Vasseur axed Honda deal on first morning
Fred Vasseur has reviled that within an hour of being appointed as Sauber’s team principal he decided to take the team in a new direction and terminating the Honda engine deal.
Vasseur’s first six months in charge of the Swiss team has been marked with him terminating the deal with the manufacturer and forge a deeper relationship with Ferrari. The Frenchman has now spoken to Motorsport.com about his return, saying “For me it was important. It is never easy to change the engine supplier first, but Honda was not in a very good shape.”
“Plus, and probably most important for me, was that we were linked to McLaren for the gearbox with absolutely no internal resources to do our own one.” Vasseur said he was convinced that McLaren was going to leave their Honda deal and at that was going to impact on the gearbox supply.
Vasseur’s move to Sauber came months after he left Renault because he felt his vision was not the same as managing director Cyril Abiteboul. He has no regrets about leaving the team, however, he had a sense that there were some unfinished business and a point to prove what he could do in F1.
“You know I spent the last 27 years of my life on track and for sure you want to succeed. You don’t want to finish like this. It is nothing to do with revenge or something like this. I was always looking for the good project for me in F1 and I think this one was perfect for me.”
Vassuer’s first six months have seen the team build a new relationship with Ferrari but remains adamant that this isn’t about the team being a junior or B team for Ferrari. He says that this is more a “common approach and mutual agreement.”
Toro Rosso and Honda to hit track early
Toro Rosso and Honda partnership will hit the track for the first time on a filming day on 21st February. Teams are allowed to carry out two promotional a year and they are not allowed to exceed 100km in length.
The test will allow the team to get to grips with the Honda engine and shake down their car before testing begins on the following Monday. Already the team has confirmed it had passed the FIA’s crash tests, allowing the car build phase to accelerate.
Renault looks to Force India for cost efficiency
Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul says that Force India’s success on a limited budget is an example that the French manufacturer could follow.
Force India finished fourth in the constructor’s championship for the second consecutive season, two places above Renault. Ahead of last season, Abiteboul suggested that the regulation changes would create an “arms race” and make “resources very difficult for the small teams.”
He also added, “We should be easily capable of beating teams like Haas and Force India and so on.” Following those comments Force India’s team principal, Vijay Mallya responded by telling sceptics to “eat their words” after his team’s continued strong performance in the championship.
Asked by Autosport whether he would be, Abiteboul said his words were “wrongly represented”, suggesting Force India’s stability and efficiency was an example for Renault to follow.
He told the magazine “Frankly I think my words were wrongly represented because I’ve always had huge respect for Force India and continue to have huge respect for Force India.”
“That respect is only greater after this year. They have shown that with very limited resources they’ve been capable of generating huge performance. This is on the back of a great driver line-up, and also on the back of what is still the best power unit in the field.”
Abiteboul says that Force India’s stability over the past year has shown what is capable when you are extremely efficient from a cost perspective.
Sainz to make rally debut
Carlos Sainz Jr will make his rally debut at this weekend’s Monte Carlo Rally following in the footsteps his father. Carlos Sainz Snr, who won the Dakar Rally at the weekend, has won the traditional season opener in Monaco and southern France three times.
On Sunday the Renault driver will take part in the 13.58k power stage between La Cabanette and Col de Braus driving the Renault Megane RS. The 23-year-old will act as the VIP course car to check the stage, setting off before the timed WRC contenders.
It is shaping up to be a busy weekend as the long winter has allowed many drivers to go off and do other motorsports. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris, as well as Williams Lance Stroll, will be making their debuts in endurance racing at Daytona 24 Hours.
Speaking about his debut, Sainz Jr told Sky Sports “I’m really looking forward to experiencing Rallye Monte-Carlo for the first time. I’ve heard so much about it from my dad.”
“how difficult the stages are, how the conditions can change in an instant from snow to rain or bright sunshine and of course how you need nerves of steel for some of those mountain passes and hairpins.”
Plans for more F1 Live’s in 2018
Formula One is planning five more F1 Live demo events in five cities around the world this year. The first F1 Live took place with little organisation in London in July last year, where 100,000 fans attended the event with just two days notice.
The London event proved successful and has convinced the sports owners Liberty Media that it can be replicated around the world. In a BBC interview last year, CEO Chase Carey said they wanted every race to be like the Super Bowl.
Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport about 2018 events, Bratches told Auto Motor und Sport “We plan something similar in Marseille, Berlin, Milan, Shanghai and Miami, but not with so many cars.”
“We believe that this contact of Formula One with the audience outside the racetrack is important. It also carries our message to people we would not otherwise reach. Formula One has been so exclusive over the years, that it was only accessible to interested people.”
Five cities have been chosen mostly in Europe to host events in 2018. Marseille and Berlin are expected to be key drivers this year as France and Germany returning to the calendar.
Alonso looks ahead to Daytona and 2018
Fernando Alonso says that he wants to take part again in the Indianapolis 500 and wants to race at the twenty-four hours of Le Mans. Speaking ahead of this weekends Daytona 24 Hours, he said that doing racing over the winter has been better.
He told ESPN, “I’m used to spending January and February preparing physically for the season, doing training camps … training the neck with weights, with elastics.
“Now I have the opportunity to train those muscles and to get into the racing spirit in the car and racing some of the best racers in the world. It’s a nice preparation and nice warm-up of the season in F1.” The Spaniard is spending time in the US and has met with many stars on the US motorsport stage.
From Thursday his focus will be on the race ahead of qualifying tomorrow afternoon before the race begins on Saturday. His teammates at McLaren’s reserve driver Lando Noris and Philip Hanson, with the second being driven by former F1 drivers Bruno Senna and Paul di Resta, with Hugo de Sadeleer.
Speaking about Le Mans, he said it’s something he wants to do one day but this year’s race has not been discussed. This weekend is being seen as a good test for endurance racing, with him saying “I feel if you experience once, like we are doing this weekend in Daytona, eventually if you are in LeMans one day, it will not be new, and it will be a massive help.”
Speaking about the Indianapolis 500, he said that was not happening but he would like to try Nascar potentially one day. Adding “Right now, it looks quite far because I think the driving technique and the experience all those guys have, it’s quite difficult for me to achieve that level. But I will never know until I try.”