Alfa Romeo unveils car
Alfa Romeo has launched there 2021 the C41 on Monday in the Polish national theatre in Warsaw. The start of the event saw dancers dressed in red and white perform a ballet routine, before introducing team principal Fred Vasseur and technical director Jan Monchaux.
Vasseur said there was no target, but he wanted the team to return to the midfield, last year the team lost out after engine supplier Ferrari lost performance from the technical directives over the winter. Despite the postponement of the regulation changes he was hopeful of making a step forward.
Adding “The launch of a new car is always an emotional moment, the culmination of months of effort from everyone back at the factory and the start of a new adventure.”
Vasseur says that all the teams have high expectations and soon they would be able to show their cards. Alfa has used two of its development tokens to develop a new ‘nose’ and front suspension to find more performance.
He told the press conference, “I think the philosophy upon which the team is based remains the same – we have to do a better job tomorrow than we are doing today.”
“We finished last season in P8, so we have to target a better result in 2021. To do so, we have to keep improving in each department, trackside and back at HQ.
Raikkonen said, “Hopefully we are better off than we were last year. We’ll do our best whenever we’ll end up to be.”
The team has spent these on a new nose design, a structural part of the car that also has an aerodynamic influence. The front suspension and front wing, the aerodynamic shapers around the middle of the car and the floor at the rear had been the biggest changes, according to technical director Jan Monchaucx.
The hope is that these changes can recover some of the downforce which have been lost by regulation tweaks.
Last year the team slipped to the lower end of the grid mainly fighting with Haas and Williams, it didn’t finish a race higher than ninth.
Looking ahead to testing all three drivers admitted that the three days of testing was going to add pressure to the work which needs to be done in Bahrain. All cars have had a ten per cent cut in downforce in a bid to improve overtaking.
The car livery looks the same with dark red and white, before introducing its unchanged driver line up of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen as well as test and reserve driver Robert Kubica.
Ferrari can recover “large parts”
Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur believes that Ferrari can recover “large parts” of its power deficit. Ferrari and its customers were hit by a huge drop in engine performance last year because of technical directives but has been trying to recover lost ground.
Speaking at the teams launch in Warsaw on Monday, Vasseur had expressed some optimism about the progress that Ferrari had made following recent discussions he had had with the team. However, he had doubts that the power unit could overhaul Mercedes.
Vasseur said, “The collaboration with Ferrari is, I think, going very well. We had a strong meeting, a long meeting over the winter to cover the points of last year, when perhaps we didn’t do the perfect job. We are on a good path.”
“I think that on their side, they will recover probably a large part of the issue that we had last year, and collaboration is getting better and better. We won’t be taking some of their car, perhaps one or two elements, but not much more. But I think it’s not the key point of the collaboration.”
Vasseur says a key part of the collaboration is to learn from each other and to do this they need to play with the regulations allowing them to do the best they can.
Craft dies aged eighty-one
Chris Craft who started one Grand Prix and one of Britain’s leading racing drivers in the 1970s has died following a long illness aged eighty-one. The Cornish driver won the 1973 European SportsCar Championship and the 1976 24 Hours of Le Mans.
His only race start in F1 was at Watkins Glenn after failing to qualify at Mosport for the Canadian Grand Prix in 1971. He progressed through Formula 3, before racing Ford Escorts for the renowned Broadspeed team in the British Saloon Car Championship in the late 1960s.
In 1969, he finished second in both the British Sports Car and British Saloon Car Championships. During the 1970s he raced in several series, including his first of fourteen Le Mans, taking wins in sportscars at Misano and Imola.
He also raced in Formula 5000 for the VDS team. One of his best results came in 1976 when he co-drove de Cadenet’s Lola T380 to third place at Le Mans. They finished fifth the following year. Craft then went onto win the British Saloon Car Championship.
His final race was at Le Mans in 1984 when he shared a Porsche 956 with de Cadenet and Australian touring car ace Allan Grice. The car retired from the race with engine trouble and, aged 44, Craft called time on his professional racing career.
Following his retirement, he teamed up with Gordon Murray to form the Light Car Company to build the Rocket tandem two-seat sportscar.
In more recent years, Craft was a regular visitor to historic race meetings through his friendship with Grahame White, then CEO of the Historic Sports Car Club.
Melbourne open to permanent switch to November
Organisers of the Australian Grands Prix in Melbourne say they are looking at a permanent swap between F1 and Moto GP. This year F1 race has been postponed to November because of the pandemic, meaning they will be held within a month.
