Aston to decide by March on entry
Aston Martin CEO Andy Martin says that the British car company will decide in the next nine months whether to go ahead and build its own Formula One engine.
Palmer has been enthusiastic about the next set of engine regulations, with the company hiring Ferrari’s former engine boss Luca Marmorini last year. Marmorini has been carrying out consultancy work for Aston as well as a feasibility study.
Speaking about the project to Motorsport.com, Palmer said “It’s gathered momentum, that’s for sure. Nothing’s come along that’s deflected the probability, nothing’s been put in place that says we can’t do it any more.”
“So we continue to do as much pre-study as we can in the context of what we understand of the regulations, which are not fully detailed. We can at least size up the opportunity now.” He says that the key piece in the decision would be whether there was a cost cap.
Saying they don’t have money to burn and he is “expecting something along the lines of a limited number of dyno hours, some way of putting a monetary effect on hours spent, that kind of thing.”
Aston Martin is the title sponsor of Red Bull Racing, and the companies are partners on the Valkyrie hypercar project. Also, the manufacturer is expected to work with Ilmor or Cotsworth, but they also want there own input.
Speaking about Marmorini, Palmer said “he’s done it before, he has a lot of credibility, a lot of understanding, and he can guide us. But most engines around the world are done with some from of consulting, that’s what they do.”
However, he warned that Honda has proved how hard it can be for a new engine manufacturer.
Hamilton expects strong Red Bull and Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton is expecting strong showings from Ferrari and Red Bull at this weekends Monaco Grand Prix, fearing that Mercedes will only have the third strongest car.
Last years race was a very difficult weekend for the German team and Hamilton, he could only manage fourteenth in qualifying and finished seventh. It was the only race last year where Mercedes was not on the podium and ahead of the weekend team principal and CEO Toto Wolff admitted he was “bloody worried” about a repeat.
Speaking at Wednesday press conference, Hamilton admitted it was a distinct possibility that Mercedes wouldn’t be a match for its main rivals on pure pace around the streets of the Principality.
He told the press conference “I do anticipate it will be a difficult weekend. Not one that it is impossible, but it is a lot closer and we may not have the pace of the others. We will find out tomorrow the true pace and identity of what we arrive here with.”
“I am excited for that challenge either way – if you look at last year, there were undercuts and overcuts [in the race], so anything is still possible.”
Hamilton says that the team has “definitely” learned a lot from last year, and were more confident with there preparation. Mercedes according to the data, were second fastest and were beaten by Red Bull on strategy.
However, the Englishman believes the Red Bull car should be an even stronger proposition in Monaco this year, on evidence of its pace in the Barcelona circuit’s twisty third sector.
“If you look at the last race and testing in February, and even in the test the other day, the Red Bulls were particularly quick in the last sector,” he said.
Not a “must win” race – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel insists that this weekends Monaco Grand Prix is not a “must win” race as Ferrari looks to get their challenge for the title back on course.
The German hasn’t been on the podium since Bahrain, that has allowed his main title rival Lewis Hamilton to overtake him in the drivers championship. Speaking to Sky Sports, Vettel said “We are coming here because we want to win, not because we must win. That for me is a big difference.”
“We want to win. I think it will be incredibly close. I think Red Bull should be stronger here, especially on Saturday so we will see. It’s good if you come here and know that you are in the mix. We will try to make the difference.”
In Barcelona, Ferrari had their most difficult weekend of the season after struggling with tyre wear and Kimi Raikkonen retired because of an engine issue.
However, last year they dominated around the streets of Monte Carlo, with Vettel is optimistic the issues they discovered in Barcelona will not apply to the unique street circuit.
“I think it was only the last race that wasn’t that good. I think it’s normal that every now and then that things don’t go according to what you think or where you want them to go,” he said.
“I think this track is completely different so it doesn’t really matter for this weekend but there is a lot of stuff, a lot of work that we are currently undergoing to try and understand and try to find the reasons and sort them out for the future.
Williams not “in a spiral of decline”
Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams, has insisted that her team is not “in a spiral of decline” or “on its way out” of the sport.
The British team has had a very difficult start to the season, only scoring four points and are currently bottom of the constructors’ championship. Williams finished third in the teams’ standings in 2014 and ’15 and fifth in the following two seasons, but a big overhaul of its car design has led to a significant drop in form.
Ms Williams told Autosport that the process of rebuilding from this difficult start would “define” the team. She added, “When you are winning it’s fantastic and when you are not then you have to re-organise and regroup.”
“It’s always about how you cope with those challenges. At the moment there is a huge spirit within Williams to get this fixed.” She says anyone thinking that the team is on its way out of the downturn is wrong.
