Renault says it gained a second in 2017
Renault says it has gained a second in lap time in 2017 compared to 2016 from developing an entirely new engine. The French manufacturer substantially overhauled its engine this season because it had reached the end of its development life.
However, the new power unit proved unreliable meaning they were unable to get the best out of the new lighter MGU-H. But it was able to produce enough performance in the latter part of the season to allow Red Bull to win on Merit in both Malaysia and Mexico.
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul says the new engine had exceeded the target of being three tenths a lap faster than in 2016 and adding the same amount of performance through the season. He told Motorsport.com “That was a goal we set for ourselves, but actually in the course of the season we unlocked different ways to manage the engine and to extract [extra] performance.”
“The engine itself, between the end of last season to the end of this season, has improved more or less close to one second – when we use it to the full potential, which is not something we would do permanently – which is simply huge.”
However, he said that it did have a impact on reliability which was a negative impact but they have achieved more than the expected.
Speaking about the works team, who failed with the “aggressive” target of fifth h in the constructors’ championship, Abiteboul said the team could feel “very proud” of developing a car that was fourth quickest at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Toro Rosso not resigned to penalties
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost says he is not resigned to a season which could be dominated by grid penalties, despite even tougher restrictions on power unit elements.
Next season, drivers will only be allowed three combustion engines, turbos, and MGU-Hs, and only two MGU-Ks, control electronics and energy stores. Honda has not managed to complete a season since they returned to the sport without incurring penalties.
But, Tost says he is only thinking about the positives from the new relationship. He told Motorsport.com “First of all we must see next year’s engine tested, and then we can think about possible penalties. But it’s far too early now.”
“The reason we requested to work together with Honda is that we are convinced that the company has a lot of potential, it’s a worldwide known car manufacturer with a fantastic motorsport history.” He added that the team was proud to be an exclusive partner.
Toro Rosso will also benefit financially from the deal with Honda, the team has ramped up R&D resources but Tost is warning that needs to be handled carefully.
“All this takes time, and of course if we need to do something urgently on the R&D side we will push for this within our resources. However, we are bringing in some new people, because we have to do it.”
Vettel will be calmer and control emotions
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne is expecting that Sebastian Vettel will be calmer next season and claims he has learned to control his “emotional side.”
It was a disappointing start to his career with Ferrari, this year Vettel managed to mount a title challenge to Hamilton. But that collapse following the summer break because Ferrari suffered a poor run of reliability.
The four times champion also suffered a collision with his title rival when they banged wheels aggressively fighting for the lead in Baku and crashed out in a tangle with Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen at the start in Singapore.
Marchionne believes Vettel, who was handed a new three-year contract in 2017, has learned from his mistakes. Telling Sky Sports “Sebastian Vettel is a guy who studies a lot, studies himself and is committed. Therefore, I think that we will see less of his emotional side. I think he has learned enough.”
“Plus, there were plenty of opportunities for him to get annoyed, as he’s had a couple of rather difficult seasons, this year and the previous one.” However, Marchionne also warned: “I think we gave them a great car in 2017 and so, from now on, it’s down to him.”
FIA tightens rules on superlicences
The FIA has made it harder to get superlicences for drivers to take part in practice sessions.
Previously, drivers need to complete one hundred and eighty-six miles in “representative Formula 1 car” over two days and answer questions on sporting regulations to qualify for a ‘free practice only’ superlicence, so long as the FIA adjudged them sufficiently capable based on their prior single-seater experience.
From next season, drivers will need to complete six F2 races or amassed 25 superlicence points during a three-year period.
The previously the drivers needed to have F1 mileage, knowledge of the rules, and FIA judgement that a driver “must have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars” remain in force, under article five of Appendix L in the FIA’s international sporting code.
The FIA has tightened the rules since Max Verstappen entered the sport aged seventeen in 2015.
Hamilton will not leave without warning – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that contract talks with Lewis Hamilton are going well and has confidence that he will not walk out on the team without warning.
This time last year Mercedes was looking for a replacement for Nico Rosberg after the German unexpectedly announced he was retiring after winning the title. That meant Mercedes had to negotiate Valtteri Bottas out of his Williams contract.
Hamilton’s Mercedes contract ends at the end of next season, with Wolff leaving Hamilton with a degree of flexibility because he is confident that the Brit will not leave the team unexpectedly. He told ESPN, “I think Lewis is a free spirit. Lewis doesn’t want to be put in a box with people saying, ‘You need to behave like this and do this to be a racing driver’”
“One of the key things for him is to be free and be able to decide what he wants to do. And in a certain way, keeping all the options open is something that takes pressure off of him.” Wolff admitted that Hamilton could leave in a few years time.
Asked about the negotiations, Wolff said “They have started already and we are on a good way. Let’s see when the white smoke comes out of the chimney.”
After losing out to Rosberg last year, Hamilton’s relationship became strained with Mercedes. A pre-Christmas chat in 2016 cleared the air. Speaking about the relationship, Wolff said “ We share the same objectives, we want to win as many races as possible and as many championships as possible, and this has bound us together.
“Some frustrations built up in the last year due to the rivalry between Nico and Lewis and … we acknowledged each other’s frustrations and that is an important step forward in any relationship, to understand where the other one is coming from.”
Perez calls on Force India to allow him to race Ocon
Sergio Perez says that Force India needs to allow him and his teammate Esteban Ocon to race each other next season because of the threat posed by McLaren and Renault.
The team introduced team orders following two collisions in Baku and Spa, when they both collided with each other. But, Perez says that they need to be able to race freely next year because they will be under more pressure next year.
He told Motorsport.com “We have got to understand how difficult it is going to be next year. We’ll have the Renaults and McLarens pushing us hard. So we need to push freely if we are to be in the fight.”
“We also need to have a car that is competitive from the beginning, to be in the fight from the start and be in the fight for the season.”
Perez said his relationship with Ocon had improved since they last collided at Spa and both know where they stand. Adding “We hit a very low point on our relationship in Belgium. Things have got a lot better since then. We’re working professionally.”
The Mexican says we know what we need to do for the team who will be facing a bigger threat from teams which have struggled.
He praised Ocon, saying “Esteban came to F1 really well prepared with his experience in the previous categories and relationships with F1 teams. So that was good for us.”
“Every driver’s personality is different. Certainly, Esteban is someone who can be quick. He understands what he needs and that is important. He’s been on it this year.”