Reporters – 06/10/2019

Features Reporters

As the battle four fourth place between McLaren and Renault heats up, the relationship becomes difficult. For a works team in a close battle with a customer team, it can put them in an “awkward situation” as Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul explains

Renault “awkward” McLaren fight

Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says fighting customer team McLaren is an “awkward situation.” Drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg earned fourth and fifth places in the last race at Monza.

In the two races since the summer break, the team has made a net gain of twenty-five points on fourth-placed McLaren, leaving the current gap at eighteen points with seven races still to run. Abiteboul believes that Renault has the better overall package and will able to close the gap by making the most of weekends where it has an advantage over the Woking outfit.

Abiteboul told, “It’s a bit of an awkward situation, but clearly McLaren’s resurrection is also due to a combination of a resurgence on the power unit side and on the chassis side.”

“I think they have a better chassis in certain conditions, we have a better car overall and a better chassis in the other conditions. That’s a fact, so I think it’s going to be about track characteristics and who is capable of seizing the opportunity offered by the track.”

He added that the target of fourth place in the constructors remains Renault’s target, which looks like an achievable target, and that’s what we are focussing on. He says that they need to keep working on the achievable target.


Since that report was filled McLaren announced they announced they would return to Mercedes engines in 2021. Lewis Hamilton is one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport, as he heads to his sixth world title why does he believe he is more a team player?

Hamilton believes he’s more a team player

Lewis Hamilton believes he has become “more of a team player” compared to when he was younger. Speaking to the media the five-times champion says that his understanding of how to approach grand prix racing and how much risk to take has changed over the years.

Asked about how he how different his position is to drivers like Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who have nothing to lose in title terms, he said “When you’re slightly further back, you’re willing to take a little bit more risk to gain one extra position, and when you’re in the lead, you’re thinking long-term.”

“When you’re slightly further back, you’re willing to take a little bit more risk to gain one extra position, and when you’re in the lead, you’re thinking long-term.”

“It’s a subtle difference, but also when you’re younger, you care less in general, you know? Your perceptions are different when you’re younger to when we’re all older.”

Compared to when he was twenty-one he believes he is more focused on the teams result rather than being selfish and going for the extra points. Admitting while he wants that extra point, it comes at a cost of potentially losing the team the constructors’ championship.

Hamilton says a better understanding of ‘you can’t win them all’, has made him a better team player, and when he won his first title in 2008 he didn’t understand ‘that it’s a long game, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

The Englishman is on course to cement his place as the second most successful driver as he has a commanding lead in his pursuit of a sixth drivers’ crown. Hamilton says the streak of success has not made it hard for him to keep up the required commitment in F1, “because it’s never perfect”.

Adding, “If it feels perfect every weekend, then maybe after you think ‘eh, what’s the point?’ But the fact is, it’s never perfect. It’s a constant chase for perfection.”

Hamilton made it clear that his motivation is striving to be better is enough to convince him that he wants to stay in F1 for quite a while. Again hinting he could race into his fourth major regulation change in 2021.


Daniil Kvyat wanted to change his crash helmet for his home Grand Prix. But the change was rejected for a rule designed to allow fans to better identify drivers now not fit for purpose because of the halo?

Why Kvyat helmet change was rejected

F1 race director Michael Masi has explained why Daniil Kvyat was refused to let him run a special helmet design at the Russian Grand Prix. The Russian was upset that he couldn’t run a different design, pointing out that other drivers have used multiple colour schemes this year.

Masi explained that Kvyat had made a formal request to change colours, then he had no choice but to reject it because it was his third different design of the year.

Masi explained, “I don’t think that Kvyat was picked out. The question was asked, if the helmet design is substantially similar. And the response was: ‘No, it’s not.’”

“The team asked me if the design was in my view substantially similar. Which is I think the wording in the regulation.” While many have pointed out that others have run more than one design, Masi has suggested that has only happened because not everyone has asked in advance.

asked if all teams got approval beforehand, he said “Not necessarily. Generally, those that ask get a response either one way or the other.”

Max Verstappen is one driver who has used a number of different coloured helmets this year, but Masi said that he had not been informed beforehand about any change of helmet design.

Masi has suggested that the situation surrounding helmet designs is something that may need looking at again. The idea for one design per season was it makes it easier to identify drivers, but some argue that the halo where most teams place drivers names has made this irrelevant.

He added “If we’ve got someone changing helmets all the time, we actually got to think and look twice and see who it is, when we’re doing a live television broadcast. So there were various reasons why it was brought in, and it’s one of those we’ve already spoken about.”

No driver is yet to go beyond the ‘joker’, as such the penalty for which remains unknown.


Alfa Romeo was penalised at Hockenheim, but the appeal to overturn the penalties was refused as they were found to have given drivers an unfair advantage. But why was the team let off lightly?

Alfa loses appeal over penalties

Alfa Romeo has lost its appeal to the FIA to overturn penalties from the German Grand Prix overturned.

Both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi from seventh and eighth to twelfth and thirteenth, for a breach of Article 27.1 of F1’s Sporting Regulations which states: “The driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”

In theory, they got off lightly as the most severe penalty could have seen them disqualified from the race. However, the stewards took the decision that the benefit that the drivers got was more akin to a false start – which normally earns a driver a time penalty rather than exclusion from the results.

So rather than Raikkonen and Giovinazzi being thrown out, they were handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty.

The team argued that the setting of the clutch, which effectively outside Alfa’s control.

Fred Vassuer explained, “The situation arose during the laps we spent behind the safety car ahead of the standing start – we suffered a dysfunction of the clutch that was beyond our control and we will further investigate the issue,” he explained.


The difference between driving penalties and techincal penalties are varied, some believe that the penalty for some techincal infringements are more serve than driving offences. So why does Cyril Abiteboul believe there is a disconnect? 

A disconnect between driving and technical penalties

Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says there is “disconnect” between the move to relax penalties for driving offences and the lack of leeway when it comes to technical infringements.

Daniel Ricciardo was excluded from qualifying after a kerb strike led to a power spike over the MGU-K limit of 120kW. When called to the FIA, Renault pointed it out that it hadn’t occurred on the lap that got the Australian out of Q1, and that the time benefit was just one microsecond.

However, the stewards ruled it was not necessary to demonstrate that there was an advantage and that the precedent for any clear technical offences was an exclusion. Ricciardo lost his eighth place and had to start from the back of the grid.

Abiteboul believes that some margin should be built into the system and that for the good of the show less draconian penalties could be applied. The Frenchman told, “It’s a bit sad because we all know the fans want less penalties, that’s obvious.”

He added, “It’s strange because on the one side you can see that on the race track Michael Masi is coming with a new doctrine, the black and white flag, a sort of yellow card, so we’re trying to be sensible about the regulations and the impact on the sport and the show.”

“On the other side we have this, and for me, there is disconnect between the two that we can only regret because we were on the receiving end, and obviously you can’t expect anything else from me.”

He added to the calls from some in the sport to focus more on track action rather than strict application based on machines. Abiteboul believes that they are trying to be a bit less black and white on track. There are other precedents.

Masi, however, dismissed Abiteboul’s suggestion, stressing that technical infringements are regarded as black and white. he said “When it comes to technical infringements, Martin Brundle put it best, you’re either pregnant or you’re not.”


And that’s all from Reporters for this week, goodbye


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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