Engine regulations need broad support
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul says that Formula One faces a major struggle to come up with engine regulations that will attract broad support.
A meeting last month has already agreed to replace the V6 hybrids with simpler, cheaper and noisier engines after 2020. However, he says getting consensus on the current rules was the easy part and fears that finding an acceptable solution for everyone may be difficult.
He told Autosport “That’s typically an area where solutions will not be easily found, because of the complexity of the technology, because of the complexity of the question. You need to satisfy carmakers who are financing the sport in the current model”.
“Maybe a different model could be found where carmakers are not so important for the business model of the sport, but it’s not [currently] the case. You need also to satisfy the fans, you need to satisfy the customer teams, so that question is not an easy one to resolve.”
Abiteboul says that consensus can be made on what is good and what is bad about the current formula. However because teams want to protect their own interests, if they are currently at the top who will try to protect the advantage that they built.
One of the outcomes of the meeting was that a hybrid element should remain part of the new formula and that there should be a focus on engine noise.
The Frenchman said that electrification will not be going away so there needs to be a mix between an internal combustion engines and hybrid,
Honda has direction on reliability
Honda is confident that the solid day of testing the had last Wednesday offered the team direction they need to overcome their reliability issues.
It was a difficult weekend and first day for McLaren in Bahrain last week, during the race weekend they had a number of MGU-H failures and the first day of testing was cut short with n a water leak on the Energy Recovery System kept the car in the garage for the majority of the day.
The problems were traced to the MGU-H, which is the part of the power unit that harvests energy from the engine’s exhaust gases via the turbo and can also be used to control the speed of the compressor.
Following a power unit change for the second day there reliability was much improved. This gave the team the chance to turn up some of the car’s performance settings and complete its entire run plan.
Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa told ESPN “After a disappointing grand prix weekend in Bahrain, we have since had an extremely busy few days during in-season testing.”
“The team has been working hard to implement some counter measures to help combat our MGU-H issues. By the second day of testing, we think we were able to confirm the direction of our solution.”
Hasegawa says this solution will be tried this weekend in Sochi, but despite last years strong race, he says the straights will still present the team with a few issues.
“The 2016 Russian Grand Prix saw McLaren-Honda finish the race with two cars in the points. I expect the Russian Grand Prix will be another challenging race weekend for us.”
Mercedes could come to Honda’s aid
Mercedes could come to the aid of Honda as they look to turn around their difficult start to the season.
The Japanese manufacturer had hoped to had made progress over the winter, but so far has had difficulty with reliability and the power of the power unit.
Sources within Honda have said that discussions are on-going for Mercedes to give consultancy assistance to help it make rapid progress with its power unit.
Although it is understood the specifics of the deal have yet to be signed off, the main focus could be to help with the electronic and hybrid area of the power unit. This will be seen as a shift for Honda, who have been reluctant for outside help
Honda’s F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa has declined to say who is involved but says the manufacturer was leaving no stone unturned in efforts to improve matters. he told Motorsport.com “Actually we have been doing everything we can do. We are utilising every source from outside.”
“From the beginning of March, we are almost changing our organisation [completely]. I think it works better, but it was too late to modify our development [so far]” Hasegawa said engine modifications take time.
He also wouldn’t elaborate on the Mercedes plan, only saying that Honda had made use of experts who have worked previously with all current F1 manufacturers.
Also, Mercedes declined to comment on the situation when contacted by Motorsport.com.
Strategy Group is a “hassle” and a “headache”
Force India’s Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley, says being a member of the Strategy Group is a “hassle” and a “headache”, but feels he has a moral responsibility to fight for the independent teams.
The team has been a member of the body as it has been fifth in the championship for the last two years, but that hasn’t seen Fernley change his views on the group. Once he described it as “not fit for purpose”.
F1’s new owner Liberty Media is believed to be keen to streamline the championship’s governance, which currently involves ideas being tabled at Strategy Group level as the first step.
Then followed by the Commission, before ratification by the World Motor Sport council. Force India is one of six teams and is the smallest in the group.
Fernley believes its role is to fight for the interests of the independent outfits not represented. He told Autosport “From a personal point of view it’s been a lot of hassle. It’s our third year on the Strategy Group.”
“I’ve taken a lot of flack over the past two-and-a-half to three years. From a moral responsibility point of view, we’re the only team representing the independent teams, and somebody’s got to stand up for what you think is right in Formula 1.”
Fernley says he thinks because of the significance of the items being discussed, that it’s unfair that not all the teams are involved.
Indian court upholds judgement on tax
India’s supreme court has ruled that Formula One had a permanent establishment in the country making income generated taxable in the country, marking a key victory for the tax department.
A permanent establishment (PE) is a fixed place of business which generally gives rise to income or value-added tax liability in a particular jurisdiction.
The Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhush ruled “We have held that FOWC has PE in India and income that is attributable in India will be taxed. The amount that is to be taxed is to be assessed by an assessing officer.”
A reprehensive for the race organisers Ankur Saigal, said the detailed judgement is awaited but the apex court has held that an assessing officer will assess the income to be taxed. The Jaypee Group signed a five-year deal to host the race from 2011.
But, the race was dropped in 2013 because the state government in Uttar Pradesh, doesn’t say F1 is a sport and classes it as entertainment. This means that organisers need to pay tax and duties on everything connected with the race.
FOWC last year challenged a judgement which ruled that Jaiprakash Associates Ltd for the use of FOWC logos and symbols to promote the Grand Prix couldn’t be considered royalty and be taxed as such.
Wehrlein talks about his recovery
Pascal Wehrlein says his back injury from his accident at the Race of Champions in January, could of ended his career if he didn’t take the necessary recovery time.
The German fractured three vertebrae in his back in an accident at the Race of Champions in January, leading to a period of rehabilitation when he was unable to train for the start of the F1 season.
However, his decision to withdraw from the opening race in Melbourne drew in criticism from onlookers. But, a series of photos showing how serious the injuries had been.
Speaking at the in-season test in Bahrain the following week he said it was crucial for his long-term fitness that he took the necessary time off. He went further today, telling ESPN “I think I was quite good in not letting all the comments affect my recovery or my thoughts.”
“I knew what injury I had and how bad it was. The teams knew — both Sauber and Mercedes. I had and I was never getting pressure from here or Mercedes, because this injury in the end is quite serious and could have ended my career.”
He says that they knew straightaway it would take time to heal and said he realised in Melbourne it was too early for my back and too early for my fitness and I was not fit enough to drive the car.
He added following Melbourne he “went straight back home to get into training and we decided together not to do China and do another week of proper training before coming back.”