s a very complex subject, just as complex as these engines are. We would favour, provided the talks with Honda are positive, that we take over the IP rights and everything that is necessary, to then prepare and deploy the engines ourselves in Milton Keynes.”
“But this is only possible on condition that the engines are frozen by the first race in 2022 at the latest. We cannot afford further development, neither technically nor financially. That is a prerequisite.”
Marko says this approach would allow Red Bull to continue developing its car around its current engine. All manufacturers develop their car chassis around the engine, that means teams like Red Bull if they were to change manufacturers would need to adapt the chassis to suit the engine.
He added, “we would get something where we would have to adapt our chassis and our ideas secondary, and we would be confronted with a technical solution that we would have to accept. That’s why the Honda solution is [our favourite]. Nevertheless, we are exploring all possibilities
Don’t put down Hamilton’s success
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff believes drivers critiquing Lewis Hamilton’s success in Formula One by putting it down to the dominance of Mercedes should question themselves.
Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of ninety-one Grand Prix victories and will be looking to surpass the record at the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend as he looks to equal the German’s seven world titles.
It has led to an increased debate about Hamilton’s standing among F1’s greatest drivers, with three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart recently saying it was “hard to justify” if Hamilton compared to the likes of Jim Clark and Juan Manuel Fangio.
However, Wolff believes that it was wrong to argue that Hamilton’s high win percentage of 34.87% to be used against him in the argument about his place among racing’s greats. The Englishman has won seventy of his ninety-one wins since 2014 when the turbo-hybrid regulations were introduced.
But Hamilton is the only driver in the history of the sport to have scored at least one victory in every season he has competed in over the last fourteen years.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Wolff said, “I read that, and in my opinion, that’s not quite fair. Winning races and winning championships is always in this sport a team exercise, but you need to put yourself in a position that you end up in the best car.”
“You can see lots of talented and skilled drivers took wrong decisions, or not well-advised decisions. In that respect, it was him who joined Mercedes in 2013, and it is him that sits in the car and is able to execute on track with a tool that we provide to him.”
Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren in 2012 to join Mercedes, who at the time had only won one race, was seen as a big gamble which has paid off with five world titles and he is on the brink of a seventh overall.
Asked by Motorsport.com what he would tell the version of himself in 2013 who was joining Mercedes, Hamilton said: “Keep doing what you’re doing. Hindsight is always a great thing, and I’m sure all of you can look back and say how you would maybe do something different.”
“For me, honestly, I wouldn’t do anything different. The mistakes that I’ve done have really helped me be where I am. If you skip one of those moments, maybe I won’t be where I am, or maybe I’ll be further ahead or maybe I’ll be more behind.
Any record can be broken, dream can come true
Lewis Hamilton’s brother Nic, says the achievements of his older brother Lewis are proof that any dream can be achieved and any record broken.
Speaking ESPN F1 Podcast, talking about his own racing career in the British Touring Car Championship as well as his involvement in eSports through the V10 R-League. Nic says that Lewis equalling Michael Schumacher’s ninety-one wins.
Hamilton said, “I’ve been Lewis’ number one fan since day one. Lewis has millions and millions of fans around the world who say they’re his number one fan, but I would definitely say no-one is a bigger fan than myself. I’m so proud of him.”
“To see him develop into an incredible human, from someone from Stevenage not really having a dream or anything, to now being such an amazing athlete and figurehead for the world generally and to be classed this year as one of the most inspirational people of 2020 in the world, it’s incredible.”
Nic described himself as Lewis’s biggest fan, saying just one win in F1 is an achievement. When they started racing ‘I wanna be the next Michael Schumacher’, now it’s ‘I wanna be the next Lewis Hamilton’. Hamilton grew up in a working-class household in Stevenage.
Nic has cerebral palsy, which is the most common childhood motor disability globally and one that affects roughly one in 400 children in the U.K., however, has forged a career as a racing driver and this year became the first disabled driver in BTCC to score points.
Saying “Motorsport is a really tough industry and there are a lot of people in the world who think because of who my brother is and all the money he has and how successful he is, that that is the reason why I am where I am today.”
He says that his career isn’t bankrolled by his older brother and he wouldn’t accept Lewis’s money and raises his own sponsorship. Nic described himself as “a marketing director, a CEO and a racing driver all in one.”
Russell warns about track limits at Portimao
George Russell believes that Formula One should have chosen the slower hairpin loop layout at Portimao’s Turn One for this weekends Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve has two possible layouts with Grade One status, F1 will be using the simple fast right-hander option rather than a tight right/left/right complex that resembles the start of the lap at Bahrain.
