Honda changes way it evaluates development
Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa says the manufacturer has changed they evaluate the development of their engine. It has been a very frustrating first half of their third season since returning to the sport, with poor reliability and a lack of power threatening its future with McLaren.
Last month, Honda relieved that they have been struggling with the correlation between the dyno and the track but now says it has changed its approach with less reliance on dyno results to prove a specification.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Hasegawa says that the manufacturer was changing the way the developed the dyno because they weren’t seeing too much.
“We can check factors or elements or many concepts with the mono-cylinder [block] but we now understand we need to check with the V6 to finalise our specification.”
“So we are no longer relying too much on the mono-cylinder results. As a reference, the mono cylinder test is important but to find the performance, we need to check the V6 result.” The MGU-H has been a huge problem for Honda this season, but they feel they are finally on top of the issues.
Hasegawa says “We had many small issues in the engine – and that area is difficult to understand on the dyno. We are about to solve that [MGU-H] issue, we just need to confirm on the circuit.”
Ferrari retain Raikkonen
Ferrari has announced they are to retain Kimi Raikkonen for 2018. The Finn was due to be out of contract at the end of the season, with rumours saying he could leave the team.
In a short statement, the team confirmed the thirty-seven-year-old would remain with the team. The conclusion of this deal means that Ferrari can focus on renewing their deal with Sebastian Vettel for next season.
Raikkonen has adapted well to the faster and more challenging cars this season, which has allowed the Finn to deliver consistently good performances. Including a pole in Monaco, however, he remains fifth in the championship.
That caused Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne to ask questions about his overall commitment and effort, with labelling him a ‘laggard’ ahead of the Austrian GP. In June, Marchionne said “I think Kimi has got to show a higher level of commitment to the process. There are days when I think he’s a bit of a laggard, but we’ll see.”
Thou this confirmation comes slightly earlier than expected, it will be seen as a move to try and retain Sebastian Vettel. There have been suggestions that the German made it a condition that the Finn remain at Ferrari for now if he was to contemplate the long-term deal that his bosses want him to sign.
But also be a bid to stop speculation about the future becoming a distraction from its world championship efforts.
Toro Rosso renews Keys contract
Toro Rosso has announced they have extended the contract of the team’s technical director James Key. The 45-year old has been with the Red Bull junior team for five years and has been praised for his aerodynamic work with the team.
Key has also helped in nurtured young talents such as Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, and Carlos Sainz while he has been linked with a move to Ferrari in the past, and more recently with Williams.
In a statement, Key said “I am delighted to continue with Toro Rosso and remain part of the Red Bull family. This is a team which I have great respect for and have thoroughly enjoyed working with for the past 5 years; now I look forwards to continuing our project into the future.”
“I would like to thank Franz Tost and Red Bull for their continued support and confidence. We have more work to do, and I look forwards to taking the next steps with Toro Rosso towards our goals.”
Team principal Tost added, “in his time with us, James has proved that he can indeed make that difference, leading the technical side of the operation.”
“Not only has he been adept at producing chassis-aero packages that are well regarded throughout the paddock, he has also shown the management skills necessary to get the most out of all the various departments”
Mercedes can’t assume it’s the team to beat
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that the team has had enough harsh lessons this season to automatically assume it will be the team to beat at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The German team head into the second half of the season leading the constructors, but both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are behind Sebastian Vettel in the driver’s championship. Mercedes has spent much of the first half of the season trying to tame the car.
Wolff told ESPN “The summer shutdown came at the perfect time for us to make a step back and take stock of our season so far. It has been a good one — and has shown a lot of the qualities of our team.”
“We have overcome a difficult start to testing and significantly improved a fast but tricky car. We have learned hard lessons, grown strong as a group and there are still many areas for us to keep improving.”
The next two races at Spa and Monza are expected to play to Mercedes, however, Wolff says he isn’t going to believe anything until the cars are on track.
He says that the competitive advantage has swung backwards and forwards this season and Red Bull will be a threat if they can build on the performance they showed in Hungary.
“On paper, people will assume that Spa should suit our car because it is a circuit where aerodynamic efficiency is extremely important. But assumptions are dangerous.”
“We have seen too many times already this season that the form book can be rewritten from one weekend to the next,” Wolff says the team’s motivation and determination are greater than ever.
Two new street races in South East Asia
Formula One commercial boss Sean Bratches says that the sport is looking for two more street Grand Prix in Asia. The sports owners Liberty Media has been looking at ways it can expand the calendar in Asia and the Americas while protecting historic races in Europe.
Since Singapore joined the calendar as the sports first night race in 2008, the race has proved hugely successful and popular with the fans and drivers. Bratches says that fans can expect more races like this in the future.
Speaking in Shanghai, Bratches said, “I’m spending a lot of time reaching out proactively to cities … and think ultimately we will realise more street races than we have seen historically.”
“We will go to iconic cities where there are large fan bases, particularly new fan bases that we can activate. From a fan standpoint the backdrops of these city centres … can really make compelling television and pictures.”
However, these races have sometimes proved unsuccessful, as both India and South Korea both dropped off the calendar after just three and four seasons respectively. Singapore’s future is still uncertain, with talks still on going.
Bratches said that in terms of sheer fan numbers Asia is Formula One’s biggest market and they are in negotiations for races in “entirely new places”.
“We are very focused on bringing additional GPs to the continent here. We’re in talks with a couple of cities to that end,” he said, declining to give further details.
The plan is to have a third of the season each in the Americas, Europe and Asia, said Bratches.
Supersoft most popular for Monza
Pirelli has announced the driver’s tyre allocations for next weekends Italian Grand Prix. For next weekends race, the tyre manufacturer nominated the white medium, the yellow soft and the red supersoft tyres.
The supersoft tyres has proved the most popular option with all of the drivers being allocated the supersoft with most of their thirteen sets being used, all the drivers have been allocated a single medium.
Both Mercedes, Force India’s and Haas’s have chosen nine sets of the supersofts, three soft. The Red Bull’s, Williams’s, McLaren’s, Ferrari’s, Sauber’s, Toro Rosso’s and Renault’s have all chosen ten supersofts and two softs.
The reason Pirelli has opted to bring the tyres as there is less tyre degradation, there was little incentive to choose the soft or medium options on performance grounds.