Sauber Honda deal collapse “very bad”
Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa has described the collapse of the deal with Sauber has as “very bad” for the Japanese manufacturer.
Following the replacement of Monisha Kaltenborn, new team principal Fred Vasseur pulled the team out of the deal and opted to stay with current suppliers Ferrari.
Honda wanted to work with a customer team in order to increase the amount of data they can gather on their much-maligned engines. Speaking to Fox Sport, Hasegawa said “Of course it is very disappointing. It is a customer team program so it doesn’t hurt our program very much.”
“But we still expected to get the opportunity to get our engine running more. We would have got more data and been able to make comparisons, so it is very disappointing. More than that, on the practical side, we had to stop the preparation, so it is very bad.”
Hasegawa says that while he wasn’t involved directly in the Sauber negotiations, he felt the talks were in good shape until the last minute. Saying “I wasn’t in the meetings, that was Yamamoto-san, Zander and I were in very good communication all the time. We both didn’t believe that we would have to stop this collaboration until the final moment.”
Honda talks with Toro Rosso have also collapsed, so McLaren could force Honda out of Formula One altogether should they decide to part ways ahead of the 2018 season.
Grosjean praises Haas for improvements
Romain Grosjean has praised Haas for the way it has performed during the first half of the season, where the team has matched their points tally from 2016.
Haas had an impressive debut season last year, where they finished eighth in the constructor’s championship. This season the team has made a step forward proving themselves to be more competitive and appear to be on course to finish seventh in the championship.
That is despite the teams continuing tyre and brake problems, the team’s progress has been clear with their first double points score in Monaco. Grosjean believes that the American team is capable of producing results on a more consistent basis.
The Frenchman told ESPN “We’ve achieved quite a lot compared to last year. Same amount of points, without the failure in Melbourne we would have six or eight more points so we are in a good place.”
“The team is growing up, we’ve shown that in the year two where everyone was expecting us to dive down, we have actually stepped up our game so very pleased with that.”
With just fifteen points covering fifth to eighth in the constructor’s championship, team principal Gunther Steiner says that he is finding it hard to predicted where the team will be in the second half of the season.
Steiner said “We are on target with our expectations. We wanted to fight in the midfield, sometimes we are ahead, sometimes we are a bit behind.”
“I think generally there are a lot more things we can improve and there is lot more room for improvement in the team which is great to know because we are not fully at 100 percent potential.”
Verstappen warning to Red Bull about his future
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says the team needs to up their game if he is not going to be tempted to join rival teams when his current contract ends.
The Dutchman has had a frustrating season, good results as slipped through his hands because of incident and reliability problems. But despite him falling short of expectations, team principal Christian Horner said Verstappen would not be lured away by the prospect of more competitive machinery at Ferrari and Mercedes.
Verstappen is under contract until the end of 2019, but says his long-term future beyond that depends entirely on how competitive its car is, as he made it clear its current form was not what he expected from the team.
Verstappen told Motorsport.com “I’ve always said that there’s no reason to leave when I have a competitive car. At the moment we are not there where I want to be, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up straight away. You have to work hard.”
“But after two, three years without improving, that would be a different story. We are working hard to improve but after next year we will see what happens in the future.”
Speaking about Spa and Monza, he says that because of Red Bull’s power deficit he thinks it will be hard to predict how his team will go at high-speed venues like Spa and Monza.
Saying “Every race weekend is a bit different and that surprises me to be honest. On tracks with not too many straights, we are reasonably close, around three tenths more or less.”
Renault still needs more staff to reach potential
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul says that the French manufacturer still needs to recruit more staff and to build bigger facilities if they are to reach their potential.
Since Renault reacquired Louts in 2016, the team has been working to rebuild the team following under-investment when it was in private hands between 2011-15. The previous owners Genii failed to invest in the team.
Last year, eighty new staff joined the team, but Abiteboul says there are still departments where it does not have the personnel and facilities to keep pace. Speaking to Autosport, he said “We have grown a lot in the engineering/technical area, and what needs to happen now is to have not a similar growth.”
“But growth that is compatible with the engineering potential – like the design office, in production, where we are almost too small and almost delaying what aero is capable of producing.
“That will happen also when we have completed the extension of the building, where we will have a larger design office because right now we have a limitation in space.” Abiteboul also confirmed that the team would be producing our own gearbox and composite for 2018.
Renault still sits eighth in the championship, but there has been progress, with more points this season, however, the team still are behind the target of fifth in the constructors. Abiteboul said “That will always take a little bit of time but what is good is that once this is starting, in theory, it is not going to stop.”
The team continues the recruitment drive, however Abiteboul said F1 would ultimately need to act to stop teams becoming too large again.
Driverless safety car?
The FIA says that Formula One could adopt a driverless safety car in the future as part of moves to promote autonomous technology.
The governing body is keen that drivers remain a key element of F1’s attraction, but have discussed how it could promote driverless cars through other elements of a Grand Prix weekend.
Head of the F1 technical department Marcin Budkowski, has suggested that a driverless safety car would be a good way of proving automotive advances without detracting from the show. He told Autosport “Let me give you an example, but it is not the only one: we have spoken about an unmanned safety car.”
“It would promote a technology about which there is a bit of scepticism and, instead, it could be shown that it works. The safety car driver would no longer be essential because it would leave the controls to the computer.”
However, Budkowski remains sceptical about the interest in driverless F1. He does believe that other series like Roborace do have a role to play in promoting autonomous developments.
eSports F1 series launch
Formula One has launched its first ever official eSports series which will be based on the 2017 F1 game which is due to be released on Friday. The F1 esports Series will be run as a partnership between Formula One, the developers Codemasters and eSports specialist Gfinity.
The 2017 season will begin next month in London, with a series of qualifying events and the semi-finals in October. With the top twenty drivers qualifying for the three race finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of November.
The winner will gain automatic qualification to the 2018 semi-finals, will be included as a character in the F1 2018 game and be named ‘Formula 1 eSports champion expert’. Formula One Managing Director of Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches told Autosport “This launch presents an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way, we engage fans.”
“First, it’s a growing category with tremendous fan engagement that we’re entering in a big way; and we are proud to have Codemasters and Gfinity joining us on this ride.
“We’ll continue to evolve and innovate in the way we run this virtual counterpart to the F1 championship to ensure we provide the most exciting and enjoyable experience we can for our fans.”
Codemasters CEO, Frank Saigner says that the eSports concept will take fan engagement to a new level. He said: eSports is one of the fastest-growing sectors of gaming already attracting audiences in the tens of millions.
“We are delighted to be announcing this incredible racing series with Formula 1 for our upcoming F1 2017 game.”
In January Formula E held a round in Las Vegas, titled the Las Vegas eRace which put some of its drivers against online gamers, while several others have officially backed virtual series based on their championships.