Formula 1 - 2017


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RENAULT AND TEAM PRINCIPAL VASSEUR PART WAYS

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Formula 1’s winter winds of change continued with Renault and team principal Frederic Vasseur parting company a day after champions Mercedes announced the departure of technical head Paddy Lowe.

Renault, who took over the failing Lotus team at the end of 2015 and finished ninth of 11 teams last year, said the split with Vasseur was by mutual consent.

“Both parties remain committed to maintaining the good working relationship they have enjoyed and expect this to take a new form sometime in the future,” the French manufacturer said in a statement.

It promised more information when the 2017 car was unveiled on 21 February.

The team, who have Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg and Britain’s Jolyon Palmer as drivers, will be run in the meantime by president Jerome Stoll and managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

The season starts in Australia on March 26 with major changes designed to make cars faster, more aggressive-looking and harder to handle.

Vasseur, who became principal midway through last season, brought a strong reputation with him after steering his ART team to success in the GP2 support series.

Hulkenberg won the GP2 title with ART in 2009 and had been looking forward to linking up with Vasseur again after switching from Force India at the end of last season.

There had, however, been reports of differences of opinion among the management despite Renault, who have restructured the team and recruited more staff, setting what looked like realistic targets for their return as a manufacturer.

“We knew… when we took over the company that 2016 would be very difficult in terms of results. That’s life. We have to build up a strong team for the future,” Vasseur told Reuters a year ago.

Kevin Magnussen hinted at leadership confusion, among the Renault F1 team management, when he decided to leave the team to join Haas, “Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to know who is actually in charge here and who will make a decision.”

Changes in the F1 world have been rife since the last race back in November and although likely to be unconnected with Vasseur’s departure, Lowe is expected to show up at Williams after a period of ‘gardening leave’, the two exits provided further evidence of a major pre-season shake-up of the paddock landscape.

For the first time in 23 years, Formula One will start a season without a reigning world champion on the starting grid as a consequence of Nico Rosberg retiring five days after winning the title with Mercedes. The German’s replacement has yet to be announced.

McLaren had already parted company with their boss Ron Dennis, while engineering head Pat Symonds left Williams at the end of last year. The Manor team are meanwhile facing an uncertain future after going into administration this month.

Renault Statement:

Renault Sport Racing announces that Frédéric Vasseur is leaving his role as Team Principal of the Renault Sport Formula One Team.
After a first season spent relaunching and rebuilding its Formula 1 team, Renault Sport Racing and Frédéric Vasseur have agreed by mutual consent to part company, effective as of today.

Both parties remain committed to maintaining the good working relationship they have enjoyed and expect this to take a new form sometime in the future.

The outlook of Renault’s second season back in Formula 1, as well as the resources implemented to meet them, will be set out in detail at the presentation of the team’s new race car.

The Renault Sport Racing and the Formula 1 team continue to be managed by Jérôme Stoll, its President, and Cyril Abiteboul, its Managing Director.

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VASSEUR: THERE WAS TOO MUCH DIFFERENT VISION

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Although Frederic Vasseur’s departure from Renault caught the Formula 1 world by surprise, in the retrospect the writing was on the wall for some time.

Murmurs of a conflict of opinion between him and Cyril Abiteboul bubbled throughout last season, with their driver Kevin Magnussen, who departed for Haas, claiming, “Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to know who is actually in charge [at Renault] and who will make a decision.”

Which Vasseur confirmed in an interview in the wake of his departure, “There was too much different vision in the management of the team, so at this stage I think it makes sense for me to leave.”

“For the Renault team also, if you want to perform in F1, you need to have one leader in the team and one single way. If you have two different visions then the result is that the work inside the team is slow.”

Vasseur is a no nonsense individual who built a formidable GP2 Series team with Nicolas Todt before joining Renault in 2016.

Despite a short tenure with the French team, Vasseur said, “I have a positive feeling that we did all together a good job on some points: in terms of recruitment, in terms of restructuring the company and also in track operations.”

“We improved a lot over the past season and some strong engineers will join the team over the next few weeks and months. So there were some positive aspects.”

“The collaboration with the 1000 people who work for the Renault F1 team was a wonderful experience for me, because it is a real racing team and I appreciate a lot the collaboration with the guys.”

“But the frustration is like if you are building the foundations of a house and you stop after the first metre… But that is fine. I’ve made my decision.”

As for the road ahead, Vasseur said, “I am not too much worried about my future. First, I will take one week off, with my family, and then I will see. I will have some discussions about other projects, but it is not the right time now to think about this.”

“I want to close properly my collaboration with Renault F1 team, and then I will think about the future. I have enough things to do to be more than busy, so it won’t be an issue,” added Vasseur.

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ZETSCHE: MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS SOMETHING AGAIN WITH LEWIS!

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Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche revealed that he had just stepped out of a shower when his phone rang with motorsport chief Toto Wolff delivering the news that Nico Rosberg had decided to resign a mere five days after claiming his first Formula 1 World Championship title.

Zetsche told Autocar, “I had just come out of the shower when the phone had rung. I saw that it was Toto Wolff and immediately my first thought was: No, something again with Lewis Hamilton!”

“And then Toto shared the news with me. I must admit I really did not expect Nico’s retirement,” added the Mercedes big boss.

Rosberg’s decision took the the sporting world by storm as there was no evidence that the German would be hanging up his gloves in such a manner. The move also left Mercedes in a tricky position of not having a driver for 2017 when most top candidates were contracted with their respective teams.

