Ricciardo joining shows faith in plans
Renault says that Daniel Ricciardo has shown faith in the teams future plans, as the French manufacturer is targeting going on the “attack” this season.
The Australian’s switch to Renault is the biggest driver change ahead of 2019. The F1 executive director Marcin Budkowski believes Ricciardo’s decision to join them reflects well on the team’s ambitions. He told Sky Sports “It’s a great buzz to have someone like Daniel who decides to join us, which shows a trust in the project, what we’re trying to achieve, and also a desire to be involved.”
“The day he was announced here everybody was very, very excited and coupling him with Nico [Hulkenberg], who had a very strong season last season and the last couple of years, we have one of the best line-ups on the grid.”
The French team finished fourth in the constructors in 2018, but they still were unable to close the gap to the top three Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Budkowski says progress up the standings has been “completely in line with our targets” so far but that “the challenge starts now in terms of closing the gap to the top three”.
Budkowski says that when Renault returned to F1 in 2016 it had a five-year plan to be in a position to challenge for championships. That now coincides with regulation changes.
This year the team has started again, he says that the aim is to squeeze more performance from the car. He admitted, “It is a big effort to do everything from scratch, plus the [new] regulations, but it is a performance goal. The later you leave it, the more performance you have, but the more stressful it is to get it out on time.”
The team has passed its mandatory FIA crash tests and is scheduled to launch its 2019 car at its Enstone factory on February 12, prior to testing beginning the following week
Blameless culture Haas’s strength – Magnussen
Kevin Magnussen believes that the lack of blame culture within Haas is one of the team’s biggest strengths that has held other teams back. The Anglo-American team was one of the biggest surprises last season, as it battled with Renault.
Although the team primarily based in Oxfordshire has limited resources compared to many of its midfield rivals, the Dane believes that the culture of the team has evolved because it is so small is allowing it to thrive.
He told Motorsport.com, “It forces us to be very focused and it is easier to stay on track when you are just a few departments in the team, rather than, you know, you have it all in one place and everyone is trying to get the best of each world.”
“You sometimes get these departments fighting each other to get the attention – where one department thinks something is important while another departments thinks the aero is important.” Magnussen believes that the way Haas builds a car is very simple and direct, which makes it easier.
Magnussen admits that while the teams’ size is helping to improve its efficiency, the team is lacking some experience. He says that they are working better as a group and at changing the set up quickly to react to the situation, but says they need to work on understanding the tyres.
Magnussen says the strong team spirit at Haas is also helping him enjoy F1 more than he has done before. Adding “Definitely is a much better atmosphere than I’ve had ever, because the performance is good and also, you know, I am just in a quite a good place in my career.”
“I have security in terms of my future in the team and the team, you know, is very committed to me. I feel trusted and valued, so that part is very good.” He says that there is no blame within the team.
Toro Rosso announces launch plans
Toro Rosso has announced they will launch their 2019 car, the STR12 online on Monday 11th February. The Italian based team is so far the first team to launch their car with most of the other teams deciding to launch the week before pre-season testing.
Six teams have now confirmed their launch dates, with Renault previously set to be the earliest by unveiling its new car on February 12. Racing Point will follow on Wednesday and McLaren on Thursday followed by Ferrari on Friday.
Sauber is the only team so far to commit to launching its car in the pit lane at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya ahead of testing. Although, Toro Rosso’s sister team Red Bull, has been linked to a repeat of its 2018 plans, which involved a Silverstone shakedown and pitlane roll-out in testing.
Caterham employees paid by administrators
More than two hundred former employees of the Caterham team have finally been paid a small sum, following a legal row which has finally been resolved five years after the team collapsed.
The Malaysian owned team fell into administration at the end of the 2014 season following a dispute between the founder Tony Fernandes and a group of investors who had bought the team that summer.
The administrators Smith & Williams took control of the team ahead of the United States Grand Prix and missed the race along with Brazil, but a crowdfunding campaign allowed the team to race in Abu Dhabi while efforts to try to find a buyer continued.
The attempts to find a buyer failed with the teams’ assets being sold at the beginning of 2015. several members of staff went on to secure jobs at other F1 teams or elsewhere in motorsport, Caterham’s assets were sold at auction before the start of the campaign.
Motorsport.com has learned that earlier this month, Smith & Williams was able to pay 216 employees that were transferred to their control under TUPE regulations from Caterham.
A statement from the administrators, Finbarr O’Connell, Henry Shinners and Mark Ford, described the recent payment, made on January 15, to those employees as “good news”.
They said “[It] reflects the years of work performed by the administrators in unwinding the complex affairs of the Caterham Formula 1 companies.”
The administrators said that many of the assets they were responsible for converting had “international aspects and were subject to competing claims that had to be resolved before being realised”.
They say that the last assets and tax affairs have been completed, meaning that fund was available to make payments. It was reported last year that £217,495.06 worth of claims has been made by the teams’ former employees.
They state that “preferential creditors are entitled to receive the equivalent of unpaid wages for the previous four months up to a maximum of £800 total”, plus holiday pay of up to six weeks and “some occupational pension payments”.
The payments have been made after tax and National Insurance was paid to the British tax office, HMRC.
Unsecured creditors include the companies who have sought outstanding payments from Caterham, which administrators said last October, in their latest progress report, comprised 25 creditors claiming £66.8million.
according to the administrators “there remains a good prospect for a small dividend for unsecured creditors and we anticipate that such payment will be made in the next six months”, after which the case will be concluded.
F1 TV to show full testing live
Formula One confirmed earlier this week that F1 TV subscribers outside the UK & Ireland, that it will show full live coverage of pre-season testing from the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya.
Last week, Sky Sports would be showing four hours of running per day from the opening Barcelona test, F1 TV has now confirmed it will show eight hours of on-track running per day from February 18-21, followed by a one-hour review show.
F1 TV Pro is available in sixty-seven countries around the world, excluding the UK. For the second pre-season test, the one-hour review show will return at the end of each day of running.
Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital, Licensing and New Business at Formula 1, said “Following the beta launch of F1 TV last year, our goal is to continue to enhance the product to include more markets, content and platforms.”
The Week Ahead
The story which continues to dominate the news is the scandal involving Carlos Ghosn. It seems every week we get fresh allegations from Nissan, this week it had its first F1 casualty as the incoming president Thierry Koskas. This scandal is different from the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, it’s a corporate scandal which the team could avoid.
Car launches are becoming clearer, it is now looking as if most will be in the week 11th February onwards. As ever, it is about the language at these events we will be watching. Most drivers will start to become more active over the next few weeks as we look towards testing.
We have struggled recently to bring you the news, but we are beginning to get into the build-up phase. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we should have more drivers doing interviews, these will be keen and set the agenda in the lead up to testing.
We are also looking towards the broadcasters to confirm their 2019 plans, Channel 4 will be the most interesting as we don’t know who will be presenting. But we already know that Whisper Films, David Coulthard as confirmed that the on-air presentation hasn’t been confirmed. Sky has confirmed live coverage of testing, with Channel 4 confirming no highlights.