Ricciardo faces make or break decision
Daniel Ricciardo says he believes that his next contract in Formula One could “make or break” his hopes of winning a world championship. Ricciardo is yet to sign a new deal with Red Bull for beyond this season, saying he wants more time to assess his options.
At the end of this year, many top drivers are out of contract which could see many changes in driver lineups. This means the Australian believes he has years left in the sport, his next contract will be the most important of his career.
He told Motorsport.com “I’ve still got years in this sport, but I’m not 23/24 anymore. I’m still learning. I don’t feel I’m past my peak. The next contract I sign or next extension I do, they are potentially the peak years of my career.”
“That next bit of paper I sign could make or break my desire in terms of whether I can fight for a title or not. That’s why I’m taking my time, I want to see where everyone is at. Maybe I’ll have more options, maybe I won’t.” Ricciardo made it clear that he wants a long-term deal, but that deal needs to be somewhere which is competitive.
He has been part of the Red Bull programme for a decade, making his debut with HRT in July 2011 and then joining Toro Rosso. He was promoted to Red Bull in 2014 when Mark Webber retired.
He added “I’ve still got relationships outside of the Red Bull, and that’s cool. Whether I was to stay at Red Bull the rest of my career, or eventually move on.”
“I would still keep close to a lot of the people within the family. It’s been a big part of my life, I’d never walk away from it and think ‘OK, that’s the past’, and completely forget about it.”
Sainz and Hulkenberg made massive difference to Renault
Renault’s chassis technical director Nick Chester says that Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz’s recruitment to join the team has made a “massive difference” to the team.
Hulkenberg joined the team at the end of 2016 replacing Kevin Magnussen and soon started out scoring teammate Jolyon Palmer. Palmer was later dropped from the team in favour of Sainz. Chester said Hulkenberg’s main contribution had been to give Renault a dependable reference, and that Sainz had multiplied that effect.
He told Autosport “It is massively important. The really great thing about Nico is that he is really consistent, he is really quick, and he tells you exactly where the problems are that are slowing him down”
“He says, ‘this is the most important thing for me, if you work on this I will go quicker’ and then you don’t need to worry about a whole load of other stuff. So in terms of prioritising what you do, it is super important.”
“Carlos is pretty much the same. He has got really good feedback and is quick, so with the two of them we have got some really good information to work with.”
Hulkenberg is yet to finish the podium in his career and he hadn’t joined a works team before Renault. Sainz was released early from his Toro Rosso deal. With him qualified and finished seventh on his Renault debut at Austin, Chester said that Sainz “liked the car straight away.”
“He could feel it had more grip and downforce, a slightly different balance to what he is used to, but he is obviously very good and he adapted to it pretty quickly.”
McLarens expectation based on hopes
Fernando Alonso says that for the first time in three years that McLaren’s expectations for the season ahead are based on fact rather than hope.
After three difficult seasons with an unreliable and underperforming Honda engine, the team have made the switch to Renault power in 2018 with the aim of returning to the podium for the first time since 2014.
Every season, McLaren were trying to be positive but as soon as testing begun there hopes were dashed by f reliability issues and a clear deficit in power to rival teams.
After witnessing all three pre-season’s with Honda, Alonso says the mood in Woking is completely different ahead of the 2018 season.
Speaking to ESPN, Alonso says the team are very confident. Saying “I think at McLaren we have made a few changes for this year, the most obvious being the power unit with the Renault, which I think is quite a high motivation now in the team.”
“The mood for all of us is quite different this year compared to the last three years. We always had expectations that the season could be a good one for us.” Alonso says that the hopes for 2018 are based on more facts than in previous years.
He says the team would like to be fighting for podiums and wins. McLaren executive director Zak Brown is also confident ahead of the new season, revealing that the MCL33 passed its crash tests last week.
Speaking about his hopes, Brown said “All the simulation we are doing is where we want to be over last year. Sometimes it works in simulation and doesn’t work when it hits the race track, but it did [work] more often than not last year, so I think we’re going to be in for a strong season.”
Grid girls dropped for 2018
Liberty Media has announced that Formula One will stop using grid girls from the season-opening race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix. In December, motorsport managing director Ross Brawn told BBC News that the use of female promotional models was “under review”.
In a statement on F1.com, commercial director Sean Bratches said “While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 grands prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.”
“We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.” Last week the Professional Darts Corporation said walk-on girls will no longer be used at events.
The role of the grid had been to hold grid numbers and flags before the races. But in recent years the practice has been under scrutiny, the World Endurance Championship abandoned the practice in 2015.
A Formula One statement said the time on the grid ahead of the race would be used “as one of celebration, where guests and various performers can add to the glamour and spectacle of the grand prix, enabling promoters and partners to showcase their countries and products.”
Amazon gives preview of McLaren documentary
A trailer for a new Amazon documentary behind the scenes of McLaren has revealed that the team had genuine fears that Fernando Alonso would quit on the eve of last season and that risked the “collapse” of the team.
In a preview of ‘Grand Prix’ which followed the season of the British team, it shows McLaren bosses Eric Boullier and Jonathan Neale discuss how the team can move forward following the test.
Speaking about a planned dinner that Boullier was going to have with Alonso, the Frenchman expresses genuine fears that the Spaniard could walk away in light of Honda’s woes.
“He is going to say: ‘You know what guys? Ciao bello’,” says Boullier. “He will not stay. I am a 100 percent certain he will not stay…”
Speaking to the camera later, Boullier added: “After this testing, Fernando is quite pissed off. He is clearly saying I may reconsider my position to race because I’m not going to survive another year like this.
“My main worry at this time is not to have the team collapsing. I know the domino effect as well, you know. I mean, in this business you know how it works…when you are weak, people they come, they just poach who they want. It takes years to build an F1 team but you can kill it in six months.”
Later in the preview Neale is shown briefing staff about the first test and the episode Neale says “A line has been crossed. We are done. We’ve done that experiment about just trusting what is going to happen.”
“So we need to find a new way, we need to find a new plan. McLaren will not travel hopefully during the course of this season.” Grand Prix Driver was given exclusive access to the team and the challenges faced when car build ran behind schedule, and when Honda’s engine fitting proved troublesome for the MCL32.
The documentary will also look at the competitive nature of Alonso. Alonso says at one point says “”I used to race with my grandmother back to my home. We exit the school and I knew it was maybe eight hundred metres to home, so four minutes or five minutes.
“And I had like two split times – one in a bridge and one in a junction that we had. I had to be 1m50s more or less in the bridge and then 3m15s in the traffic lights and things like that. So I’m used to calculating all my life because I have to win.”
Grand Prix Driver will premiere on Friday 9th February on Amazon Prime Video