Honda says no ‘works team’ for Red Bull
Honda says that Red Bull will not receive ‘works team’ status over their sister team Toro Rosso, but is admitting it does feel “huge pressure and responsibility” supplying engines to one of the sports biggest teams.
On Tuesday, the Austrian team and the Japanese` manufacturer announced a two-year deal to supply both Red Bull and Toro Rosso. However, despite the clear hierarchy between the two teams owned by the drinks company Honda insists that both teams will be treated equally from an engine supply perspective.
Speaking to ESPN, Honda’s motorsport manager, Masashi Yamamoto said “We’ll supply the same specification PU to both Red Bull and Toro Rosso. From a manufacturer’s point of view, it doesn’t make sense to identify either team as either works or customer as current regulations oblige us to supply the same power unit to all our teams.”
He says that the contracts between Honda and both Red Bull-owned teams puts all three parts in an equal position, and he would not be going any further than what has already been said.
Honda returned to F1 with McLaren in 2015, but after three seasons when they struggled with performance and reliability under F1’s new turbo hybrid regulations, McLaren decided to ditch Honda. Now with the Red Bull deal, Yamamoto says they feel the pressure and are targeting a seamless start to the relationship.
“However, it is Honda’s nature to always aspire to a very high target, and I think that’s what makes Honda Honda. As a starting point, we do not want to see Red Bull Racing’s performance drop below its current level.”
The deal also allows the teams to once again share components which they had to reduced this season as they both are with different engine suppliers. Yamamoto says that he hopes that it will make it easier to share components and technology between the two teams within the regulations. Yamamoto is hoping that will make the situation more straightforward when it comes to providing equal treatment.
Adding “There won’t be a change in the current relationship between Honda and Toro Rosso. But we expect mutual transaction between the teams and Honda within the regulations so that we need to make sure we maximise that advantage in order to get good synergy together.”
Renault says ability to close gap important for future
Renault believes its ability to catch Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull is an important test for the future of Formula One which it believes is split into “two worlds” at the moment. Since the French Manufacturer returned as a works team in 2016, they have become the fourth best team on the grid.
However, the team remains behind the top four. Both Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were lapped in Montreal, while Renault has less than half the points tally of third-placed Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul said that his team was “topping the second world, but we want to be part of the first world”.
He told Motorsport.com “I think the success or not of Renault will say a lot about the health of the sport. If a car marker like Renault, who in my opinion has the right people and right infrastructure, is not capable of moving from the second world to the first world, it says a lot.”
“If we can’t do it, no one will be able to do it. So, we are freezing the positions as they are. I don’t think it’s healthy to have a sport where there is no capacity to change the positions and to have any new entrants coming, and so on and so forth.” Added the Frenchman.
Abiteboul says that looking at the team needs to look at its progress and whats limiting it but there was the clear sign that things needed to change. Adding that Renault faces the “extremely challenging” task of out developing F1’s biggest teams.
There are hopes that the broad changes for 2021 will create closer gaps between the top teams and the midfield. He added, “I hope the new leadership of F1 is going to look at this issue very quickly and very strongly, because it’s not positive, it’s not a sport that we must have.”
Williams technical boss Paddy Lowe also acknowledged the current two-tier system.
However, he did admit that “we can do a lot better than we have done with the material and the resources that we have available, so it’s not in any sense an explanation for our current lack of performance”. added: “I think if you look at the sport overall there clearly is a problem.
Haas needs a change of fortune
Haas’s team principal Gunther Steiner believes that his team needs a change of fortune, after saying that the teams’ rivals cannot believe how unlucky they have been.
Despite the American team showing promise in winter testing, Haas has failed to convert its strong winter form into results. That means the team is only eighth in the constructors’ championship after errors have cost the team points. The errors include pit stop problems and a number of bizarre incidents like Romain Grosjean hitting a groundhog in Canada practice and suffering an engine problem leaving the pits in qualifying.
Steiner is clear that his team cannot rely only on luck changing for its results to improve, but he thinks that things going his outfit’s way would not be unwelcome.
He explained to Motorsport.com “You never stop and say ‘we need a break’ and wait until you get lucky. We always try to do our best and come up with our best we can do.”
“We showed in Canada where Kevin was struggling on Friday but still managed to quality 11th. And what happened with Romain in the end, we have not a lot of influence on that.”
“We don’t want to find excuses with that. It is one of the circumstances. In FP3 you have an issue like this, what can you do? We are very honest with ourselves.” Asked if he believed the teams’ luck would change, he said that was a bit presumptuous.
Although Haas has failed to score points in the last two races, Steiner says there was no concern about the cars overall performance.
McLaren confidence with senior management
McLaren’s senior management is confident that the team has the right people in place to allow the team to turn around its season. Despite the switch to Renault power the British team hasn’t made the step forward, they would have expected.
While McLaren is in a much healthier position than they were at this point last year, they have failed to close the gap to the top three. In April the team parted with one of its senior engineers Tim Goss, saying it was responsibilities at the team. At the time McLaren said it was undergoing a “proactive, ongoing” review of its entire operation in a bid to return to winning ways.
Asked by ESPN, if he was confident recent changes can help the team improve in 2018 and into 2019, racing director Eric Boullier said: “Well first of all, it’s not down to one designer. We have 100 percent confidence in the group of people we have at McLaren.”
“We can blame obviously some issues on the car. Definitely, I think the car this year is not the car we were expecting to have. It’s just a matter of understanding why and making sure we have the right vision and leadership for the future to conduct and make sure we can design and manufacturer competitive cars.”
Boullier says he believes that the team has the right people in place now.
There have been suggestions that McLaren could stop developing its current car early, however, the Frenchman believes that it wouldn’t be sensible. Saying “it’s worth to develop it for a couple of reasons. The first one is to understand what’s wrong and to not repeat any kind of platform mistakes in the future.”
“I think there’s still time to develop this car, potentially curing the low-speed lack of grip which has a big impact on top performance.” He also says it was important that the team doesn’t make mistakes with its current car.
Paul Ricard to have three DRS zones
The Paul Ricard Circuit which will host this weekend’s French Grand Prix, will feature two DRS zones.
Although the circuit’s long straights offer plenty of options to place DRS zones, the FIA has elected to feature one on the start/finish straight and a second on the first part of the long Mistral Straight.
The Mistral Straight zone will have a detection point before turn seven, the left-hander onto the Mistral Straight – and the zone itself has an activation point 170m after the corner.
The detection point for the second zone is at Turn 14, the penultimate corner, and the zone’s activation point is 115m after Turn 15.
Further analysis of the zones and their length is likely to be carried out by the FIA when cars are running in France, and changes could be made if the governing body feels the DRS zones do not work well enough or are too effective.