Reporters – 05/04/2020

Features Reporters

While teams are officially shut down for the next few weeks, this period is actually turning into one of their busiest times. Eight of the teams has responded to a call by the UK government to manufacturer ventilators and in a rare moment of unity have all started working on the project…

Shutdown and lockdown makes Red Bull busier than ever

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he is “busier than ever – a lot is going on at the moment,” despite Formula One being on shut down and the UK being lockdown due to the coronavirus.

So far six races have been postponed and two cancelled due to the pandemic, and the summer break has been brought forward to allow as many races to be fit in as soon as the season starts.

Meanwhile, the UK-based teams have turned their attentions to helping out with the supply of medical equipment, and team bosses such as Horner are engaged in serious talks about how best to secure the future of the sport amid a crisis that he says is far more critical than the 2008 financial crash.

Speaking about the consortium which are building ventilators, Horner says the response from engineers and manufacturing staff to help with what is known as ‘Project Pitlane’ has been “overwhelming”.

He told, BBC News, “People like Rob Marshall, our chief designer, he has done a couple of all-nighters on this coming up with engineering solutions to issues they’ve encountered.”

“The key thing is getting these systems out there as quickly as possible. F1’s ability to problem-solve is second to none and our ability to make rapid prototype parts is again second to none.”

Horner says the sport has responded phenomenally, but he could only judge what is going on within Red Bull.

The teams are unable to share many details of their work because the project is run by the government but Horner says: “Basically, we’ve been using the engineering skill of the relevant people to problem solve and knock out a few rapid prototypes and get it to the point of sign-off.”

 

Motorsport produces a large amount of carbon, last year the FIA and F1 announced plans to be carbon neutral by 2030. However, what does that mean for circuits? Paul Ricard in France is leading the way but how can it close the “hardest” final 5%?

Paul Ricard 95% towards carbon neutrality

Paul Ricard boss Eric Boullier says the circuit is ninety-five per cent there to complete Formula One’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2030 in November as part of an increased environmental focus, as well as wishing to make all events “sustainable” by 2025.

the circuit was the second to be awarded the FIA’s Three-Star Environmental Accreditation in January, the highest level of recognition for sustainability programmes awarded by motor sport’s governing body.

Speaking to select media including Motorsport.com at the BHMSE conference in Baku, recently-appointed French Grand Prix managing director Boullier said Paul Ricard was “ahead of everybody” in F1 with its sustainability drive.

He said “I’m not saying this trying to help my ego or whatever. We recently had a forum with FOM and all the promoters, and we were presented this plan of sustainability they would like promoters to stick to and be ready for before 2030.”

Boullier says that they are looking to work towards three stars, by pushing for an electric park and ride services. They are looking at a way of collecting rainwater, following new laws to go plastic-free and monitoring the bees.

The former team principal believes that getting to ninety-five per cent is the easy part, the final five per cent was the most difficult and costly part.

One of the ideas from motorsport and technical managing director Ross Brawn was to build team hospitality units as they have at flyway races so that they don’t bring motorhomes to circuits. Boullier described it as a “good idea,” but warned the change would need time.

 

Teams working together is becoming an ever-growing trend, it keeps the smaller teams who are buying parts to save cost. What does it mean for teams like Williams? They believe their business model could be squeezed out…

Alliances threaten the independents

Williams believes that Formula One needs to “put a pin” in allowing closer alliances between teams in the future if it is to keep a full grid in the future.

A growing move towards partnerships between smaller teams and manufacturers has to lead to some of the more established private teams asking whether they should follow suit. When Haas entered the sport in 2016 they worked closely with Ferrari.

This has lead to teams like Williams and McLaren being worried about a squeeze if partnerships become a cheap way of getting success in F1. While Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams does not want to completely ban co-operations, she thinks a line should be drawn under how close some competitors are working.

She told Motorsport.com, “I think that we need to create a sustainable sport for all the teams. The work that F1 have done in recent times, particularly around the financial model, has been so important so that we can create sustainability and stability for teams like ours.”

“All business models should have the right to survive, but also thrive in this sport. That’s really important. And I wouldn’t want to see a next step with this.” Williams says that partnerships is creating a two-tier championship.

 

Why did Helmut Marko want to organise a ‘Corona Camp’ for his team’s drivers? The idea was to protect them by making them immune to the virus, but it was obviously rejected

Marko wanted to expose drivers to Coronavirus

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko wanted to organise a ‘Corona Camp’ for his team’s drivers so they would deliberately get infected with COVID-19.

The Austrian coronavirus now would help make them immune in the future when the racing season got going again. Speaking in a video interview with Austrian television station ORF, Marko said: “We have four Formula One drivers, and eight or ten juniors. The idea was to organise a camp where we could bridge this mentally and physically somewhat dead time.

“That would be the ideal time for the infection to come. believed that by exposing the drivers to These are all strong young men in really good health. That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts.” He says that its going to be a very tough season when it starts.

However, the idea didn’t go down well with others in the team and has been abandoned. Marko says now the aim rather than making them ill so they become immune, is on getting them fit and focused during this downtime.

Saying, “Max [Verstappen], for example, I think he drives more races than in a real season. He does sim racing and sometimes competes in several races per day.”

Marko says they all have their physios with them which they are using to keep fit. Even an eighteen race calendar in a reduced time frame would be very tough with no possibility of improving fitness during the season, which makes this the ideal time to improve fitness.

 

Daniel Ricciardo has taken self-isolation to a whole new level. He has stayed in Australia and retreated to his parents’ farm…  

Life on the farm with Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo has explained how he is spending his time at home on the farm – and the tractor video that got Instagram talking. The Australian has stayed in Australia amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Renault driver has certainly been doing just that on his parents’ farm.

In a video which has been viewed more than three quarters of a million times on Instagram, Ricciardo sings along to music while trundling along in a tractor.

He explained, “Dad’s livelihood is earth moving so he has driven those pretty much his whole life. That’s his business. They prepare all the land to build house, and levels and stuff like that.”

“They had a spare on the side, it’s a bit of an older one but they leave it on the farm so I can build things and be a kid. I’ll do training and whatever and then I’m not training every hour of the day when I’ve got some free time I get on that. It’s pretty fun.”

Ricciardo says that when he wasn’t training, he was watching Netflix or the stars. But training was keeping him in a competitive mindset adding, “Training is definitely the thing that’s keeping me with that competitive mindset. You get some anger out when you train so that’s my medicine for now.”

Like many in the sport, drivers are working towards an unknown start point for activities to resume – with all Grands Prix called off until mid-June at the earliest. He admitted the extended wait for racing was starting to hit home.

On Monaco’s cancellation, he said, “I watched on an on-board of Monaco last night and got a little sad. They’re all going to hurt, Melbourne, of course, being so close. But we’ll get it back.”

When the season does get underway, it will be at least seven months without a race, Ricciardo predicted “mayhem” in that qualifying session.

 

And that’s all from Reporters, goodbye

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.