After a difficult 2015 when Renault was expecting another difficult season on track last season. So three victories from Red Bull shows their progress off track, but why?
Renault surprised by 2016 gains
Renault’s engine boss Remi Taffin says that the French manufacturer was surprised with the gains they made last season. Renault had a difficult time since the introduction of the V6 hybrids in 2014.
Last season following investment the Renault power unit made a solid start to the season and upgrades during the season brought more gains, allowing Red Bull to have a few victories. But it was a difficult season for the works team who finished well behind the other manufacturer teams.
Speaking to Autosport Taffin said “We’re sort of surprised that things have changed but we are now in a normal situation, so we should not be surprised. We’ve actually improved the product, it’s reliable and we can work on it and get the most out of it.”
The Frenchman says that their reliability was a cornerstone of the teams season, which allowed those back at its base in Viry to push for performance. “It has allowed most of the people back in Viry to have a free mind, be creative and go forwards. It’s opposite to looking what’s going to happen tomorrow, we can look a bit further forward.” He said.
Taffin says the boost in form has inspired confidence to return to staff.
With major regulation changes this year, it’s natural that fans and the media to speculate over the running order. But, why does Kimi Raikkonen believe it’s pointless?
Speculating over order pointless – Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen says speculating about the running order amid this year’s pecking order is “pointless”, with the regulation changes. New technical regulations mean that cars will look very different, with wider wings and bigger tyres.
These changes are huge for the sport, with Raikkonen feeling judging who will come out on top is tricky as it is impossible for teams to know what their rivals are doing. He told Autosport “We will know once we get the new cars and hit the track as obviously there’s a lot of rule changes so we have to wait and see.
“It’s pointless to speculate with such a big change, so hopefully we are where we want to be and deserve to be.” He added. Last season having aimed to be the closest rival to Mercedes on track, Ferrari struggled to be fighting for wins and falling to third behind Red Bull in the constructors.
Raikkonen said “It was far from an ideal year from all of us but this is how racing goes. It doesn’t matter if it’s better or not the end result is obviously far from what we as Ferrari, as a team, wanted.”
“We did good races and not so good races and there were too many small issues but that’s what happens in racing sometimes” he added. Raikkonen says he thinks that podium in Abu Dhabi, bodes well for 2017.
Ford are one of the world’s biggest car manufacturer, but why would it not be interested in returning to F1 and what would tempt them into entering the sport?
Ford turned off by costs
American car manufacturer Ford says that the huge turnoff about not showing interest in returning to Formula One is the huge cost involved. The takeover of the sport by Liberty Media has prompted hopes that sport could attract more manufacturers.
The FIA are hoping that over the coming months that a number of manufacturers which are not currently in the sport can have a part to play in discussions being planned over the next few months to frame engine rules for post-2020.
Under the Concorde Agreement which runs until 2020, the V6 turbo hybrid formula will remain in place until 2020 at the earliest, but things are totally open beyond that. Meaning a decision needs to be taken about whether to extend the use of the current engines or switch to a totally different concept.
This could open up interest to other manufacturers, But Ford says that it sees little benefit from getting involved when the costs of involvement are so high.
Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance, told Motorsport.com: “We’re not really looking at F1. I don’t see us getting into that anytime soon. Formula 1 is so expensive.”
“If you look at every series we are in right now there is a relevance to all the goals and objectives we have, in developing our tools, technology and people and translating that into road cars. Every series that we’re in has an element of that.” Pericak appears to say Ford has no interest in racing which isn’t ‘road relevant.’
He says “We use the track to test and improve our technologies and bring it back into the road cars. That’s working well, not just on the GT but other products as well.”
Liberty wants to make major changes to Formula One to make it more exciting following their takeover of the sport. But, why has the FIA President Jean Todt warned against radical change?
Todt warns against radical changes
FIA President Jean Todt has warned Formula One’s new owners against making radical changes to the sport. Liberty has already removed Bernie Ecclestone in a coup, with a new management structure at the top of the sport.
New sporting director and Todt’s former colleague Ross Brawn, has already outlined his vision for the future. But Todt says that no major changes are needed, saying the new regulations for 2017 should be given a chance and that the recent domination by Mercedes is nothing unusual.
He told the Sports Business Summit in Dusseldorf, “I think, for me, Formula One is great. The championship we enjoyed last year was a fight until the last corner. I think it would be the wrong message [to suggest F1 needs to be made much better].”
“We need to have a sport which is unpredictable. Maybe sometimes people complain that the domination of Mercedes over the last years maybe creates some disinterest, but it is part of the history of Formula One.” He said the sport being dominated by one team is part of the history of the sport.
Adding “If you want to stop the domination you need to be better. We need to congratulate Mercedes and hope that the others will be able to do something even better.”
Asked about Liberty, he said he thinks they will allow different access via different means of communication, which may encourage new fans. Todt adds the FIA “will sit as a regulator and legislator of Formula One, with the new people and with the teams to see what should be the vision for the future to make the sport better.”
Drivers want a safer sport. But why is a device aimed at protecting drivers heads from debris causing so much division?
Drivers split 50/50 on Halo
The FIA say that feedback from drivers who have tried the halo cockpit protection device is “divided 50/50”. The sport’s governing body has been working on approving a concept that will deflect debris away from drivers’ heads in accidents.
Currently, the halo device is the only idea that has in the past all the required crash tests but still requires formal approvement from the majority of teams by the end of April. After that date, unanimity is required.
Yesterday the FIA reviled that the Halo has received a lukewarm feedback, with suggestions that it the Halo is now set to be abandoned; the FIA insists that efforts are still ongoing to make it work.
Today the trade union which represents most drivers says it welcomes the governing body efforts.
Chairman Alex Wurz told Motorsport.com “Any team or driver that says the halo won’t happen in 2018 is wrong, although technically the strategy group agreed to ‘additional frontal protection’ for 2018, and the halo is the only suitable design at present.”
The FIA is continuing to analyse whether alternative solutions are possible.
He added, “I am encouraged by the fact the FIA and F1 stakeholders are including the drivers into the decision-making process, something which has emerged in recent times as a positive.”
That’s all from Reporters, for this week, goodbye!