Wolff calls on Mercedes to up the rate of development
Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has called on his team to up their rate of development and outperform Ferrari after the Italian team’s advantage became clear at the German Grand Prix.
Ferrari introduced a new MGU-K to all it six powered cars and the step up has caused some speculation that Ferrari has found a loophole in the regulations. Wolff has said that the only way Mercedes can react is by making its car faster.
Speaking at a media event at Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart, Wolff said “I think it’s highly complex technology. If someone, and I’m not saying somebody is, because the fact is I don’t know, we are not in anybody’s engine, we are not in anybody’s bodywork.”
“But if someone were prepared to risk his reputation then there is very little possibility to police that. “You need to rely on the integrity of people and organisations, and we do that.” He added.
Wolff says that scepticism and paranoia has always been part of F1, and it’s the job of the FIA to make sure that all teams have integrity. He says that at circuits like Silverstone and Hockenheim they have seen Ferrari have a good chassis and power unit.
He says that “The only reaction we can have to that is not to say ‘What are they doing?’ but the reaction should be ‘What can we do in order to accelerate our own development program?’.”
Wolff’s mindset remains that everyone is respecting the regulations because that is the only way they can go racing. The challenge for Mercedes is balancing developing this years car while developing next years car.
Next year, tweaks to the aero regulations means that teams need to adapt the whole philosophy of their car to the new rules, and Wolff said Mercedes must be careful not to get caught out.
He added “Whoever is able to start a month earlier is going to have the advantage at the beginning of the season. So we are asking ourselves that question every day and of course cooperations between teams play a role in that also.”
FIA still happy with Ferrari’s hybrid gains
FIA race director Charlie Whiting insists that the sports governing body are still happy with the operation of Ferrari’s hybrid systems, despite the continuing discussions with rival teams.
In Monaco, the sports governing body announced that the investigation into the hybrid system showed that there was nothing wrong with what they were doing. But questions remain because of the strong performances of customer teams Haas and Sauber.
Over the weekend Whiting and other key FIA personnel had meetings with Mercedes, and he says that they were satisfied with everything. He told Motorsport.com “We are entirely satisfied with everything on that front, as we said in Monaco. Some teams have been asking further question and we were just there to try and help them have some peace, if you like.”
Asked if Mercedes had questions about legality, or just wanted to know where the limits were for its own development, Whiting said: “Again, those discussions are private.”
“I don’t think I should be telling you. If you want to talk to Mercedes, they’ll tell you but I think what goes on behind closed doors should remain behind closed doors.”
Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff implied it was routine exchange between the teams and FIA.
Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul admitted that the data suggested that Ferrari was doing something “strange”, but that didn’t mean it was illegal.
He said “we know we have a power deficit, which up until now was against Mercedes. They are still here but we see indeed that Ferrari has taken the upper hand, so congratulations to Ferrari in that battle, which is more a technical battle, but less visible.”
Abiteboul says that it doesn’t seem to be hardware and that Renault should work harder to make the same step.
Ricciardo half engine change puts Red Bull and Renault at logger heads
Renault’s decision not to provide Daniel Ricciardo with all the elements of the power unit at the German Grand Prix has prompted frustration within Red Bull.
Red Bull chose Hockenheim as the place to take penalties so they could have a clear weekend in Budapest, where the team are expected to be strong. However, it now has emerged that Renault only brought three of the six elements. Fitting a new MGU-K, energy store and control electronics but not the anticipated new V6, turbo and MGU-H.
The reason Red Bull wanted all six components fitted was preferred as Ricciardo was already due to start from the back of the grid. The team were frustrated, with team principal Christian Horner told Autosport, it was “a question for Renault” and adding “the normal strategy is to change everything you can”.
Ricciardo then retired from the race with a power unit failure, though it isn’t known what components failed, Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul defended the decisions regarding Ricciardo’s car.
He told Autosport, “There was no reason to change the ICE [internal combustion engine], at the time. It’s always the same thing, in hindsight after the race, you can always reinvent the world and re-do scenarios, but it’s like strategy, wet and dry, it’s like lots of things.”
Abiteboul denied that the decision not to give Ricciardo new elements was due to a lack of availability. But says that failures can happen at anytime.
Norman speaks about broadening appeal
Ellie Norman, the F1 director of marketing and communications, has been speaking to The Guardian newspaper about her plans to broaden the popularity and sustainability of the sport.
The aim she said is to convey the sport to a broader audience and bring passion to he heart of the sport. Speaking to the newspaper, she said “I’ve always had a fascination with cars. I bought a track car when I was 22 – a Porsche 968 Clubsport. I’ve kept it and it’s brilliant: I changed the suspension, upgraded the brakes.”
