No “crazy” promises to tempt Alonso
Renault says they are not making “crazy” promises to temp back Fernando Alonso to the French team for next season and insists they want their drivers to be committed for the long term.
As Alonso’s frustration with the lack of progress and performance of the Honda power unit has caused speculation that he could return to the team where he won both his world titles in the mid-2000’s.
But the teams managing director Cyril Abiteboul has warned that the Spaniard would need to be patient at Enstone. Autosport asked if Renault would be ready for a driver such as Alonso in 2018, he said: “I am not here to pull off a one-off coup with someone, I am not living in the past.”
“I started working in F1 when Flavio [Briatore] and Fernando were in this group together at Enstone, so I am emotionally touched by this period.” However,
Abiteboul warned that he doesn’t believe that next year the team would be able to fight for the title, saying “We need a driver who can support us in this ultimate fight for the championship, but be prepared to wait for the time to come for this to happen.”
Abiteboul says that he thinks Formula One is moving to a driver formula and he say that their development will hopefully put them in a position to be part of the top teams in two years’ time.
Alonso and McLaren have agreed to not to look about until the summer when they begin talking and Renault wants time to judge current drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer too.
McLaren’s warning over Honda supply
McLaren says that there could be “a price to pay” if they engine supplier Honda, decides to supply another team despite the additional benefits it may bring.
Honda is the only manufacturer on the grid which only supplies a single team, which has been the case since they returned to the grid in 2015.
The drawbacks of this were clear in testing, as the Japanese manufacturer struggled with reliability issues, meaning the team left Barcelona with significantly less mileage than its rivals. There has been talk of Sauber switching from Ferrari to Honda power next year.
McLaren is open to this, as long as it is not “detrimental” to the team. McLaren’s racing director, Eric Boullier told ESPN, “More teams is better, more teams running is better definitely, [but] there’s always a price to pay for that which is obviously deviating our resources to maybe build more engines.”
“Whatever happens, we are partners, so at some stage, there will be a second team, and I think we will have to support this. But we have to make sure it’s not detrimental to our partnership with Honda.”
This season once again for the third year in a row, McLaren find themselves miles behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault on power and speed.
While increasing the number would give Honda more track time and useful data to attempt to overcome those issues, Boullier does not think it would have changed anything in the last two years.
When asked if it would have been detrimental for Honda to have had another customer team before 2017, Boullier replied: “Yes. I still believe it’s easier today, to be honest. I think we review all the scenarios, say we open all the offices, we need to hold the files.
Sauber close to Honda deal
Motorsport.com has learnt that Sauber is close to agreeing on a deal with Honda to replace Ferrari as the team’s engine supplier. The Swiss team has used Ferrari power since BMW withdrew from the sport in 2010.
Talks between the two have been going on for a while, it is understood and talks between the two were accelerated in March, and the finishing touches are now being put to what will be a long-term arrangement.
The deal would be another sign of the rebuilding of the Swiss team, following the investment deal last team which saved the team from collapse. However, McLaren would need to agree to the deal.
But, the regulations have changed, which allows the FIA to force the manufacturer with the fewest customers to supply a team that needs an engine.
Honda was not keen, particularly given its struggles with performance and reliability, but would do so if asked because of its duty to F1. When the situation on and off track improved last year, Honda turned its attention to the possibility of taking on a second team.
That was before their recent struggles. Sauber has emerged as the frontrunner as it has grown increasingly frustrated with supplier Ferrari regarding performance and unreliability.
an agreement needs to be done by the end of next week because manufacturers required to notify the FIA of who it intends to supply for 2018 by May 6.
Strategy group facing calls to intervene
The Strategy Group could face calls at tomorrow’s meeting to intervene to help Honda make better progress following its difficult start to the season.
Honda introduced a new concept for this season, however, they have failed to make the progress they wanted by a new concept for this season. Tomorrow the Strategy Group meets, and it has emerged there will likely be discussions about the possibility of rivals approving a plan for Honda to get some assistance.