Traditionally the two races are held at opposite ends of the year, with Albert Park opening the F1 season in March and Phillip Island hosting MotoGP in October. The rearranged F1 race is now scheduled for 19 – 21 November, a month after Moto GP
CEO of the AGPC Andrew Westacott, that’s opened the door for a major re-think in terms of timing for both events. He says there are now four options when it comes to scheduling for 2022 and beyond, one of which is effectively a straight swap between the F1 and MotoGP events.
The original switch between the two races happened in 1996 when the F1 race moved to Melbourne.
The idea of having the six-month gap is important for both event management and ticket sales, and address the regular calls from riders to shift Phillip Island to an autumn date in search of better weather.
Westacott told Motorsport.com, “I can’t emphasise highly enough that there is nothing definitive about the calendars in 2022. We always enjoy the opening race position with Formula One. It suits us and it’s a major pillar of Melbourne’s major events calendar.”
“What I’ve also said is that a change of the nature we have now, with a November [F1] event, gives us the opportunity to look at four very distinct scenarios.
“I’ve got a very open mind about all of those four scenarios, and the pros and cons and opportunities they present to the sport. And the value those events deliver for Melbourne.”
Both of this year’s races remain in doubt as the countries borders remain closed to international travel. Anybody entering the country is still subject to fourteen days of hotel quarantine, a practice that is unlikely to be dropped until vaccines are at a significant level of worldwide circulation.
Australia’s own vaccine programme started today (Monday) and is expected to be completed by October.
Melbourne held its first international event was held this month, the Australian Open tennis tournament, this month, but competitors first had to undergo the full two-week quarantine.
Westacott says learnings from the tennis, as well as progress on the vaccine front, has left him confident the F1 paddock will make it to Melbourne in November.
He believes that learning from the tennis, as well as the vaccine programme is “going to stand us in better stead to stage the event in November.”
Ricciardo “at limit” of cockpit design
Daniel Ricciardo says his wide hips make him on the limit for the width of current cockpits but says he is all good with this year’s McLaren.
Throughout his career, the Australian has not had the easiest experience of squeezing into cars, with McLaren as a first mock-up seat proved to be slightly too narrow and adjustments had to be made. But his final seat fit proved to be OK, his wide hips have always caused headaches for teams.
Asked by Motorsport.com, about the progress since the tricky first seat fit, Ricciardo said, “I do have wide hips – I guess. I’m pretty thick boned. But I got in, so it was kind of the first mock up of the seat.”
“With the dimensions that they had, they kind of assumed what would be okay for me. But it wasn’t quite okay. Fortunately, it was just the seat and it wasn’t the actual keel itself that is too narrow. Since then I have been able to get in a seat and I do fit.”
Ricciardo says that McLaren have pushed the boundaries in slimming down the cockpit, his hips mean that there is not much more room for designers to play with. However, he believes any disadvantage that would bring would be outweighed by having an easer car to drive.
He added, “I feel like I’m certainly the limit. I think the way they design the cars and the chassis now, everything’s trying to be as tight and compact as possible. Really my hips are sometimes the limiting factor.”
Albon determined to return to F1
Alex Albon says he is determined to return to the grid after being demoted by Red Bull to reserve driver after the team signed Sergio Perez. Last season the British-Thai driver scored under half the points of Verstappen and qualified on average about 0.5 seconds slower.
The team chose Perez for his decade’s experience and following one of his best last year with Racing Point because they felt he would be a stronger back-up for Verstappen. However, Albon remains a important part of the team, as well as a potential candidate for a race seat in 2022.
Albon told BBC News, “My goal is to be back in a seat and be ready – you never know what will happen with Covid. I am confident in myself. I know I can bounce back and that is my target. We just have to see how things work out.”
Albon admitted that the decision was “disappointing”, but added: “Very quickly it was one of those things where there is no point feeling sorry for yourself. You have to get back into it and do as much as you can to get back.
He says this isn’t the first time he has been drooped and want to return to the grid. Albon is also the reserve driver for Red Bull and sister team Alpha Tauri, meaning he will attend every race this season in addition to simulator work.
He will also race a Red Bull-branded Ferrari in the DTM German touring car championship. Adding “There is no actual driving (in F1) unless something happens. I have the DTM gig, which I will do to the best of my ability.”
Albon struggled more than Verstappen last season to get to grips with the handling of the car, which prevented them from challenging Mercedes. Red Bull are hoping to resolve the balance issues and improve performance sufficiently for Verstappen to mount a challenge to Lewis Hamilton in 2021.
Albon said, “This year (it’s about) trying to address some difficulties with last year’s car, and then into this year, simulator support, being there for all four drivers, including Alpha Tauri. If there is any situation when I’m needed, I am there for the team.”