Williams has recruited former Ferrari man Dirk de Beer as head of aerodynamics, former Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe as chief technical officer and former McLaren head of aero Doug McKiernan as chief engineer.
But she says that the teams’ technical department is nowhere near where they want to be, adding “sometimes you need to almost have that kind of dose of reality to set yourself a different course and move forward.”
Williams admitted that with the Martini deal not being renewed at the end of this season was “not particularly helpful” to have poor results as it seeks a replacement.
But she pointed out that its Martini deal started in similar circumstances, with its peak in 2014, the first year of the arrangement, following a dismal 2013 season in which Williams finished ninth with five points.
Ferrari tweaks mirrors
Ferrari has reviled a tweaked version of its halo mounted mirrors, following a ruling that the winglets added at the Spanish Grand Prix were illegal.
The team was the first to switch the mounting of its mirrors off the nose and on to the halo. However, the concept raised concerns in Barcelona that a winglet that the team declared was aimed to support the mirror also gave them a clear aerodynamic benefit.
Following an inspection by race director Charlie Whiting issued a directive, saying that while the FIA had no problem with the mirrors, it would only allow extra support elements if there was a minimal aero benefit.
Reflecting on the Spanish GP design, Whiting said at the time: “The interpretation hinges on whether we think that’s a mounting or not. We somehow think not.”
“We answered yes, and gave a few stipulations, one that it has to be a mounting. It’s just a matter of interpretation and such a tenuous interpretation is not something we’re happy with.”
For Monaco, Ferrari’s mirror has been retained in the same position but the support winglet above it has been removed.
The Rosberg’s return to Monaco
Former world champions Keke and Nico Rosberg will drive their title-winning cars on Thursday lunchtime at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The father-and-son run will reunite Keke with his 1982 Williams FW07C and Nico with his 2016 Mercedes W07. Keke’s F1 career ended after the 1986 season while his last competitive campaign was his DTM farewell in 1995.
The last time the two drove at the same Grand Prix was in Bahrain in 2010, when Rosberg Sr drove the same car as part of celebrations for the sixtieth championship.
In a video on Twitter, Nico said “We’re both going to be getting into our world championship winning Formula 1 cars, my dad in his 1982 car me in my 2016 car.”
“So we’re going to be bombing it around Monaco together for a couple of laps. I think it’s going to be good fun, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Monaco to defy the ban on Grid Girls
Organisers of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix are set to use grid girls ahead of Sunday’s race, despite the sports owners Liberty Media banning the practice.
Earlier this year, Liberty replaced the practice because it said that it was “at odds with modern-day societal norms”.
Liberty has since rolled out its grid kids scheme, with twenty children already involved in the junior ranks of motorsport lining up in front of the drivers prior to the start of the race. The grid kids will still be used in Monte Carlo on Sunday, but the glamorous race is also primed to see the return of grid models.
According to the British news agency PA, the organisers will use both male and female representatives of Tag Heuer, who have a long-term relationship with the Monaco Grand Prix, will take to the grid in the moments before the race.
They will capture pictures of the drivers, which will be posted to social media, and also relay messages from the sport’s fans. In a now-deleted Instagram post, Lewis Hamilton wrote “thank you Jesus.”
But the four times champion has deleted the post before distancing himself from the post.
Jean Todt, president for F1’s governing body the FIA, earlier this year blasted the furore around the decision as “bulls***”.
Russian organiser and deputy prime minster Dmitry Kozak vowed to bring female models back for their race in September.
Kozak told the state news agency’s TASS and Interfax “In all forms of motorsport there are girls advertising cars harmoniously and pleasantly. If we manage to reach agreement we plan to reinstate this tradition. After all, our girls are the most beautiful.”
Tomorrow’s practice sessions will as always give us an indication of who could be strong this weekend. Teams won’t bring upgrades for this weekend, however its common to see drivers make mistakes on Thursday as drivers adapt to the challenges.
In practice, we have regularly seen interruptions as drivers push to the limits. One of the questions, is has Mercedes got on top of what made them struggle in last years race? However, Mercedes are expected to struggle again.
The session tomorrow won’t see the track cleaned up for the weekend, as on Friday these roads are open to the public. That means we will see huge improvement throughout Thursday, however that improvement won’t carry through to Saturday.
We will also be watching Pirelli’s Hypersoft tyre, it’s the first time that they have brought their softest compound. However, the tyre had been developed specificity for street circuits like Monaco. How much life they have, that is a bit of an unknown at this stage.
In theory, it should be two steps softer than last year’s tyres that should see new lows in terms of lap times.
F1 Vault will bring you full live coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix, starting from 09:45 BST Thursday morning with first practice and Notebook. As well as extensive build up on Friday, with a special edition of F1 Today.