Rivals can’t keep up with Honda’s R&D
Red Bull’s advisor Helmut Marko believes that “nobody can keep up” with the quality of the research and development resources of Honda. Next year, Red Bull are joining there sister team by switching to the Japanese manufacturer.
Honda is preparing to supply both Red Bull and Toro Rosso after they decided to split with Renault. Despite the struggles Honda had when it first returned in 2015 with McLaren, Marco believes that the engine manufacturer can unleash its potential.
Speaking to Austrian broadcaster, Servus TV Marko said “With Toro Rosso, everything is working perfectly. Next year Honda will make a much bigger effort. They have a development centre in Sakura which nobody can keep up with.”
“The Japanese have a different culture and a different way of working. You learn that over time. Our approach with Honda is different than McLaren’s. They were telling them how they wanted the engine to be built, we just say, ‘build the fastest engine possible for us, then we will try to fit it into the chassis’.”
Red Bull has repeated that’s losing its status as the works Renault team has been one of the reasons it decided to spilt with the French manufacturer. Saying that Renault was “always making predictions that we were going to be competitive the next year, but it never happened” and thinks the scope of Honda’s commitment is mightier.
Marco says that Red Bull lost faith in Renault and Honda was “a partner who is committed, has the financial and technical resources and we are the number one team for them.”
Daniel Ricciardo will leave Red Bull to join the Renault works team next season, Marko has admitted may have been influenced by a lack of faith in Honda.
However, he says that Honda has “realised that they made mistakes and changed some of their personnel” and “also got help from experts” from outside the company.
Hartley changed by speculation about future
Brendon Hartley says he is a changed Formula One driver because of the “surprise” speculation that has dogged the early part of this season. The New Zealander has been handed a full time seat with Toro Rosso this season.
However his long-term future in the sport has been subject to speculation as he has been unable to match the performances of his teammate Pierre Gasly. Gasly’s performances mean he will replace Daniel Ricciardo.
Hartley told Motorsport.com, “I actually feel much stronger than I did at the start of the year, much more sure of myself. Having a lot of rumours and difficult questions to answer only three or four races into the season was a big surprise”
“But it was a positive because it made me change my attitude, made me keep my focus in the right areas. I was also happy I could prove myself under a high-pressure situation, that I could perform and deliver.” He says that Bahrain was a defining moment when the rumours started.
Earlier this year, Hartley admitted that he needed to remind himself that he enjoyed racing in F1. Speaking about what has changed since then, he replied being “focused more on me and doing it for myself”, without going as far as saying he has become selfish.
Hartley also said he feels more value and has a good feeling, he also says there is positivity within the team.
While he hasn’t matched the results of Gasly on track, he believes he is now in a stronger position to stay at Toro Rosso and there aren’t many other opportunities on the grid.
Gasly fits Verstappen mould
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says that the promotion of Pierre Gasly is a result of the same philosophy that brought the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen into Formula One.
The Frenchman has been chosen as the replacement for Daniel Ricciardo who is leaving Red Bull to join Renault for 2019. Horner told Autosport, that Red Bull’s willingness to back young drivers “pays off” and “without that, these guys [Vettel, Ricciardo, Verstappen] wouldn’t be getting the chance”.
Vergne approached by a team for 2019
Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne says that returning to Formula One next season is a possibility after he was approached by a team. The Frenchman was dropped by Toro Rosso at the end of 2014, after three seasons with the team.
Since leaving F1, Vergne has become a leading driver in FE and in endurance racing. Speaking to Motorsport.com, following Daniel Ricciardo’s surprise move to Renault, he says that he could make an unexpected comeback as he has “talked to a team, but it’s not Red Bull”.
“It’s very funny, two years ago F1 was something that would never open its doors to me. Today, it’s not completely opened, but I’m talking to some teams and things are starting to move a little bit. With Daniel going to Renault it changed completely the driver market.”
“To have some teams calling me to know what I’m going to do next it feels like ‘ah, I exist!’ for Formula 1. What would be really nice is to have a proper chance in F1.”
“I have got some unfinished business there and with everything I’ve learned lately, how much I’ve improved, I think it would be a completely different story.”
The Frenchman, however, says he doesn’t want to return to F1 just to make up the numbers and believes he has become a “credible” option for teams.
Vergne lost out to Ricciardo when Red Bull replaced Mark Webber when he retired at the end of 2013, before being overlooked to replace Sebastian Vettel who left for Ferrari.
Germany set to stay next year
The German Grand Prix may stay on next years calendar as there is new optimism about the future. Earlier this week that he expected that the calendar would remain the same.
Speaking at an event in London, commercial managing director Sean Bratches told Reuters “I’m an optimist. We haven’t released our schedule yet albeit we will shortly; around Spa. My German’s not great, it’s OK, but the talks have gone OK.”
The biggest question about next years calendar is whether Hockenheim will be on the calendar after its bi-annual contract expired. While the Nurburgring who pulled out of its contract in 2013 because of financial problems are also said to be in negotiations with Liberty.
Jorn Teske, Hockenheim’s marketing director, told Reuters that talks with commercial rights holders Liberty Media had been ongoing in recent weeks but no deal had been done as yet.
“We very much hope that we will host the GP next year but I cannot say more. It’s still open. We are still discussing. What is clear is that both parties are trying to find a solution and this is very good. It means there is really a serious interest of Formula One to keep the German GP.”
Hulkenberg expects engine penalties
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg says that he is expecting he will need to take a penalty at some point during the second half of the season after suffering an energy store problem at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
During practice in Budapest, the German driver stopped on track and was forced to change to the energy store he started the season with. The French manufacturer initially feared that the failure would trigger MGU-K and MGU-H problems as it damaged some wiring looms, but the energy recovery systems were unharmed.
However, chassis technical director, Nick Chester said that the team were not expecting the energy store to be reused this season and also Hulkenberg will not complete the season on the re-fitted element in Budapest.
Hulkenberg had moved onto his second energy store in Austria, along with teammate Carlos Sainz and both drivers at Renault customer McLaren. He will need to use a third energy store, one more than allowed by the regulations, which means a five-place grid drop.
Chester told Motorsport.com “I think probably most people are aware we were probably going to have to take a penalty at some point anyway on energy store. It’s quite badly damaged. It had a short somewhere, so it’s not like the cells have done something weird on their own.”
Any driver who took an early energy store change, or has lost any component of the power unit early on is under pressure to avoid penalties in the second half of the season.
This includes Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson. While drivers like Lewis Hamilton, both Ferrari’s and Max Verstappen are expected to be safe as they switched towards the summer break.
Several drivers are set to take penalties because of other engine changes. Bottas is already on his third V6, turbo and MGU-H with one more Mercedes upgrade to come, while Raikkonen and Verstappen are onto their third turbos.