“Bitter” to sacrifice performance over reliability
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul says it was “bitter” for the manufacturer to sacrifice performance to ensure they had reliability during the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The French manufacturer has suffered a number of reliability failures in recent races, with the Toro Rosso’s of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley taking grid penalties for this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi. Following the issues in Brazil, decided to turn down the engines.
Speaking about Brazil, Abiteboul told Motorsport.com “We knew we were in a position where we had to sacrifice a bit of performance in order to increase the reliability.”
“It’s not a nice situation to be in. Everything was settled after the first lap. It was a bit of a savourless race for us and actually, it’s a bit bitter because we know there is much more potential.” The Frenchman says that they will decide in the next few days if they need to keep the engines turned down for the Abu Dhabi race.
However, that decision could be pivotal in the outcome of the championship as the team is only two points ahead of Haas and four points behind Toro Rosso.
Abiteboul added “”On one hand, we would like and could afford to be aggressive, because if you’re not aggressive at the last race, when are you going to be?”
“At the same time, we know Haas are very close in the championship so we need to take a balanced approach. That will be the focus of the next couple of days.”
No deal and no Williams driver confirmation
Williams has denied reports that they have completed a deal with Robert Kubica for the Pole to be the teammate of Lance Stroll next season and that there would be no announcement about the team’s driver line up at this weekends Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Polish driver has tested the teams 2014 car twice last month so the team could assess his suitability to replace Felipe Massa and is also set to drive in next weeks Pirelli tyre test. All this has increased the speculation that Kubica had secured the second Williams seat, the team has insisted nothing is decided.
Williams statement said “Although conversations are ongoing with Kubica, it is still yet to be finally decided who will replace Massa. We will make an announcement when we have something to announce but nothing is planned this weekend in Abu Dhabi.”
Kubica came on the radar of Williams after Renault decided to pick Carlos Sainz to race alongside Nico Hulkenberg next season. Nico Rosberg has taken on a management role with Kubica to support his efforts to get back on the grid after the 2011 rallying crash that left him with severe arm injuries.
While Kubica is the leading candidate, other names on the team’s radar are reserve driver Paul di Resta, Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, Sergey Sirotkin and former Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat.
Sirotkin joins Williams driver mix
Motorsport.com says it understands that Sergey Sirotkin is set to drive alongside Robert Kubica for Williams at next week’s post-season tyre test in Abu Dhabi.
The Russian who is Renault’s reserve driver is expected to get a day’s running in the car, with Kubica completing the other day. The British team is currently deciding who will replace Felipe Massa next season who is retiring from the sport.
It’s believed that next week’s test for Kubica is about answering the final question marks about his physical abilities to drive a Formula One car.
Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Williams reserve driver Paul di Resta are also in contention. But, what is unclear is whether Sirotkin is now on that list.
Williams will not make a decision on its final 2018 line-up until after this weekend’s season finale at Yas Marina. Sirotkin has taken part in four FP1 sessions for Renault this season as well as completing two last year and one for Sauber in 2014.
Hamilton promising “everything” for Abu Dhabi
World champion Lewis Hamilton is promising to “give it everything” to win this weekend’s season finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to finish the season where he won his fourth world title on a high.
After winning the title in Mexico, the Mercedes driver insisted that he wanted to finish the season on a high and would be pushing for wins in the final races. However, he was unable to fight at the front in Brazil after failing to qualify after a crash in Q1.
He started that race from the pit lane and made his way through the field to finish fourth.
Hamilton has expressed his determination to finish the season on a high, telling Sky Sports “I’m going to give it everything in Abu Dhabi. It’s cool and I’m excited for that. It’s obviously an unusual position to be in.”
When he arrived in Brazil a fortnight ago, he made it clear that he believed that he took his foot off the gas after his 2015 title win. Which he believes gave his then teammate Nico Rosberg the momentum to win last years title.
Hamilton has won in Abu Dhabi three times, with his Mercedes team winning the race for the last three years. However, his former title rival Sebastian Vettel has also won three times too with Red Bull.
While there may not have been the same pressure as in 2010, 2014 and last year this weekend, Hamilton says he is not longing for the off-season to begin. Adding “I generally don’t like to wish time to go by.”
“I’m on the back end of a career, even though it could still be relatively long, so it’s easy to wish days to go by and I’m happy for it to take its time.”
Boullier praises McLaren’s resolve
Eric Boullier has praised the resolve that his McLaren team has had this season despite the difficulties with the Honda power unit. The relationship finally broke down after another season that failed to deliver a competitive or reliable power unit.
Although progress has been made this season, it was too late to save the partnership with McLaren switching to Renault next season. Unless McLaren has a shocking result this weekend the team are set to finish ninth in the constructors.
Boullier believes that his team has performed well given the obstacles they have overcome. He told ESPN “I’m proud of the battles we’ve fought and the achievements we’ve made as team this year, despite the lack of results and their respective influence on the championship table.”
“Every member of our team has worked tirelessly to improve our package, race by race, and this weekend will be no exception, as we strive to make the most of every session before the close of the season for the winter shutdown.”
McLaren’s performance in recent months has seen the team finish in the top ten, which the team has put down to its chassis. With minor regulation changes with the exception of the Halo next season, Boullier is excited about what lies ahead.
“We use every single opportunity on track to evaluate and improve our package and learn valuable lessons for next year. With the relative stability in the regulations between 2017 and ’18.”
As for the ending partnership with Honda, he said: “I know I can speak for the whole team when I say that each and every one of us embarks on our final grand prix weekend as McLaren Honda in Abu Dhabi with both optimism and respect.”
Boullier added that everyone has worked incredibly hard and remained committed throughout. Adding “All of us will go into the weekend with exactly the same aim — to work hard and do everything we can to finish the season positively.”
‘Bad boy’ Magnussen a joke at Haas
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen says his reputation as Formula One’s ‘bad boy’ has become a joke within the team. Magnussen’s use of aggressive tactics this year has caused controversy throughout the season.
One exchange following his battle with Nico Hulkenberg has become famous, after telling the Renault driver to “suck his balls” after their clash in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Asked by Autosport, about the reputation he is developing, Magnussen replied: “I don’t mind. A lot of drivers have complained about me, but this has perhaps created a little bit of a joke in the team. I wouldn’t say I am the most popular driver among the drivers, but I don’t need to be.”
The Dane says that all that matters to him was the results and views of the stewards are what mattered. He pointed out he has had only a single any penalty this season for his driving.
Pushed on whether he had any driver friends in the paddock, he said “In the paddock yes. But amongst the drivers, I don’t have friends at all. They are not my friends. It would never work to have a friendship, so I don’t make any effort to make friends.”
Magnussen says that he feels fairly immune from criticism and that deliberately steering clear of social media helped this.