“It was much to my parents’ horror that I didn’t put a deposit on a flat or something sensible.” Norman grew up watching the sport and attempted to get into racing.
However, the place she excelled was in marketing where she pulled off a big coup by signing up Usain Bolt as part of a campaign to promote Liberty’s UK TV business Virgin Media. She believes, is to connect with fans more effectively and that is already being done by making them feel closer to the drivers. “It’s helmets off and an interview as soon as they step out of the car,” she says.
“We want to capture how athletic and demanding it is. To capture them when they are sweaty and out of breath, the raw emotion rather than a sanitised version. This sort of thing is being put into place to change the perception and to get across how exciting and visceral the sport is.”
Ticket sales for the German Grand Prix rose this season to 70,000, up 12,000 compared to 2016, which was close to selling out Hockenheim. Liberty now works closer with promoters with six monthly group meetings, and are working on ways that F1 and promoters can benefit.
She says that Ross Brawn, managing director motorsports and technical director, is planning for teams to be able to allow teams to go racing but in an “environment that is entertaining, sustainable and delivers what we know our fans want.”
Markelov to test for Renault
Artem Markelov will test for Renault at the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, motorsport.com says it understands. The Russian joined the French manufacturer at the start of the season and will taste a current F1 car for the first time in Budapest.
Earlier this month, Markelov drove a 2016-spec Renault at Paul Ricard but is still to take part in an official test. Over the last few seasons, he has competed in what’s now known as F2 and was runner-up to Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
He is currently fourth in this year’s championship, after taking three wins ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix. At the Hungaroring, Markelov will split Renault test duties with team regular Nico Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg will drive the RS18 on Tuesday, July 31, before handing it over to Markelov for the second day. Renault has now used it rookie allocated days, after using its rookies-allocated days of in-season testing, with the French team having run its reserve driver Jack Aitken alongside Carlos Sainz in the Barcelona test.
Force India’s line-up for Hungary has also been confirmed, with the team announcing it will field its reserve Nicholas Latifi on the first day and development driver Nikita Mazepin on day two.
Sergio Marchionne dies after complications from surgery
The former CEO of Ferrari’s parent company Fiat-Chrysler Sergio Marchionne has died aged sixty-six in hospital in Zurich. Marchionne resigned as CEO on Saturday, following complications from surgery.
Marchionne had been appointed as CEO in 2014, following the departure of long-standing CEO Luca di Montezemolo.
According to the news agency ANSA, Marchionne suffered a cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery in Zurich. That placed him in intensive care, where he later suffered a second, fatal cardiac arrest. It did not give the timing of any of the cardiac events.
Fiat has declined to comment on that report.
An accountant and lawyer by training, Mr Marchionne joined Fiat in 2004 after the death of its patriarch Gianni Agnelli. His biggest impact on the group was the merger in 2009, between Fiat and Chrysler which has become one of the US biggest manufacturers.
He succeeded di Montezemolo as Ferrari president in 2014 and in recent seasons F1’s most successful team have returned to title-contending form.
Marchionne became a key player in the politics of F1, following a major restructuring in 2014. He formed a powerful alliance with Daimler, who own Mercedes, to fight first Bernie Ecclestone and the sports current owners Liberty Media over the future direction of the sport.
Reaction to Marchionne’s death
Aston Martin CEO, Andy Palmer “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sergio Marchionne. On behalf of all of us at Aston Martin Lagonda, @astonmartin I would like to extend our sincere sympathies and condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles @fiat”
Italian President Sergio Mattarella said: “Marchionne wrote an important page in the history of Italian industry. As leader of Fiat, he went through years of very deep and radical transformation of markets, production systems, financial strategies and trade union relations.”
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said: “With Sergio Marchionne, Italy loses not only the most brilliant of its managers but one of the symbolic figures of our country. He represented the best of Italy.”
Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff, “This is a sad day for all of us in F1. We have a lost a huge supporter of our sport, a fierce competitor, an ally and a friend. Our heartfelt sympathies are with Sergio’s family and all at Scuderia Ferrari at this difficult time.”
Williams “We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Sergio Marchionne. On behalf of all at Williams, we would like to express our condolences to Sergio’s family, friends and Scuderia Ferrari.”
Former Ferrari team principal and FIA president Jean Todt, “It is with great sadness that I learned that Sergio Marchionne tragically and unexpectedly passed away. Sergio achieved a colossal amount for the automotive industry and motorsport worldwide.”
Force India “Today, the Formula One family has lost one of their own. We’re saddened by the passing away of Sergio Marchionne – our thoughts are with his family and friends and with all at @ScuderiaFerrari.”