F1 Today – 21/01/2022

F1 Today

Red Bull & Mercedes agree a deal on Hodgkinson

Red Bull and Mercedes have agreed a deal to allow Ben Hodgkinson, to join Red Bull’s powertrains later in the year. Following the withdrawal of Honda at the end of last year, Red Bull decided to create its own power unit division and announced several high-profile signings from Mercedes last year.

His appointment was announced in April, but it was unclear when he would be able to join because he was firmly contracted to Mercedes’ own power unit division. As the tension and rivalry became increasingly bitter throughout last season there appeared little chance of an agreement being made.

However, on Friday, both Mercedes and Red Bull announced that Hodgkinson would be able to start in May this year after they came to a mutual settlement.

A short joint statement said: “Mercedes F1 and Red Bull F1 today reached an agreement regarding the appointment of Ben Hodgkinson. Under the terms of that agreement, Ben, who joined Mercedes in August 2001, will be free to join Red Bull Powertrains from 24 May 2022.”

Hodgkinson had been head of mechanical engineering at Mercedes’ High-Performance Powertrains since 2017, having worked at the German manufacturer’s Brixworth headquarters for 20 years.

When his appointment was announced, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said, “We are delighted to welcome Ben to Red Bull Powertrains as technical director. He comes to this hugely exciting project as a proven race winner and as an innovator capable of leading a like-minded team of highly skilled engineers.”

While Hodgkinson is the most high profile signing, Red Bull signed five other personnel, Steve Blewett is to become Red Bull’s power unit production director. Omid Mostaghimi, who is Mercedes’ F1 electronics team leader, will be Red Bull’s head of powertrains, electronics and ERS.

Pip Clode, who is Mercedes’ F1 power unit concept team leader, is to become Red Bull’s head of mechanical design ERS. Anton Mayo, a Mercedes engineering team leader, will be head of power unit design ICE, while Steve Brodie, Mercedes’ F1 trackside and final inspection manager, will become Red Bull’s Group Leader ICE Operations.

 

Carter & Williams part company

Williams has parted company with engineering director Adam Carter as the management reshuffle continues under Jost Capito. Carter has been with Williams for five years and has been acting team principal twice following the sale to Dorilton Capital when both Simon Roberts and Capito tested positive for coronavirus over the last two years.

Williams has had several changes in its management since the take over by the Us investment firm, Capito joined as CEO that December, and then took over the team principal role when Roberts left in July 2021.

Having spent his first months in the company observing and deciding what was missing Capito hired two former VW Motorsport colleagues in key roles.

In a short statement about his departure, Capito said: “As we look ahead at our engineering strategy and requirements for the next year and beyond, we have made changes in our engineering structure. Adam Carter has left the team and I would like to thank him for his hard work and contribution over the last six years.”

Capito has brought in several people from VW, signing Francois-Xavier Demaison was named technical director in March 2021, and when Roberts left Demaison also became responsible for trackside and engineering. Also, Sven Smeets joined as technical director.

Carter joined Williams following the collapse of Manor, where he had worked first for Wirth Research as chief engineer and race programme manager, who designed the teams car.

He joined Williams as a senior engineer in 2016, he then quickly moved up the ladder becoming chief of engineer of vehicle programme and chief of staff in 2017, chief engineer and head of design in 2019, and engineering director in 2021.

 

Melbourne completes reconfiguration of the circuit

Organisers of the Australian Grand Prix have announced the redesign to the Albert Park circuit ahead of its return to the calendar in April. The race has been cancelled for the last two years due to the pandemic, the 2020 race was abandoned on the Friday after coronavirus cases were detected in the paddock while last year was cancelled because of border closures.

The cancellation of last years race allowed the organisers and the state government to reconfigure parts of the circuit in a bid to increase overtaking. One of the biggest changes is the removal of the Turn Nine/Ten chicane, which has been replaced with fast sweeping corners, while other corners have been widened to increase apex speed.

Paired with the new-spec cars it’s expected the layout will provide improved wheel-to-wheel racing. APGC CEO Andrew Westacott says they are expecting that with the new regulation lap times will be five seconds faster. The reconfiguration and resurfacing marks the first time since the circuit was rebuilt in the 1990s that the circuit has been completely resurfaced.

AGPC CEO Andrew Westcott told the media when asked what could be expected with the changes both to the circuit and regulations, he said, “Five seconds a lap quicker, but [with] the new-spec cars, closer racing. You can actually tail the car in front and expect to be able to overtake and be in a competitive position.

“The main location is Turn Eleven at the south end of the lake near Ross Gregory Drive and Ross Gregory Oval. We expect that to be a major overtaking opportunity. The widening of five other turns, particularly the increase of speed at Turn Six where they’re going to go from about 90 km/h to 150 km/h.”

He added, “Making sure the racing is going to be as exciting as possible is the reason why Formula 1 has changed the specification of the cars for this season. And it’s the reason why we’ve resurfaced the track for the first time in twenty-five years.”

