Red Bull can be favourites
Daniel Ricciardo says that Red Bull could be the favourites for next years world championships if the team can avoid another slow start to the season.
Red Bull was expected to be a major challenge to Mercedes this year as the sport moved towards more aerodynamic based regulations. However, wind tunnel correlation issues in the early part of the season ended the team’s chances of a title challenge.
Once the team had managed to get on top of the correlation issues their rate of development was impressive with Max Verstappen able to take two victories in the closing stages. The Australian told Autosport “We just started off on the wrong foot.”
“But the rate of development has been amazing, so I’m hoping if we can start on the right foot in 2018, you would argue we would be the favourites. If we started with Mercedes and Ferrari [levels of performance], our development is pretty strong” Ricciardo says that in testing the car look very basic.
He added that the team started the season with the chassis they had at the end Red Bull could have been in the title hunt.
Honda can be pleased by development rate
Outgoing Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa says that the Japanese manufacturer can be proud of its devolvement rate during the 2017 season.
Honda had changed its engine concept over the winter but did not have the time to prepare sufficiently for the season. Which lead to a series of reliability problems, as Honda tried an aggressive approach to performance at the expense of reliability.
Speaking to Autosport, Hasegawa said “Our performance improvement level is something to be proud of. Our competition level was lower than expected so we needed to update more often.”
“We needed to sacrifice time checking reliability to get the updates to the track. It was strategic. We are confident we can confirm the reliability, This is just a time issue. We prioritised the performance update over checking reliability.”
Hasegawa accepts that the reliability was “not acceptable” and that where they need to focus.
Magnussen hopes for more stable Haas
Kevin Magnussen hopes Haas is able to get the 2018 car more towards his liking after admitting it has been “difficult” during his first season with the team.
The Dame was outscored by his teammate Romain Grosjean by twenty-eight points and was out-qualified twelve times. While Magnussen has made it clear he is happier at Haas than he was at McLaren or Renault, but admitted the teams 2017 car didn’t suit his style.
Next season he will remain with Haas which will be the first time in his career that he has stayed with a team for a second season. Magnussen says that he wants the car more suited towards his driving style and to get better at coping when it’s not.
He told Autosport, “I’ve realised what I need, but trying to get that from the car has been difficult this year. It’s going to be interesting to start the season with a team where I know what it is I need, and work on it from the get go.”
“Hopefully we can improve it and make it more towards my style, but there’s no guarantee of that, so I’m simultaneously working on trying to deal with that.” Magnussen admitted that Grosjean was “A little better at dealing with a loose rear end,” explaining that it was the tendency of the car is to oversteer on corner entry, that had troubled him.
Magnussen says he hopes that he can tune the car more towards stability saying he doesn’t prefer oversteer, especially on entry of the corners and this year we’ve been struggling with that a bit too much.
Adding “It is a car that is a little bit tricky on entry, and attacking corners has been difficult, but Romain is just very, very good with a car like that. Oversteering on entry doesn’t really bother him and he handles it very well, and just nails it in qualifying like that.”
Massa ensured Williams got the most from car
Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says Felipe Massa was a consistently great reference point this season in ensuring the team got the most out of the car.
The Brazilian came out of retirement to replace Valtteri Bottas who joined Mercedes, replacing Nico Rosberg. Massa scored forty three points for the team and was in contention to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix before he suffered a technical problem.
Lowe says that Massa’s consistency throughout the season meant that Lance Stroll always had a strong benchmark to judge his performance against. Lowe told Motorsport.com “He was a great reference for it [performance of the car]. You always need a good reference somewhere in the garage.”
“Sometimes you don’t always find it on one side, you look for it on one or the other with two drivers. But Felipe has provided that reference at every race actually and that’s been really valuable.”
“There haven’t been days where he’s been lost, and not been able to give a reference for Lance and I think that’s also quite remarkable.” Massa was still under consideration for the seat next year, but decided to rule himself out after Williams could not commit to.
“The selection of the drivers is a very complicated process and there are lots of different factors we’re taking into account,” said Lowe.
McLaren deserves to be in the fight – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says that McLaren deserves to be in the fight for championships and says that he still has contact with the former boss Ron Dennis.
Hamilton made his debut with the team in 2007, before securing his first title with McLaren the following season. The team invested in much of Hamilton’s junior career and sealed his first title the following season, before leaving the team in 2012.
McLaren has failed to win a race since his departure and has struggled with an uncompetitive Honda power unit for the past three years. The teams current management has decided to switch to Renault power next season.
Hamilton told ESPN, “I have a natural place in my heart for them because I achieved a huge amount with them. I really, really hope that next year is a successful year for them and that we are battling with them [at the front].”
He says McLaren deserve to be fighting at the front because it’s a fantastic team with an incredible history which he is proud of, and is hoping that the team is fighting for championships.
Hamilton said he still monitors McLaren’s progress during race weekends and is keen to rekindle his on-track rivalry with former teammate Fernando Alonso.
“I had a great battle with Fernando earlier this year towards the end of the season [in Mexico] and I would love to have more battles with him on a much more level playing field. I think McLaren have had such a difficult time.”