Oil burning clamp down
Formula One’s Strategy Group has agreed to a plan for a renewed clamp down on oil being burned as fuel. Late last year, Red Bull asked about the possibility of teams burning oil to deliver a power boost in qualifying.
This was because it had suspicions that Mercedes had benefited the most from this, with the FIA confirmed that such activity was not allowed. In response, the governing has raised the amount of monitoring of oil usage and chemical composition of oil used by teams to ensure that no wrongdoing was taking place.
Although nothing untoward has been found, further efforts have been made to limit the scope for teams to benefit this way. The commission for 2018 has agreed on a number of changes.
The new rules say, that teams are required to supply the measurement of the oil level of its main tank to the FIA at all times of the event. With the mass of oil contained in each oil tank being declared an hour before the race start.
Active control valves between any part of the power unit and the engine intake air will be banned. Also, Teams will be limited to a single oil specification per engine at a given grand prix – which must be declared before the event gets underway.
This is to prevent the teams using a different specification of oil in qualifying for extra power, then switching to a more durable type in the race.
The three new approaches to limiting the possibility of using oil as fuel will help ease suspicions about this activity, even though it is unlikely to make any impact on Mercedes’ qualifying brilliance.
Mercedes have been adamant that their single lap pace doesn’t come because it burns oil, and says it is because of the way it maps the engine.
Sharkfins to be banned
T-wings and the shark fin engine covers are to be banned from next season, following a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and the Commission on Tuesday in Paris.
The devices have been unpopular with fans for cosmetic reasons, while in the opening three races there has been safety concerns with a number of T-wings falling from cars.
An incident where Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ran over the T-wing which fell from Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes in Bahrain is said to have cost £50,000 worth of damage.
Halo ‘given priority’ for cockpit protection
Formula One’s Strategy Group has decided to “give priority” to the Shield cockpit device, over the Halo.
The FIA have been pushing to bring in some cockpit protection, following the death of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson in 2015, which occurred after the Englishman was struck in the head by a loose piece of debris.
Both the Halo and the Aeroscreen are hotly divisive issues in the paddock, which caused the introduction of any device to be delayed until 2018. This was to give the FIA more time to weigh up the options.
In a statement, the FIA said they “aims to carry out track tests of this system during this season in preparation for implementation in 2018” on the Shield concept.
Last year, when Ferrari first ran the prototype, Lewis Hamilton called it the “worst modification in Formula One history.” Red Bull’s Aeroscreen was tested in Sochi, last year.
The Halo had remained the FIA’s favourite and they are ensuring that every driver completes at least one lap with the device on the car in order to give feedback on visibility.
Other commission changes in brief
Pirelli will be allowed to develop 2018 wet weather tyre compounds using previous specifications of cars and wheel dimensions
From Barcelona, the teams will need to make the visibility of drivers’ names and numbers on the cars will be clearer and the FIA will be enforcing it more strictly.
All teams will be invited to the Strategy Group meetings giving them access to the discussions. This is part of a commitment by the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder to improve transparency in the sport.
Difficult 2016 was key to strong start – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel says that Ferrari’s difficult season last year was crucial to their strong start this season. Last year, the team had hoped they would have been able to challenge Mercedes, but they finish third in the constructor’s championship.
The team were in crisis mid-season, with President Sergio Marchionne chaired a series of high-level crisis meetings that led to technical director James Allison leaving the team and being replaced by Mattia Binotto from Ferrari’s engine department.
Binotto’s restructuring of the technical department was to allow ideas to flow easier and promote talent within the team. Vettel says the shakeup was necessary in order to move the team forward and said the changes really started to take effect over the winter. He told ESPN “Obviously we did a massive stint over the winter [to build a competitive car].”
I think last year was a very good year for us. It wasn’t good in terms of results, don’t get me wrong, but I think for the team, getting together, a lot of things that had changed seemed to start clicking.” Vettel said the team had a strong feeling from when it started winter testing and they looked reasonably competitive.
He says the factory has come alive and the team has done a really, really great job, a lot of hard work, commitment and things start to click. Binotto has brought Enrico Cardile in from the GT programme to oversee the aerodynamic department with him chief aerodynamicist David Sanchez, who was also promoted from within.
But Binotto believes it was a change in culture that helped Ferrari make the most progress over the winter.
Front wing could solve issues with race pace
Renault believes a front wing tried in testing in Bahrain could solve the team’s issues that they have had with their race pace in the opening races of the season
Despite Nico Hulkenberg being seventh on the grid in China and Bahrain, he has only managed to convert that into points one as the team has struggled to carry there qualifying form in race trim.
Renault’s chief technical officer Bob Bell said the team understood why this was happening and had parts arriving to tackle it. Bell told Autosport “It’s pretty clear and we’re not under any illusion; we are currently qualifying better than we race and that’s a symptom of our current car performance.”
Bell says the team has understood why this happens, and they have a number of developments in aerodynamics and suspension so they are able to address this.
“We tested new parts – including a new front wing – in Bahrain designed to add more aero-performance to the car and also make it slightly more benign to engender better race pace.” He says the RS17, isn’t as well balanced as they would like on one lap pace.
He added, “The RS17 has a somewhat nervous corner entry, followed by mid-turn understeer, followed by a nervous exit making finding traction a challenge.”
“If we can address these areas, our drivers will have a very effective race car at their disposal. We believe the problems are aero related, so we’re primarily looking for the solution there.”
Alonso @ Indy – Winners all round
“It’s absolute winners all round” that Fernando Alonso is to miss Monaco to race in the Indianapolis 500, says Sky Sports and former technical director Pat Symonds.
Symonds told the network that Alonso’s decision to miss Monaco was great news for the sport and for both McLaren and the Spaniard. He Sai “I think it’s fabulous that McLaren have taken the decision to allow Fernando to go and do it.”
“I think it’s fantastic that Fernando wants to do it, that’s the old style racer, that just wants to drive things” he added. Jenson Button is due to stand in for the race, as his contract allows him to be brought in, should a race driver be unavailable.
Symonds added “I think it’s fabulous that McLaren have taken the decision to allow Fernando to go and do it, I think it’s fantastic that Fernando wants to do it, that’s the old style racer, that just wants to drive things.
He says he only sees positives as it gives Button a chance to race. Alonso is trying to win the remaining legs of the triple crown