Bottas keen to avoid “disturbing” contract talks
Valtteri Bottas says that he and Mercedes must avoid dragging out his contract renewal this season to avoid the process becoming “a bit disturbing” during the 2018 season.
The Finn is entering his second season alongside four times champion Lewis Hamilton, after impressing the team with three wins last season. His performance during last season earnt him a one year deal, and Bottas is hoping that he will not have to wait too long for answers this season.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Bottas said “For sure there will be a deadline to get to know what the future is going to hold. Whether it is going to be earlier or later this year we’ll see.”
“There’s no point to drag things too late because as a driver you have a lot of things to think about and to focus on, so contract talks can be a bit disturbing.” Bottas added that he and Mercedes would know when the time is right to sign.
However, he acknowledges the fact that if he performs early on there would be a chance of an earlier decision. Bottas says that he is feeling “zero pressure and a lot of support” from Mercedes heading into the new season.
Hamilton poised to sign £120m contract
The Sun newspaper is reporting that Lewis Hamilton will sign a new £120m two-year contract with an option for a third year. Hamilton would earn £40m a year with a weekly wage of just under three-quarters of a million pounds.
There have been reports that the team want to get the deal done ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix. But the four times champion has admitted he still asks himself at the start of every season whether he can still do it at the top level.
Asked by Motorsport.com, if he wanted “a couple” of years more with the team that has run him to three of the past four drivers’ titles, Hamilton replied: “I’m hoping so. At least, yeah.
“Every year you never know how you’re going to feel in two, three years’ time. It’s such a long year and a lot can happen in your life. Your opinions change.” Added Hamilton.
Speaking to The Sun, Hamilton added “I still love racing, I still love the challenge of every year getting myself in shape. But I always have this question of if I can still drive before I get to the first test — can I still do it? Do I still have it? I love that unknown.”
Channel 4’s analyst and former F1 driver David Coulthard believes the delay was normal because that what happens when sides want to work together.
He told the newspaper “The off-season is the best time to do that because in season you are busy trying to set up the car and deal with sponsors and partners, so that is just another thing to look at for the schedule.”
Sainz happy to take penalties to help Renault
Carlos Sainz says he is happy to take grid penalties when the team goes beyond three engine components, if it helps his Renault team to make progress in the long term.
Renault’s team principal Cyril Abiteboul has already hinted that the manufacturer was considering factoring in grid penalties by deliberately using more than this year’s reduced limit of three elements per season.
That strategy will allow Renault to gain more performance and consistency, because of reduced mileage requirements, and will create extra opportunities to introduce planned upgrades later in the season.
Speaking to Autosport, Sainz said “For me, this is a minor thing in the whole year. When there’s a rule that you can use only three engines for the whole season.”
“You are a team that is not worried about 2018, you are worried about being world champions in 2020, you need to make progress. And to make progress you need to put engines on the track and test them, and try to put the performance on them.” He added.
Sainz says it’s a reminder that 2018 is a development year and its about them bringing new ideas to test. The Spaniard acknowledged that the teams target is to be fighting for the championship in 2020, but closing up to a moving target would be difficult.
Red Bull believes Honda can equal Renault
Red Bull believes that Honda has the potential for their engine to equal Renault by the end of the season, which has fuelled speculation that the team could switch to the Japanese manufacturer for 2019.
Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso, have made an encouraging start to its relationship with Honda, after a trouble-free winter suggesting the manufacturers are on top of the issues that they had over the issues they have had over the past three years.
There have been suggestions that Honda is just fifteen break horsepower going into this season. Honda is hoping that development programme this season will see that gap close further.
Red Bull’s motorsport adviser Helmut Marko suggesting there will be little to choose between the two power units by the end of the season. Marko told Motorsport.com “The Honda package is technically interesting.”
“The engine is very light and now the reliability is there. They speak of continuous performance improvements. The engine should be at Renault level by the end of this year.” Red Bull’s contract with current supplier Renault expires at the end of the year.
Team Principal Christian Horner says the decision on the engine will not be made based on emotion but by pure performance. Saying, “The situation varies with Renault almost monthly. But we are used to that. We’ve known them a long time.”
“We have got a respect for what they do: and the most important thing for us is having the most competitive package going forward. We want to be in a position to continue to close the gap to the teams ahead and get onto the front foot.”
Horner says that for the first time in ten years that the team has had a choice about what engine supplier to choose going forward. Asked what Honda would have to do to convince Red Bull it was a viable solution for next year, Horner said, “I think they have made very good grounds over the winter.”
“We have got a front row seat to see how that product is developing that performing with Toro Rosso. And it will all come down to performance. We want the most performant engine in the back of the car.”
Pirelli using software to nominate tyres
Pirelli says it has developed new software to help it choose which tyre compounds to bring to races to encourage two stop races and give the teams more options when choosing their tyre allocations.
The simulations are being used to find the best combination of tyres for each race, which could mean skipping out one compound, for example nominating the soft, ultrasoft and hypersoft, rather than supersoft, ultrasoft and hypersoft.
Speaking to Autosport, F1 boss Mario Isola said: “We have now a very good tool, software that we created this winter, to make all the combinations with three different compounds.”
“And the software is returning the number of strategies in a certain interval of race time. We always pick up the three compounds that have the highest number of strategies.” He says that the minimum target was for two stop races, but they are choosing tyres that can give them the most strategies.
Isola suggested that every race, the software could be updated to give new simulations and decide selections for future races. This new system he said was “more representative output. The model is stronger, it’s more solid.”
The software could show if compounds are too close in terms of difference in lap times. Isola said in the Abu Dhabi was sixth-tenths between the soft and supersofts, with the supersofts and hypersofts being four tenths.