Russell says the latter should be used because when he tested at the circuit in Formula Three, indicated that drivers were abusing track limits by running wide on the faster version of the first corner.
Despite his concerns, Russell, who tested a two-year-old Mercedes at Portimao alongside current teammate Nicholas Latifi in April 2017, is looking forward to the event.
The Englishman told Motorsport.com, “I’m really excited. It’s a spectacular circuit, very undulating, a lot of blind corners, which is great, and adds a lot of character.”
“Obviously I need to wait and see once I’ve driven it in a current car, and how it will all pan out. We may have some track limit issues, which I hope can be rectified before we even get there, at Turn One.”
He says when he raced there in 2015 track limits were abused and that lead to the circuit adopting a sort of a hairpin loop, which was very nice. Which Russell says would be better because for racing it would be better having a slower speed corner at the end of a long straight.
He added, “I’m excited to go there and intrigued for the challenge that we face and the teams face.”
FIA race director Michael Masi admitted that he is anticipating abuse of track limits to be an issue, and not just at the first corner.
He said, “Regarding track limits, Turn One won’t be the only location that we’ve got a possibility there. However, we’ve put some elements in place to try and manage those as best we can for the event.”
Eyes will be on the race directors race notes when they are published on Thursday.
Vietnam race formally cancelled
This year’s Vietnam Grand Prix has been formally cancelled because of Coronavirus. The race in the capital Hanoi was due to take place on 03 – 05 April, but was postponed following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix.
A statement from the Vietnam Grand Prix Corp said “This has been an extremely difficult but necessary decision to reach in view of the continued uncertainty caused by the global coronavirus pandemic,” said in an emailed statement, adding that it would refund all tickets sold.
Vietnam has recorded over 1,110 Coronavirus infections, with 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
The start of the Formula One season was pushed back to July from March due to the pandemic, with extensive changes made to the 2020 calendar. Hanoi will have to wait to host Vietnam’s first Formula One Grand Prix. Vietnam Grand Prix
The total number of races was cut to seventeen from the record twenty-two originally planned, with Vietnam becoming the latest race from the original calendar to be axed this year.
There had been hope that the race along with the Chinese Grand Prix could have been rescheduled to November, however, like all street circuits, there are logistical challenges of building a street circuit at sort notice. It will be expected that Hanoi will debut in April 2021.
Leaked calendar shows Melbourne postponed
A leaked 2021 calendar has shown that next years Australian Grand Prix has been postponed until October and the addition of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
According to Spanish website Soymotors, the season will begin in Bahrain on the weekend of the 12 – 14 March, followed by the debut race in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on 26 – 28 March. Zandvoort returns to the calendar on the weekend of the 30 April – 02 May.
Bahrain last held the season opener in 2010, it has held the opening race twice before. The last time it was due to do so was in 2011, however, the race was postponed and later cancelled because of the Arab Spring protests.
The only change to the European leg is the swapping of the French and Austrian Grands Prix, as well as the Russian and Singapore Grands Prix.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is currently not under contract for 2021, and has been replaced by the Saudi Grand Prix on 26 – 28 November. This is not the official calendar, but one pieced together using promoters’ websites.
Drivers welcome return of gravel traps
Formula One drivers have welcomed the announcing that gravel traps will be re-introduced at Spa-Francorchamps at key corners. Last week, organisers of the Belgian Grand Prix confirmed they will be putting gravel at La Source, Raidillon, Blanchimont, Les Combes and Stavelot.
The changes are primarily being made to allow the circuit to hold motorbike racing, as well as new grandstands. Ahead of this year’s race, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz indicated that the circuit had gone too far in that direction.
Sainz told Motorsport.com, “I feel like the only thing Spa is missing now is the gravel and the grass next to the exit kerbs. Now we have a bit too much as far as the feel of risk, and the paying of risk/reward is not good enough in these modern circuits.”
Recent races at Mugello and the Nürburgring has put a further focus on the drivers’ preference gravel traps. Sainz believes that gravel is what is needed to make circuits “nice and spectacular again.”
George Russell believes that drivers should be punished for making mistakes, adding “It’s having that thrill, being on the limit, knowing if you make a mistake, you will be punished. And unfortunately, there’s too many circuits, obviously for safety reasons, that don’t give you that element while driving.”
Following Mugello, FIA race director Michael Masi said he was happy to see gravel traps introduced if they are deemed suitable for the corner in question.
Saying, “I’ve said before, corner by corner, circuit by circuit, and if it works in a particular circumstance, absolutely. If it doesn’t work, then we need to look at the whole picture of how it works, and the FIA, working together with FIM, from that perspective. There’s a number of inputs.”