McLaren surprised by reliability
Eric Boullier says his McLaren team was surprised by the by the reliability of the Honda power unit on the last day of testing, following the struggles during the first day of testing and during the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Frenchman described Wednesday’s test as the team’s most successful day of 2017 so far, with Stoffel Vandoorne compiling 81 laps. That was a remarkable turnaround following the MGH-U problems during the race weekend.
Boullier does not understand the reasons behind Honda’s sudden turnaround. When asked on Wednesday if Vandoorne’s successful day hinted that the Bahrain weekend would be an anomaly for Honda, Boullier replied: “No, because it’s very difficult to understand what’s going on.
“We obviously changed the MGU-H four times and [Tuesday] morning, two laps, MGU-H gone, changed the engine, did 17 laps.”
“[Wednesday] we had a small alert but we couldn’t find anything wrong physically on the car and then since then we’ve run faultlessly, without any problems.” He added he thinks it is going to be complicated for Honda to Understand, and it could be a batch problem.
He was then asked if the heat was a factor, and said: “It is a little bit less hot today, by the way. Maybe these five or six degrees are good enough, but I don’t know. It’s a bit strange.”
Renault recovered better than expected
Force India’s Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley says Renault has recovered from a poor 2016 season better than he expected.
The French manufacturer returned to the sport last season but struggled on its return to the sport finishing ninth in the constructors. But in the opening races of the season, Renault have been in the tight midfield pack.
Renault scored points for the first time Bahrain with Nico Hulkenberg in ninth, having narrowly missed out in Australia and China.
When asked by Motorsport.com if he was surprised by Renault’s upturn in form, Fernley said “Yes, I am. Renault have done a fantastic job over the winter, much better than I thought they would do, but we had identified that as a key issue.”
He says before testing he thought it would be a four car midfield battle between themselves, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Renault. Speaking about this battle, he said “it looks quite exciting. You’ve got two teams fighting at the front and four that are going to be battling for fourth place.”
Without independent supply could risk losing Red Bull
Red Bull advisor Helmut Mark has warned that the sport must come up with an independent engine solution post-2020, or they could risk losing Red Bull from the grid.
Last month the FIA and the engine manufacturers agreed that the current turbocharged V6 hybrid power units should be replaced by cheaper, simpler and noisier engines from 2021.
But in an interview with F1.com, Marko warned Liberty Media they must ensure there is a non-manufacturer engine option within that rules package to keep Red Bull in the championship – and that F1 has to get that plan in place this year.
The drinks firm’s two F1 teams, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, are both current customers of Renault. He told F1.com “The latest must be 2021 that an independent engine supplier comes into F1.”
“This is more than necessary, and the engine has to be simple, noisy and on the cost side below 10 million. We are talking about a much less sophisticated engine than what we have now, a simple racing engine. There are enough companies around that could supply.”
Marko says he expects the FIA and Liberty to find a solution by the end of this season and warned If that doesn’t happen there future is not secure.
Red Bull are currently committed to the sport unit 2020, but they are not a works team as their relationship with Renault reached breaking point because of poor performance and reliability.
But failed to reach a deal for an alternative supplier from 2016, so remand with Renault and agreeing to a customer deal under which the engines would be badged TAG Heuers.
I can’t take much credit for Ferrari – Allison
Mercedes technical boss James Allison says he cannot take much credit for the strength of Ferrari’s 2017 car. Allison left the Italian team half way through last season.
Many expected that his departure from the Italian team would have had a damaging effect on the team during a crucial point in the development of 2017’s car, but it has gone on to win two of the first three races of this year and leads both the drivers’ and constructors championship.
Ferrari’s chairman Sergio Marchionne has predicted the team will be “at the forefront” of the title race all season. Allison feels it would be unfair to take away credit from the people who worked on the car after his departure.
“I left Ferrari many months ago and joined Mercedes just some small number of weeks ago and anything that Ferrari has done for this year’s car is a credit to the people that work at Ferrari over these months and what they have delivered,”
F1 backs Monger appeal
An appeal launched to help fund the treatment of Formula Four driver Billy Monger has raised more than double its target. The seventeen-year-old has lost both his lower legs after being involved in an accident during a race at Donington Park last Sunday.
He was woken up from his induced coma at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham on Thursday and has since gone back into surgery. The appeal has already reached half a million after receiving backing from Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer.
Steven Hunter, the team principal for the JHR Developments team Monger was driving for, told Sky News: “He’s come out of his coma today and opened his eyes.
“We’ve had a thumbs-up and he’s given a little bit of a fist pump to his mechanic Jamie. So today has been a really good day for what is obviously a horrific incident.”
The target of £260,000 has already reached over half a million pounds. Hunter says that they can do more saying now they “can make sure he’s got some good prosthetics to be able to learn to walk on again.”
Button donated £15,000 saying “This guy needs our help so if you can please donate, I will be doing as much as I can to help this dude out.”