Red Bull target first Honda win by summer break
Honda has set themselves the target of giving Red Bull there first Honda-powered victory in Formula One by the summer break. The Japanese manufacturer scored its first podium of the V6 hybrid era in Melbourne and now has set its sights on its first win since Budapest in 2006.
Speaking to Motorsport.com during the Australian GP weekend, Honda F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto said: “This is a very important year for us because we’ve started with two teams for the first time in the hybrid era. Now we have a situation that we can try to express how Honda tries to win.”
“We hope to make it come true, maybe by around the summer. Hopefully, we wish to. We have now a chance to show our philosophy towards winning.” Both Honda and Red Bull believe that Max Verstappen’s third-place helped them to “relax” into the new partnership.
It is expected that the Monaco Grand Prix represents the best possible chance for the partnerships first victory, where Red Bull took victory last year. But, Bahrain represents another opportunity for a strong result following Toro Rosso’s fourth place last year it fails to match it in the rest of the season.
Yamamoto says they are not trying to lower expectations, but it’s the result which matters. Adding “Our honest feeling is that we haven’t reached the level of Ferrari and Mercedes as a PU. We have to go beyond [the current level].”
As well as targeting wins for Red Bull, Honda is hoping that sister team Toro Rosso can become a regular midfield team. He said “We think we are on the way of improving. Something like a podium, or closer to those positions with Toro Rosso, we can show our progress.”
Gasly worried about tyre temperatures
Pierre Gasly believes that drivers are going to have a tougher time racing when they re-join races after there pit stops in cooler races because of new limits on tyre blanket temperatures.
For 2019, the maximum temperate that rear tyres can be heated has been lowered from 100-degrees Centigrade to 80-degrees C. During Barcelona testing drivers struggled with temperatures in the tyres and that was noticeable in the Australian Grand Prix that drivers had more of a headache on their out-laps.
Gasly lost the chance of points when he was overtaken by Daniil Kvyat on a lap out of the pits as he struggled to get his tyres up to temperature.
Asked by Motorsport.com if Kvyat got him because his tyres were too cold, Gasly said: “Yeah, basically I braked, and I could feel already in Turn 1 I almost locked up. Then coming into Turn 3 I tried to brake later, and I locked a bit the front. I think warmer tyres helped him [Kvyat] make the move.”
With drivers struggling on a warm day, the Frenchman has expressed concerns that on cooler days could especially be trickery. He says that there is a clear impact which he could feel as he left the box, and believes it’s not going to be easy in Bahrain.
But not all drivers were convinced it had made that much of an impact. Lewis Hamilton said that his Mercedes had not felt too bad when it came out of the pits.
He says “The out-lap wasn’t a problem. The tyres, in general, operate quite well in that region. Probably the blanket temperatures we used to have in the past were too high anyway.”
Renault “determined to show more”
Renault will bring more upgrades to the Bahrain Grand Prix, as the team are “determined to show more” as they look towards the top of the midfield pack.
Although Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh in Melbourne, the French manufacturer was well off the pace in qualifying and Daniel Ricciardo retired from his home race. This weekend the team will be looking for a big improvement in the Bahraini desert.
Speaking to Sky Sports, F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said “We have to underline the step we’ve made on the engine side, and the second Grand Prix of 2019 is an opportunity to showcase that.”
“We will bring some aero updates, as we will do at every race. Having both cars inside the points is the target and we want to show the qualities of our team. We have to be hard on ourselves if we’re to keep on our path.”
Renault is currently fifth in the constructor’s championship, nine points behind Ricciardo’s former team, Red Bull. Ricciardo is “keen to put Australia to one side”, calling it “a pretty frustrating weekend overall.”
“I’ve had a bit of rest and recovery between these two race weekends, so I head to Bahrain feeling recharged. It’s a circuit I’ve always enjoyed racing at,” said Ricciardo.
He is hoping that in qualifying the team can be in the top end of the midfield.
His teammate, Nico Hulkenberg is also looking forward to returning to Bahrain the circuit where he made his debut in 2010. He Added “There’s a lot more work we can do to improve. We know that, and we have to keep the developments coming if we’re to edge away from the midfield group.”
Schumacher not thinking about first test
Mick Schumacher says he is trying to put thoughts of his first test out of his mind ahead of his Formula Two debut at this weekends Bahrain Grand Prix.
The son of seven times champion Michael will drive for Ferrari, where his father won five of his seven titles, on Tuesday before switching to Alfa Romeo on Wednesday. It has also been reported that there is a plan for Schumacher’s first run in a contemporary F1 car on Monday.