 

Austin to be resurfaced to remove bumps

The Circuit of the Americas is undergoing further major resurfacing work as it attempts to finally address the bumps that have beset it in recent years. Bumps at the circuit have been an ongoing issue which led to complaints from both F1 drivers and Moto GP riders.

Ahead of last years Moto GP race world champion Fabio Quartararo, who branded the circuit a “joke”. Saying, “It’s more or less a track I use to train with a motocross bike, but much faster and with a MotoGP bike. So, it’s really bad. I can’t imagine it, we said three years ago they need to resurface and it’s even worse.”

“It’s just acceptable to race, I don’t know what to say. But it’s a joke. It’s not a MotoGP track for me. To make a race here, for one lap it’s OK, but for 20 laps, we will see that there will be some bad moments.”

In 2019, CEO of the circuit Bobby Epstein told Motorsport.com that heavy rains in 2015 had contributed to the issues. That year’s race weekend was disrupted by Hurricane Patricia causing qualifying to be postponed until Sunday morning.

Epstein said, “We excavated nine feet deep to put the track here, and brought in special soils. However clearly the flood of 2015 caused some very serious heaving, and we haven’t fixed those areas since then, and it’s just gotten wors0e.

“There’s been some washout around pipes. There are pipes under the track, and in 2015 the water followed those pipes, not just inside but around them. It caused erosion that left this void, and then you get some heaving and shrinking.”

The need to carry out repairs ten years after the circuit was built has led to questions about the quality of the original construction work and subsequent repairs. There have been several attempts at removing the bumps in recent years. Ahead of the 2020 season resurfacing was undertaken at Turn 1, Turn 9 and along the back straight.

Responding to those questions a statement said, “COTA hired consultants to review asphalt designs and diagnose the parts of the track in need of resurfacing. Ground penetration radar and laser mapping equipment and software was used to map the track and identify the different repairs needed.”

“From there, COTA worked to repave Turns 12 through 16 and build a concrete pad to reinforce the areas at Turn 2 and 10. Additionally, COTA worked with contractors to ensure the new asphalt and concrete foundations were even and flush, creating an ideal track for upcoming races and events.”

 

Mazepin says he needs to improve

Nikita Mazepin says he needs to improve the way he interacts with Haas as he and the team look to make a step forwards this season. The Russian had a difficult debut season often being overshadowed by Mick Schumacher as well as frustrating moments, as they both struggled with an uncompetitive car.

However, with him determined to improve in his in second season, Mazepin believes that working harder on his relationship with more team members could help pay dividends. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Mazepin said, “There’s some key areas that you need to be doing.

He added, “It is your motivation, because we’re human beings, and we obviously lack motivation at times like everybody else. We sometimes wake up in a bad mood, and we have no energy like other people, but we still have to go out there and perform. I would say, this was very good.”

“Second is teamwork. And learning how to act properly in the team. I think that is something that I need to improve because I feel very comfortable working with three, four, or five people.” Mazepin says sometimes he lacks spending the right amount of time with people.

He says that working with an F1 team requires a different approach because they are bigger, explaining that you need to unite everyone on different continents. Mazepin believes that it is important to find a sweet spot with maintaining motivation levels, and dealing with the team in the right way.

Adding “how do you put that into a very good car balance. How do you put that in to playing with the luck on your side, when you’re racing and… because of the car being very difficult to drive and requires extra good balance or extra work to find that good balance, that’s also something I need to improve on.”

 

Alfa Romeo underestimated downsides of not developing

Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur says the team underestimated the downside of the early abandoning of development on its 2021 car. The Italian manufacturer was one of the first to stop developing last years car, to focus its resources on this year’s regulation changes.

While they hope that the work for this season will pay off, Vasseur has confessed that there were some negatives from not progressing with its 2021 car that he had not expected. Vasseur says the work for this season will pay off, confessing that there were some negatives from not progressing with its 2021 car that he had not expected.

He told Motorsport.com, “We took very early the direction for 2022, at the end of ’20, and perhaps I underestimated the fact that we had twenty-two races to do with the same car. On the psychological side, it’s not an easy one.”

“When you have updates coming in or into the pipeline, you always have a kind of, not motivation, because the motivation is there, but hope that we will bring updates. And that was not the case.”

Last season the team finished ninth, after Williams delivered a strong season, but Vasseur is confident that the team did make progress. He pointed out that the team on average were faster in qualifying and finished fourteen times ahead of Williams in the race.

Alfa Romeo lost out to Williams in crazy weekends in Budapest and Spa, which Vasseur admitted they missed good opportunities. He suggested that they failed to capitalise on strong qualifying’s, in Budapest they were involved in the shunt at the first corner and it was frustrating.

Despite some frustrations about what happened in 2021, though, Vasseur thinks the true answer about whether or not Alfa Romeo did the right thing will only become clear once the new season starts.

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.