Over simple to blame Ferrari’s management – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it would be “oversimplification” to suggest that the strict management by Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne contributed to the team’s title challenge collapsing.
Marchionne was outspoken throughout the season and criticised the criticising the team for its reliability troubles and calling Kimi Raikkonen a “laggard”.
Asked if he felt Mercedes benefited from the Ferrari president’s bluntness towards his employees, Wolff acknowledged the differences in team management styles but played down their effect.
He told Motorsport.com “Pressure can make a diamond, but pressure can also make a pipe burst. Sergio Marchionne is one of the most successful businessmen that I have ever met, and somebody that has one of the sharpest minds I have ever seen operating.”
“So far it [Ferrari’s style] works for him and I don’t think you can reduce Ferrari’s 2017 season or the end of the 2017 season campaign, to pressure that was applied. I think this is oversimplification.” Wolff says that Mercedes have been trying to avoid blame culture and create an environment where everyone can speak up.
Adding “We have a motto that is ‘see it, say it, fix it’ which means that you have to create a safe environment for everybody to speak up. You need to be able to improve as a part of the team.”
Daytona 24 Hours – Alonso forced to retire
Fernando Alonso was forced to retire in the final two hours of the twenty-four hours of Daytona. However was already out of the race because of a break failure in the tenth hour, causing him to lose forty minutes and saw his United Autosports team drop forty laps behind.
Alonso told the press “It happened two times in the first corner – you’re right there at 300-310 kilometres an hour then you hit the brakes and there’s no brakes. … At night, you don’t see clearly the tyre wall or the escape road, so there was even a little more of a scare.”
Alonso never had high hopes of winning the race as it was really about him getting a taster of endurance racing. But the Spaniard did run tenth in the early stages before a tyre issue in the eighth hour, but he only lost two places.
Williams Lance Stroll team had run fourth, but then his Jackie Chan DCR Oreca LMP2 also suffered a myriad of mechanical issues and was running 15th heading into the final hour. He said “I felt good in car. I was really enjoying myself driving it in night, trying to stay focused when it was raining. It was very challenging and unexpected.”
The race was won by Filipe Albuquerque in the Action Express Cadillac.
Monte Carlo Rally – Sainz reflects on debut
Carlos Sainz Jr made his debut in Rallying on Sunday completing the power stage of the Monte Carlo Rally.
The Renault driver completed the power stage between La Cabanette-Col de Braus power stage behind the wheel of a Renault Megane R.S., the designated course car for the rally, calling it an “awesome experience”.
He told Motorsport.com “It was a dream come true to drive over the Turini with three or four kilometres of ice,” he said. “Coming up the hill on the Turini stage, I was looking and waiting, then my co-driver said, ‘the col is coming’.”
“We came through the right and left and over the top: there it was. Suddenly so many memories came to my mind. The atmosphere was incredible, but it was hard to take it all in.”
Sainz Jr says he wants to enter more rallies in the future, but will not be back in racing action until the season opener in Melbourne in March.
Channel four and Sky confirm spilt
Channel 4 and Sky Sports have announced the way they will spilt the TV rights for the 2018 season. Under a seven-year deal reached in 2011 with the BBC, half the races will be shown live on free to air TV but it will be the last time as Sky will have exclusive live rights from 2019.
Sky will show elven races live including the season opener in Australian and China. Channel 4 will show the Bahrain and Azerbaijan races live for the third consecutive year, with Monaco for the second consecutive year. The return of the French and German Grand Prix’s will be exclusive to Sky.
The British and Belgian Grand Prix retains free to air coverage for the seventh consecutive year. Channel 4 will show there first early race with the Japanese Grand Prix in October, though that will should be with extended highlights of qualifying and the race.
Channel 4 will show delayed highlights of the 11 races it is not broadcasting live. This may be the final year of Channel 4’s three-year F1 broadcast deal, with the championship to be shown exclusively live on Sky from next season.
The BBC will continue to broadcast every race live on Radio, either BBC Radio 5 Live or 5 Live Sports Extra and on BBC iPlayer Radio until 2021.
Exclusively live on Sky – Australian, Chinese, Spanish, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Russian, Mexican, Brazilian
Live on Channel – Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Monaco, Austrian, British, Belgian, Singapore, Japanese, United States, Abu Dhabi.
Pirelli expects lots of track evolution in testing
Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola expects there will a lot of track evolution during the first two days of pre-season testing following resurfacing work at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya.
Earlier this month the owners of the circuit agreed to carry out modifications with motorcycling’s governing body FIM, so they can retain the Catalan Grand Prix. Work is underway to resurface the whole circuit and extend the run off at Europcar.
Once the work is finished Pirelli is planning to send a couple of engineers to the circuit to gather data. Speaking to Autosport, Isola said “They [circuit officials] told me that the target is to make a Tarmac that is similar in terms of roughness to the old one. It is clear that it is not possible to have a new surface that is exactly the same, but that was the target.”
“Usually we measure the Tarmac roughness on Wednesday before each event. The idea is that next week we send a couple of engineers to measure it to compare the old one with the new one.” He added that the circuit is planning to run many cars before testing that should help with deciding compounds for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Isola suggested that they may need to reconsider the compounds because of the resurfacing. Saying that when Formula Two held its Japanese Grand Prix at Jerez, “Before the race we sent the engineers to measure the roughness, it was completely different, much smoother. We moved the allocation one step softer and it was not enough. Tarmac can make a big difference.”
Renault announce launch plans
Renault has announced it will be launching their 2018 car the RS18 online on Tuesday 20th February, the same day as Sauber. The French manufacturer is entering its third season as a works team following the buyout of Lotus in 2015.
The team has chosen Carlos Sainz to join Nico Hulkenberg in its driver line-up for 2018, as it targets moving up from its sixth-placed finish in last year’s constructors’ championship. It has also appointed former FIA technical director Marcin Budkowski to the team.
Managing director for F1 Cyril Abiteboul has confidence that the manufacturer will see the results of its recent investment and infrastructure changes pay off.
He said “We have a big job to accomplish and as far as I can see we are aligned with that. The infrastructure is coming up, people are coming up, the commercial side – I know it is not super exciting, but it is also important to be able to finance that.”
Sauber announce launch plans
Sauber has announced it also will launch it 2018 car online from its base in Hinwill on Tuesday 20th February.
The announcement from the team also revealed parts of the team’s new logo, the team are switching to red after a tie-up with Alfa Romeo. Alfa has become the team’s title sponsor for the 2018 season, the team has revealed a show car with the Italian manufacturer’s colours at the end of last year.
The Swiss team will retain Marcus Ericsson for the upcoming season, with Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc joining him in the driver line-up.