Reporters – 03/12/2017

Features Reporters

They have been off the grid for thirty years, but this week following Sauber’s new deal with Ferrari it was announced the team would expand that and call the power units Alfa Romeo. But what does it mean for Sauber and Fiat which owns both Ferrari and Alfa?

Sauber announces technical deal with Alfa Romeo

Sauber has announced they have reached a multiyear technical and commercial deal with the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo from 2018. Alfa who are part of the same group as Ferrari will be the team’s title sponsor from next season.

However, Ferrari will continue to supply the Swiss team’s power units badged as Alfa Romeo. Since Fiat-Chrysler and Ferrari president, Sergio Marchionne took over as the company’s president he has made it clear he wanted to get Alfa back on the grid.

The deal between the two has been called a ‘strategic, commercial and technological cooperation between Alfa Romeo and Sauber.

When Sauber’s team principal Fred Vasseur announced the team would retaining Ferrari power units despite a deal with Honda, he said the cancelling the deal was “for strategic reasons, and with the best intent or the future of the Sauber F1 Team in mind.”

The deal will be seen important for the team’s bid to move further up the grid. This year Sauber expanded its partnership with Ferrari, which will see the team return to a current power unit next year.

Sauber was brought by the Swiss group, Longbow Finance in mid-2016. They then removed Monisha Kaltenborn in July and replaced as team principal her with Vasseur.

Sauber’s chairman Pascal Picci said “”We are very pleased to welcome Alfa Romeo to the Sauber F1 Team. Alfa Romeo has a long history of success in Grand Prix racing.”

Alfa Romeo won the first two drivers championships with Nino Farina and Juan-Manuel Fangio respectively in 1950-51. After pulling out, Alfa Romeo returned in 1979 but struggled for results over six seasons.

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A long-standing problem is how you can get women into Formula One. However, why does Toto Wolff say the idea for a women’s only series underminds the chances of Women getting into F1?

Woman’s only series underminds women

Mercedes boss Toto Wolf says that plans for a woman’s single-seater championship would “undermine” the prospects for women to make it into Formula One.

Proposals have been drawn up by a London company, to stage a women’s series of six races, with the champion, promised a Formula One test drive.

Motoracing is the biggest sport in the world which does not have an alternative for women to race in standalone events. It has been more than 40 years since a woman entered a Formula One race when  Lella Lombardi qualified at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix.

The group behind the proposal, which was circulated earlier this year, hope the series will offer women the chance to showcase their talents, but Wolff fears it could do the opposite.

Wolff told the Press Association “An all-women championship is giving up on the mission of eventually making girls compete on a high level and against the boys in Formula One. It is undermining what girls are able to achieve.”

“When a sport comes down to physical power, then it definitely needs to be split between men and women, but motor racing is a little bit like horse riding where we fight with the same tools. I believe that motor racing is a sport where women can take on men.”

Wolff is married to the former Williams driver Susie Wolff who was the last women to drive at a Grand Prix weekend. As well as her ambassadorial role with the team, she also runs the Dare To Be Different campaign which inspires female participation in motorsport.

“What we lack is more girls in karting,” Wolff said. “If you look at 100 kids there will be three girls. Susie’s movement is out there to encourage more girls to start karting so the ratio changes from three in one hundred to 20:80.

A number of women have been approached by organisers about the series, but some are understood to be sceptical and believe a single-gender championship may compromise their position within the industry.

 

Liberty Media has suggested that nonperformance related parts should be standardized in a bid to reduce costs. However, that has caused outrage by three of the four manufacturers have expressed concerns. But what does a customer team think?

Szafnauer questions standard parts

Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer has questioned the move towards the standardisation of some parts of the engines. The plans are for louder and simpler engines, as well standardising some parts and restrictions on other developments.

However, Szafnauer believes that even if some parts are standardised that will not stop the manufacturers from seeking a competitive advantage by building a better engine. Speaking to Autosport, Szafnauer said “We’ve got to make sure that the formula has different aspects of performance. What we can’t do is dumb down the powertrain to a point where they’re all the same, or marginally the same.”

“Why remove the powertrain challenge from F1? I don’t get it. We can spend 100million on a driver for three years or whatever the figure is – why would we spend 100million on a driver? The only reason is because you get an advantage.”

Szafnauer added that the sport is a driver formula and spending millions on aero development, saying the sport “should also be an engine formula. It should be driver, it should be aero, and it should be engine.”

Adding that if you remove the engine differentiator the other two factors become more valuable. He also pointed out that the recent discussions did not cover the potential costs of power units in 2021 to customer teams like Force India.

 

Kevin Magnussen is a driver who can prove controversial on track earning himself a bad boy racer title because of the aggressive tactics. But how does he bounce back and does he care?

‘Bad boy’ Magnussen a joke at Haas

Haas’s Kevin Magnussen says his reputation as Formula One’s ‘bad boy’ has become a joke within the team. Magnussen’s use of aggressive tactics this year has caused controversy throughout the season.

One exchange following his battle with Nico Hulkenberg has become famous, after telling the Renault driver to “suck his balls” after their clash in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Asked by Autosport, about the reputation he is developing, Magnussen replied: “I don’t mind. A lot of drivers have complained about me, but this has perhaps created a little bit of a joke in the team. I wouldn’t say I am the most popular driver among the drivers, but I don’t need to be.”

The Dane says that all that matters to him was the results and views of the stewards are what mattered. He pointed out he has had only a single any penalty this season for his driving.

Pushed on whether he had any driver friends in the paddock, he said “In the paddock yes. But amongst the drivers, I don’t have friends at all. They are not my friends. It would never work to have a friendship, so I don’t make any effort to make friends.”

Magnussen says that he feels fairly immune from criticism and that deliberately steering clear of social media helped this.

 

The Netherlands has become a target for Liberty Media with the rise of Max Verstappen. But can the Dutch Grand Prix make a comeback after thirty years? And can it be viable?

Zandvoort could hold F1 in 2020

One of the owners of Zandvoort says that the circuit could realistically host the Dutch Grand Prix from 2020. Last week, the circuit completed a feasibility study about the possibility of the race returning on behalf of the local government.

The study evaluated the organisational and logistical requirements of holding a grand prix, as well as what the financial benefits would be. Zandvoort’s last Dutch Grand Prix was held in 1985.

The circuit’s co-owner Bernhard van Oranje said the study was carried to support “a hunch” – which he claims has been validated. Van Oranje told Motorsport.com “I believe Liberty Media is looking for a way to make the sport attractive and I think they know what they need to do.

“In my opinion, an ‘old-school’ race track belongs on the calendar, where if you run off the track you will hit the gravel. Zandvoort is challenging track and therefore fun to drive and for fans fun to watch. So, I believe the track fits in their [F1 owners’] strategy.”

However, the circuit only has a grade two licence meaning it is not licenced or up to Formula One standards, with the estimated cost of bringing it up to that standard being an estimated £8.86 million.

In the summer, race director Charlie Whiting made an ‘unofficial visit’ to suggest changes, including a longer pit lane and bigger paddock. The next step would be finding the money from government and business.

Van Oranje added “If that’s positive, we’ll sit together to see what is possible and take the return on investment into account. The next step is to see what kind of demands there are and at some point, you need to acquire a spot on the calendar.”

Liberty wanted a street race, however, officials in Amsterdam and Rotterdam have ruled out the possibility of hosting races in those cities.

 

That’s all from Reporters for this week

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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