No excuses if not fighting Mercedes
Red Bull’s advisor Helmut Marko says that a ‘good increase’ of power from Honda means the pressure is on the team to deliver a strong chassis from the start of the season if it wants to fight for the championship.
The British-Austrian team enjoyed an encouraging first season with Honda, and the success has led to them changing the targets third year going for the title. But Marko warned that the team cannot afford to be playing catch up in performance or points terms if it does not hit the ground running from the first race.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, “We want to fight for the championship and to do so we know that we have to be competitive with the chassis right from the start – and that means the very first race.”
Red Bull had a slow start to 2019, with it taking a number of races to unlock the performance of the car. Once the full potential was realised Max Verstappen was able to score three victories over the remainder of the campaign.
Marko famously set a target of five wins last year and for 2020 he says sights are set on doing even better than that. Saying “Honda has good increases for this year, and since everything has been fulfilled so far, we assume that this will happen.
Zandvoort holding back data
Organisers of the Dutch Grand Prix are purposely holding some track data from F1 teams in order to try to stop them being too prepared for the Dutch Grand Prix.
Teams normally carry out a huge amount of computer and simulation work to hone in on the best possible set up. However, in an attempt to make the race more unpredictable, Zandvoort architect Dromo is limiting the amount of information made available to teams to only essential data.
Speaking to Autosport, Dromo chief Jarno Zaffelli, Zandvoort sporting director Jan Lammers said: “Of course Jarno has a lot of detailed data from Dromo’s own simulations. But all modern F1 teams work scientifically, so if he gives all the data to them they will enter it into their simulator programmes in no time.”
“That is exactly what we don’t want to happen. So what he gives them is very limited. We want drivers to go out on the track during Friday practice to find the best possible set-up. So that is a bit of old school racing and makes the weekend probably a bit unpredictable.”
As well as hoping that the lack of information making the weekend more difficult for teams, Lammers hopes it will spice things up for drivers too. The aim of the architect is to stop the teams being so prepared and so that they are forced to do more on-track learning.
Lammers said he hoped the situation will mean fans see more of the cars on Friday, as teams will be forced to do more learning on-track. Adding “Normally Formula 1 teams are a bit cautious during Friday practices, to save tyres for the rest of the weekend.”
Ferrari launch in Reggio Emilia
Ferrari will launch their 2020 car which they hope will end over a decades wait for a title on Tuesday 11th February in the Teatro Valli. The theatre in the northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia, where the country’s national flag, the Tricolour, was first born in the 18th century.
As the country’s effective national team, Ferrari will be carrying the hopes and expectations of Italy once again in 2020 as they bid for a first world title in 12 years. It will be streamed online as well at 17:30GMT, the car is being built twenty miles at their Maranello base.
Ferrari has deliberately opted for an early slot in F1’s developing ‘launch week’ so they can continue working on the car before heading to Spain for the first week of testing eight days later.
The 2010s was the first decade in the history of the sport that Ferrari claimed neither the drivers’ nor constructors’ title, with Red Bull and Mercedes splitting all 20 crowns between them.
But Ferrari chief executive Louis Camilleri insisted before Christmas that the Maranello outfit does have the personnel and infrastructure in place to succeed.
Miami makes further changes
Organisers of the Miami Grand Prix have made further changes in response to objections to the race from locals. F1 was forced to abandon the original location for the race, which was in the downtown area and over a bridge. But the latest attempt to secure a deal for a race around the Miami Dolphins’ NFL stadium has also hit snags.
The changes come before a crucial meeting of Miami-Dade county commissioners on Wednesday. At that meeting, they will decide whether to change the stadium’s zoning rights and withdraw its rights to hold motor racing, which would have the effect of preventing the grand prix from taking place.
F1 has been consulting residents and various stakeholders in Miami as it seeks to persuade locals to back the grand prix. The consultation has lead to no track a ction before 15:00 local time on the Friday of the race weekend, to avoid disrupting local schools.
F1 said in a statement it had “provided substantial scientific evidence proving there are no credible health threats to local residents caused by the racing.”
Adding, “However, a primary concern voiced by residents related to the use of a stretch of Northwest 199th Street for a portion of the racetrack and the disruption it would cause to local traffic on 199th Street.”
The announcement is the latest twist in the plan to add what outgoing commercial boss Sean Bratches calls a “destination city” in America.
F1 to help Australian Bushfires relief
Formula One has launched an auction of valuable memorabilia and experiences to raise money to help those affected by the Australian bushfires.
The country is experiencing its worst bushfire season ever, it has already claimed the lives of thirty people and one billion animals have been killed, primarily in the south-east. F1 said it “felt the need to help those affected in the worst-hit areas”.
An online auction starts on 22 January with proceeds going to four organisations helping support victims.
All non-profit organisations or charities, the four are: Red Cross Australia, County Fire Authority Victoria, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal and the WWF Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund. The auction takes place at f1authentics.com.
Daniel Ricciardo had already announced he would auction of his race suit from the opening race in Melbourne, the new prizes include the helmet to be worn by Haas driver Kevin Magnussen at the Australian Grand Prix.
Donors can buy the chance to meet a number of top drivers, including Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
They can also buy a meeting with any of three team bosses: Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto and Williams’ Claire Williams. Dinner with F1 sporting and technical managing director Ross Brawn is available too.
Lewis Hamilton has already donated £380,000 to help with relief efforts.
However, the sport is likely to face criticism in the weeks ahead in relation to the environment. The climate crisis has had a direct effect on the severity of the bushfires – last year was the hottest since records began and there has been a prolonged drought.
The sport set out its plans to go carbon neutral by 2030 last year, and hopes a carbon-neutral fuel will be introduced in 2025. Also the sport announced it has become signatories of the United Nations’ Sports for Climate Action Framework.
Ocon bringing “another dynamic” to Renault
Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul says that Esteban Ocon will bring “another dynamic” to the team. The Frenchman is replacing Nico Hulkenberg this year, after spending last season on the sidelines as a Mercedes simulator driver.
Ocon began his career as a Renault driver and made his debut with Force India in 2018, but lost his seat after a takeover by Lawrence Stroll who brought his son in from Williams. Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “It’s another dynamic.”
“He will push us in a different way, a new energy, a new aggressivity, in my opinion, a fully positive one, coming also with a different set of experiences, having worked with Mercedes.”
“So it’s good, but at the end of the day we can do lots of things with drivers, but what needs to be better is obviously the racing car.”
Abiteboul says that Ocon’s arrival is different to Daniel Ricciardo, as he is not coming from a race winning team, and that the Frenchman will have upward momentum and achieve better results than he did at his previous team.
He described Ocon as in “the construction phase”, hoping that the car is better than the Force India he drove in 2018. Abiteboul says the team has a more positive dynamic, but added it wasn’t that Daniel was negative.