Honda future depends on results
Honda believes that it cannot do much more to secure the future of its F1 programme after next season, as they wait for a decision from the board on whether to continue beyond next season.
The Japanese manufacturer took its first win since 2006 with Max Verstappen in Austria and again in Germany, as well as allowing the Dutchman to take his first pole in Hungary. The strong performances have allowed Red Bull to be the most consistent challenger to Mercedes.
This comes at a time when Honda is deciding whether to continue in F1 after the end of next season, and its win in Austria was following a key meeting.
Honda’s F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto told Motorsport.com that in terms of the significance of the place and timing for Honda’s first win since returning to F1 in 2015, “maybe the only place it can equal is Suzuka”.
He says what they have achieved this season is in “in accordance with my plan, what I had hoped. There is not much we could do more than this. What we’ve kept saying is we wanted to exceed last year’s Red Bull result.”
Three more wins and nine podiums in the second half of the season would see it better his 2018 results, however, the team is set to beat its points tally despite a performance disparity between the team’s 2019 drivers. Verstappen has seventy-six more points than he had at this point last year.
Yamamoto moved into the F1 MD role this year after Honda decided to give the sport independence from the rest of its motorsport division and to give the project dedicated focus as Honda prepared for a major opportunity with Red Bull.
He says, “I think it’s going to encourage us for continuation. Honda and generally in society [in Japan] are in a very good mood that Honda has won. I think it’s going to be very good for us.”
Red Bull made tough call on Gasly – Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo says seeing Pierre Gasly “a long way off” Max Verstappen at Red Bull made it a tough call at his former team. He says that his former team felt they could have picked up more points this year.
In an interview in Budapest and published this week, Ricciardo reflected on Gasly’s performances at Red Bull having seen the French driver come in when he left for Renault over the winter. He says that it has been a surprise to see the extent of the gap in pace between the two drivers.
Verstappen has scored a hundred and eight three points, with two wins and three other podiums. While Gasly has only managed sixty-three and has failed to reach the podium. Speaking about Gasly to Crash.net, Ricciardo said, “Tough one with him because the reality is he is a long way off Max. So on one side, they [Red Bull] are happy with Max and the first pole for him [in Hungary].”
“But on the other hand, I think deep down they know that they could be scoring a lot more points. I don’t know what it is at the moment with Pierre because last year he got some big results with Toro Rosso, which was clearly not as good a car as the Red Bull. So a tough one.”
He says that while he wasn’t expecting Gasly to beat Verstappen, he has been surprised by how big the gap is.
The team has made the decision to swap Gasly with Alex Albon for the remainder of the season, this is an attempt to decide who will partner Verstappen next season.
Ferrari not happy with 2021 regulations
Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto says that the manufacturer is “not happy yet” with the proposed 2021 regulations and is pushing back against standardisation.
The FIA and Liberty Media has put an increased emphasis on standardisation in F1’s 2021 rule revamp. This includes various parts which are believed not to be performance-related. The deadline for an agreement is the 31st October, which means further standardising could take place.
Before the summer break, Binotto told Motorsport.com, Ferrari was sceptical about the proposed direction of the 2021 car design rules, and in particular, did not see a point to the standardisation.
“I am not happy yet. I am not happy as Ferrari yet. I think since the very beginning we always said that we are against the standardisation, and I feel we are going too much in the direction of standardisation.”
“We believe that, first, the DNA of this sport is competition, and standardising somehow is against the spirit.”
“Second, because, whatever you’re doing standard doesn’t mean that you are saving money, because you need to re-engineer your car, your components, towards the new component, and that has an impact as well on the economical [side]”
Binotto says that standard parts would not save money because of the impending introduction of the budget cap. His comments on a budget cap, however, appeared to be a uturn from the hard-line no cap the team took ten years ago at the high of the FIA-FOTA dispute.
“I think the budget cap we are all in favour, we have all subscribed already, and I think the financial regulation is a key point of the future as well, because it’s stopping expenses, it’s closing the gap between the small and the big teams”
He says however standard parts are not the solution because teams will spend everything up to the cap, saying that the risk is that you forget the final objective.
Technical team key to McLaren resurgent
McLaren’s performance director Andreas Stella and engineering director Pat Fry has been credited with leading the team to its current success during its “interim period.”
The resignation of racing director Eric Boullier last July, a torrid F1 campaign with the MCL33 kickstarted a restructuring of the Woking-based outfit. CEO Zak Brown appointed Stella as performance director and brought Fry back to the team.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Andreas Seidl and James Key said Stella and Fry’s guidance has played a big part in McLaren’s much-improved showing in 2019 so far.
Asked about the design process improvements reflected in the MCL34’s strong early form, Seidl said “What is important to mention is that Andrea together with Pat played a key role in making these changes happen. One thing is to understand what are the issues and then the second thing is that you need people that lead that.”
“It was clear with the changes that Zak initiated last year, putting Andrea and Pat in charge in this interim period and in charge of the car, making sure the right convictions get transferred in this year’s car, that [the 2019 car] was the result.”
But he says it a team effort, and hat Seidl and Fry’s leadership could be given full credit.
McLaren is a clear fourth in the constructors and has twenty more points than it had picked up all throughout last year. But it is understood that Fry to be on gardening leave, with Williams regarded as a potential future destination.
Seidl had been given free rein by Brown to shape McLaren’s management team and says he now has the organisation that is in line with his plans.
Coulthard doesn’t get W Series critics
W Series advisor and Channel 4 commentator David Coulthard says he “doesn’t get” the continued criticism of the woman’s only championship.
Coulthard is the Chairman of W Series’ advisory board – was referencing the continued criticism that W Series has faced from other high-profile female racing drivers due to the series segregating women from male competition in motorsport.
Speaking earlier this month, Coulthard urged W Series critics to work together “collectively” for a common goal.
While the championship is formally FIA-ratified, the W Series is not affiliated with the FIA Women in Motorsport commission or Susie Wolff’s FIA-backed Girls on Track and Dare to be Different initiatives. However, from next year will be considered as part of the global pathway to F1.
Coulthard told Autosport, “The reaction that we have received from [FIA president] Jean Todt at the FIA and Dave Richards at the MSA and Gerhard [Berger] at ITR has been incredibly positive. In all of our meetings, Jean [Todt] has been supportive of anything that is supporting women in motorsport.”
“What is surprising for me is that some other, let’s say notable, women in motorsport who have still not been very supportive of us. I simply don’t get it, we are all trying to achieve the same thing.”
“There are initiatives out there to support the grassroots and that’s great, but we’d be denying this generation who are ready now [for] their chance – and to me, that doesn’t feel right.” The Scott said that they all want the same thing and said that they needed to work together.
The inaugural W Series title was won by Jamie Chadwick, who signed for the Williams as development driver after the opening rounds of the season at Hockenheim and Zolder.
W Series invited the teams’ deputy team principal Claire Williams to Hockenheim, where she said following the race her initial fears about the series had now been allayed.
“Claire came to Hockenheim because we were presenting what we were doing and as a senior member of the motorsport community, we wanted Claire there and we wanted her support,” said Coulthard.