Verstappen putting pressure on Red Bull
Former Red Bull driver Mark Webber says that Max Verstappen’s ‘flaky’ approach to race weekends is putting pressure on the team.
Writing for the team in a midseason review piece, the Channel 4 pundit claimed that the Dutchman has been ‘going off the road a lot’ during Friday and Saturday running. However, while labelling his performance as flaky he did say the deficit in points to his team-mate was because of mechanical failures rather than mistakes on race day.
“Both of the [Red Bull] guys have driven well this year, but Max has probably been a bit flaky in terms of the build-up to the races through the weekend.” Says Webber
“He’s been going off the road a lot on Friday and Saturday, which puts pressure on mechanics getting the car ready. I’d like to see him on the road a bit more, but he’s pushing the limits.”
“When it comes to Sundays, he hasn’t made many mistakes at all, it’s been a lot of high-profile reliability retirements where he’s lost a truckload of points, so that’s been hard for him to swallow,” Webber says that he thinks Ricciardo is s solid driver and will deliver week in, week out.
“He’s always got the most out of what they’ve given him and it’s hard to see how he could have done much more. We all expected such great things from this car this year, but it came out the box very poorly. They had a lot of catching up to do.”
Renault to bring upgrades to power unit
Renault is to bring an upgraded power unit for the next two races with the aim of assessing their progress against Ferrari and Mercedes. Spa and Monza are two most power sensitive races.
The French manufacturer who also supplies Red Bull and Toro Rosso has been clearly third in the engine power stakes, behind Mercedes and Ferrari. However, Renault made clear it would not bring a single major engine update akin to its impressive step at Monaco last year.
Engine technical director, Remi Taffin says he is looking forward to seeing how these upgrades perform against the team’s rivals at Monza, a circuit which requires the most power of the season.
He told ESPN “Spa and Monza will see new software and hardware updates. We are looking at Monza as a benchmark as it could provide a clear picture of the ranking of the engines.”
“Being in the top ten [with the Renault works team] will be a good result as these next two circuits are power-hungry. After Monza, we have more races and more things in the pipeline, the next two months will be important for the 2017 season outcome.”
Renault is targeting fifth in the constructor’s championship this season, Taffin says the important thing in the second half of the year will be converting qualifying pace into race results.
Don Nichols dies aged ninety-two
The death of the former Formula One boss Don Nichols who employed many great drivers during the 1970’s has been announced. The American designer designed many cars for formula one and Can-Ann for Shadow team.
His career started with spells at various teams, where he designed cars which gained a cult following. This was because of the combination of attractive cars, fast drivers and a battle to achieve results, with a quiet and mysterious owner, earned the team a lot of fans.
Before he entered motorsport, Nichols served in the US Army, serving in both World War II and the Korean War. He then went on to work for Goodyear and Firestone tyre companies, before returning to America and forming the Advanced Vehicle Systems team.
He planned to take on the world of Can Am, a series where ‘anything goes’ creating almost a go-kart style race car with a Chevrolet V8 big-block, whose cooling depended on air rushing into a radiator that was…built into the rear wing!
This put him up against the brilliance of McLaren and Porches.
The DN2 Can-Am car suffered reliability issues; the DN1 Formula 1 car looked great and, in the hands of Follmer and Oliver. This when he began to look at Formula One.
Vandoorne to stay with McLaren
McLaren has confirmed that Stoffel Vandoorne will remain with the British team for 2018. It has been a difficult season for the Belgian rookie but he has done what he needed to in order be retained by the team.
The news will not come as a surprise as McLaren had expected to retain him for next season. However, there remain questions marks over the future of his team-mate Fernando Alonso, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
Vandoorne said “I’m delighted that the team has now formally announced that I will continue to race for them next year, because I’ll be able to approach the second half of my rookie season with total focus on the job in hand: namely getting the very most I can out of my car, my engineers, and everything and everyone around me,” Vandoorne said.
“I’ve already learned such a huge amount in the first half of my first season in Formula 1 – from my engineers, from my mechanics and also from Fernando [Alonso], who is a brilliant driver and also an excellent team-mate.”
Vandoorne made his debut for McLaren last season, out-performing Jenson Button on his debut, scoring McLaren’s first points of the season. That earned him a race seat for this season, though he only managed to score his first points of the season at the last race in Budapest.
Team boss Eric Boullier said “Like all rookies, he’s had to learn a lot in the first half of his first Formula 1 season, but we have great confidence in him, and he’s getting better and better all the time.”
“His team-mate is a tough opponent – that’s an understatement in fact, because he’s arguably the best driver in the sport today – but Stoffel’s robust talent and fierce ambition make us sure that he’ll achieve great successes with us in the future.”
McLaren has not said how long the Belgian’s contract is, but Brown said they intend to keep him for a “significant number of years.”
Norris future depends on Alonso
McLaren junior driver Lando Norris has told Sky Sports that the future with the team could be hugely affected by the future of team-mate Fernando Alonso.
The eighteen-year-old currently leads the Formula Three championship and impressed during the test following the Hungarian Grand Prix. Norris was the surprise during the second day after he set the fastest time, leading to team boss Eric Boullier to describe him as a “star of the future”.
Norris could be one of the names for a race seat with the team next season, as doubts remain about the future of Alonso who is out of contract at the end of the season. Asked by Sky Sports if he had held talks with McLaren management, admitted that Alonso’s decision is key to his future.
Norris said “It really depends on what Fernando does next year. McLaren are doing their best to keep him, he’s an extremely good driver as he has showed with a not perfect package this year.”
Asked when he would next be driving the car, Norris said he needed to speak to Brown and it up to the team when he would next be driving the car.
Speaking about the praise from Boullier, he said “It was a big confidence boost.”
“He’s brought up a lot of young drivers in the past from the junior categories to Formula 1, so he’s not going to be talking rubbish.
Schumacher winner ‘back on track’
Mick Schumacher will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of his father’s first win on Sunday when he will drive the 1994 Benetton, in which his father took his maiden world title.
The eighteen-year-old will drive demonstration laps of Spa – Francorchamps ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. His father Michael, took his first of ninety-one Grand Prix wins at Spa in August 1992.
Mick was with his father when he suffered a serious head injury while skiing in the French resort of Grenoble in December 2013. Since then his father has not been seen in public since.
Schumacher Sr took seven world titles in a career between 1991 and 2006 before a three year come back in 2010 with Mercedes.
However, family spokesperson Sabine Kehm confirmed Mick would not be driving the race-winning car because of mechanical and insurance issues.