This weekend, reigning Formula 3 European champion Schumacher will contest his first F2 races with the Prema team in Sakhir. Speaking about the test, he told Motorsport.com, “I am really looking forward to what I’m sure will be a great experience.”
“But for the moment, I am consciously putting all thoughts of the test to one side, because I am also very much looking forward to competing in my first F2 race and would like to focus 100% on the weekend to come.” Schumacher formally joined Ferrari’s Academy over the winter.
Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto believes the tests for both Schumacher and Callum Ilott were further proof of Ferrari’s focus on young talent, following Leclerc’s promotion to the main team for the 2019 season after his rookie campaign with Sauber.
“We are firm believers in the value of the Ferrari Driver Academy as a high-level training programme for talented youngsters and the decision to give Charles Leclerc a race seat with our team is proof of that,” said Binotto.
He believes that both drivers are on there way up and that the official test could be very useful at this stage in their careers.
Ferrari expects “corrections” to show
Ferrari says they expect “corrections” to their performance to show at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The Italian manufacturer was surprisingly off the pace in Melbourne, despite them going into the weekend as favourites following a strong winter testing.
Both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc both complained that they did not have the same grip and confidence in Australia that they enjoyed during testing in Spain. In the team’s preview for this weekend’s race, team boss Mattia Binotto said it was important to strike back in the second round of a “very long and demanding season”.
“The Sakhir circuit has very different characteristics to the Australian one, with traction and braking being key factors. In Bahrain, as a team, we will have to ensure that we have understood and rectified the areas where we were weak in Australia, which therefore meant we were unable to fully exploit our car’s potential.”
He says they are expecting to see how the corrections work but says the team are well aware that their rivals would be strong again. Binotto is keen then “to get back on track and face up to them.”
The team are looking to ensure that Melbourne was the “expectation,” they head to Sakhir knowing that Vettel won the last two races. This should give Ferrari the ideal chance to prove its race-one struggles were specific to Australia.
However, Vettel said the challenges of the desert night race could not be underestimated. he said, “It is hard to find the right rhythm in the desert, mainly because of the sand that the wind blows onto the track. Therefore every lap is different, which can be a decisive factor, especially in qualifying.”
FIA to place stricter oil burning limits
The FIA has announced plans for an even stricter clamp down on oil burning for 2020, in a bid to stop teams from gaining performance from the activity.
Since the V6 turbo hybrid engines were introduced, some manufacturers have tried to find ways to boost power through burning oil rather than petrol. The FIA quickly cottoned on to what the engine makers were up to, and have made several moves over the years to limit the activity.
Teams currently have to operate with a strict limit of oil consumption of 0.6 litres per 100km, while for 2019 further rules were introduced to prevent teams exploiting oil burn in qualifying.
Also, teams are no longer allowed to add or transfer oil from an auxiliary oil tank to any part of the lubrication system during qualifying.
However, the governing body is continuing to push to reduce. It further to 0.3 litres per 100km. Teams were notified of this change over the winter.
The FIA’s head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis says the governing body is clear that any use by teams of oil burn as a way of boosting performance is not acceptable.
he told Motorsport.com, “The question of oil is simple. The regulation states that the only fuel that can be burned is petrol, so the oil must be just a lubricant.”
“We intervened and reduced consumption to 0.6 kg per 100 km, but in anticipation of next year we want to drop even further.”
Ecclestone plots possible breakaway
F1 chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone has told RaceFans that two F1 bosses have recently discussed the possibility of forming a breakaway series. However the former CEO and team principal doubt that the idea has a chance of success.
Ecclestone says he met with Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff and Lawrence Stroll, who took over the Racing Point team last year, met with Ecclestone at his home in Gstaad, Switzerland during testing. Also attending was former Ferrari president and current chairman of the airline Alitalia, Luca di Montezemolo.
No other teams attended.
The news comes on the day of a key meeting between the teams, Liberty Media and the FIA where there try to resolve the future direction of the sport. News on is not expected the meeting until very late on Tuesday or on Wednesday morning.
The threat of a rival, breakaway series could give the teams leverage in their negotiations with Liberty Media. However, Ecclestone, who saw off several such threats during his time in charge of the sport, told RaceFans “I don’t think it would ever happen”.
“I can’t see they’d get everyone to agree. They’d need to get all the promoters to agree, everyone to agree. The trouble with all these things are people sit around and talk and talk and talk. But when it comes to pulling the trigger there’s a big list of missing people.”
A Racing Point spokesperson said: “There was a meeting of old friends for dinner in Gstaad. These suggestions of a breakaway series are nonsense.”