A year ago, the group agreed to keep the current turbo hybrid rules in place until 2020, a plan was put in place to ensure all the current engines were pretty equal on performance.
The FIA say they are to analyse the potential of each power unit after the first three races of 2017 and, if the difference between them exceeded 0.3 seconds on a simulation around the Barcelona circuit, then the Strategy Group would be asked to intervene.
Eric Boullier confirmed to Motorsport.com that he would be raising it at the meeting. “We are in a position today where I am not sure everyone wants us to get more performance from the power unit.”
“But I think it will be fairer for F1 to have a level playing field. I am not saying helping someone to beat the best power unit, but to be within this 0.3 seconds ballpark of performance.”
Hamilton wants Williams and McLaren in the fight
Lewis Hamilton says he hopes that he can fight with Williams and McLaren for world championships before he retires. The Brit left McLaren who have failed to win a race since he left at the end of 2012.
Since then Hamilton has gone on to win 33 F1 races and two world championships in four seasons with Mercedes. McLaren hasn’t won a race since Hamilton joined Mercedes, while Williams hasn’t fought for the world championship since 2003.
Any hopes of winning for McLaren appear to be a long way of as their struggles with the Honda power unit lacking power and reliability. While Williams is looking to Paddy Lowe who won titles with Hamilton at McLaren and Mercedes to turn their fortunes around.
He told Motorsport.com “What’s sad for me watching Formula 1 is you see the depth of teams, Williams, McLaren, and they’re not back there. Williams hasn’t been right in the fight for years – they had that real slump, and now McLaren’s having it.”
“There’s a passion with Ferrari, there’s a passion with Mercedes, passion with McLaren – because of the drivers, experiences and championships they’ve had while I’ve been watching Formula 1.”
Hamilton has repeatedly said he has extra satisfaction he feels from fighting against multiple drivers, rather than simply his own team-mate, and hopes both McLaren and Williams can find a way to join the fight.
Biggest challenge of triple crown
Fernando Alonso admits that winning the Indianapolis 500 is the biggest challenge for him as he attempts to win the last two legs of the Triple Crown of motorsport.
The triple crown is winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indy 500. Only one driver has achieved this, the late Graham Hill. Alonso will be looking to win the race this year to add another tick to the list.
Speaking at Sundays IndyCar race in Alabama Alonso said “I had this idea always in my mind. He said “[Le Mans] I think it’s a series that will probably not need a big adaption time because they feel similar driving.”
“Some of the F1 drivers who jump into the Le Mans cars have no difficulties. So the biggest task is definitely the Indy 500 for a Formula 1 driver.” The Spaniard says he began thinking about doing the triple crown for four or five years, bidding to be a “more complete driver.”
Alonso is aware of the steep learning curve he faces, admitting it is difficult to jump from one series to another. When drivers switch series they “had more experience or a couple of months of preparation or more testing on ovals and superspeedways,” he said.
“So this is quite a unique thing. I’m aware of the difficulty. All the fans are aware of this.” Alonso says he will immerse himself into IndyCar to learn all about the racing and car nuisances.
Alonso tipped by Moto GP champions to be fast at Indy
Moto GP champions Valentino Rosso and Marc Marquez have said they will be following Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 debut with great interest and have tipped the Spaniard to be “really fast” in the iconic oval race.
Speaking in Austin over the weekend at the Grand Prix of Americas, the seven times world champion told ESPN “It was a surprise, because it’s strange that Alonso won’t race in Monaco. But I think the situation with the car [in F1] is difficult and he wants to try something else.”
“It will be very interesting to understand the potential of Alonso at Indy because it’s completely another world, especially when you race on the oval.”
Alonso will head to America following the Spanish Grand Prix and will have tests in-between Russia and his home race in Barcelona. Rossi says that racing on an oval is very interesting, but he needs to understand its very different.
Marquez added his backing to his fellow Spaniard to be very competitive at the event. “The decision on my side is difficult to understand because Monaco is one of the good tracks that maybe with McLaren he can get a good result.”
“It is a race that’s difficult to understand from outside.”