But Zetsche backs the decision made by F1’s latest world champion: “I respect Rosberg’s decision. We have a driver with Hamilton, who says: I want more and more, I want to break records and write history.”

“And we have a driver who said: Well, I have fulfilled my dream, how can I surpass that? I find both approaches comprehensible and justified.”

“Sure, I’d rather have two world champions in the team for the forthcoming season. I know the fight would again be very intense. Now we need a new driver… such is life.”

“I was neither offended nor disappointed. Such a decision has to be respected,” added Zetsche.

Valtteri Bottas is expected to be confirmed soon as Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes for 2017 and beyond.

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ZAK BROWN: IT’S A LITTLE AWKWARD FOR ME

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McLaren executive director Zak Brown has revealed how Ron Dennis actively pursued him to join the organisation and when he did, ironically, it was to replace the team supremo who had been at the helm of for over a quarter of a century.

Brown told Sky, “Ron and I have known each other, and I’ve known McLaren, for over a decade now. The relationship got started around two sponsors we brought in, Johnnie Walker and Hilton, who are both still with the team.”

“We built a very good relationship over the years and Ron had always left the door open, certainly in more recent years, to come and join and I always had an obligation to JMI and CSM, which I sold in 2013.”

“As I was nearing the end of my agreement, I let Ron know and then those conversations went from pat on the back ‘why don’t you come and join?’ to paper and offers in front of me. That started in the early part of [2016] because I knew that I wanted to get back into motorsports full-time.”

“So ultimately Ron pursued me and it would have been working alongside him, under him. He then put me forward to the other shareholders and fortunately for me all three were unanimous in their support of it being a good idea for me to join the team. A lot of what I’m doing now, Ron asked me to do, so my job’s not a whole lot different.”

As for replacing the man who built McLaren and led the team to so much success, Brown admitted, “It’s a little awkward for me if I’m being brutally honest. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all three shareholders. I’ve got great relationships with all three shareholders. I’m proud to work for all three shareholders, so when they’re not getting along that’s not comfortable all the time because you want to make them all happy.”

“I figured the best way for me to do that is get my head down helping the team get back to being world champions, because while they may be having disagreements amongst them, they all agree that we need to win world championships.”

“So I’m going to keep my head down, keep my relationship with all shareholders. It’s very good with Ron. We speak often, so I’m in a good place but it’ll be a little uncomfortable at times.”

As for the future, Brown is optimistic, “Everyone is very excited. I’ve been walked through the car in detail, and now seen all the reports from the 2016 car and where they have found areas of improvement, so everyone is feeling very bullish.”

“The last couple of years have been difficult, but [in 2016] they had a good race car. Honda is putting out some good power and if we can make the same leap that we made from 2015 to 2016, to ’16 to 2017, we are well on our way.”

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HAAS: GETTING THE EXTRA FOUR OR FIVE TENTHS IS WHAT WE’RE MISSING

Gene Haas F1

Team owner Gene Haas has come to realise how difficult Formula 1 really is after his Haas F1 team enjoyed an impressive debut season, in which he has been fast to learn that extracting the maximum from his team’s package is the hard part.

Haas told ESPN, “I think what we have is as good as anyone’s car out there, but making that car get the maximum performance, get the extra four or five tenths a lap, is what we’re missing. That takes a lot of effort to get those extra tenths.”

“I think the infrastructure we have at the moment is adequate. The key thing is to add more personnel whose expertise are in the areas I talked about and getting them… We have to spend more time getting the car to perform.”

Haas admits he is still seeking the ideal solution for his USA based team to tackle Formula 1 effectively, “A lot of people thought Ferrari was basically going to give us a car and we were going to out and race the car. But that wasn’t the case.”

“I think it’s very apparent there’s a lot more going on with these cars than just the parts themselves; Mercedes has given engines to various teams and they don’t do as good as Mercedes, so there’s a lot of complexity to not only building the cars but also building them.”

“So we’re struggling. There’s so many parameters in terms of tyre pressures and air temp pressures and brake cooling to make these cars work, every team has to conquer that and that’s where we’re still having some learning curves … to learn exactly how to get the car, the engine, the tyres and the brakes to work together,” added Haas.

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KALTENBORN: A TOTALLY NEW ERA AT SAUBER

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Sauber’s financial woes early on in 2016 crippled the team and nearly caused it to fold, but timely investment by Longbow Finance who acquired the Sauber Group injected new life into the team who now plan to return to the Formula 1 midfield.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn told GP Update, “The investors coming in has marked the beginning of a totally new era at Sauber. It’s not only that the founder of the team is no longer a shareholder, the first time it’s happened, you feel that a totally new chapter has opened.”

“We have stability, we have sufficient backing, we are able to again work the way we want to, to make the step ahead, which allowed us to return to doing development – we could implement the development we had for a long time, ready in our drawer, to be opened and taken out.”

“You feel it in the team, you feel it in the motivation. You could also see how we approached the races, the strategies we took, with new people coming in – it’s made a big difference.”

Kaltenborn has always been a strong advocate of smaller teams, like Sauber, having a larger slice of the F1 pie and also a bigger say in the running of the sport.

She explained, ” I think private teams are the backbone of the sport. If you look at it, manufacturers come and go, we all know that, and we’ve experienced that too.”

“It’s a matter of time when they come, and a matter of time when they leave, when they either have achieved their targets or have not achieved their targets, because being number two for a manufacturer – like it was with BMW – is no option, it’s not good enough, you have to be right on top.”

“If you see, for us, this is our core business. It’s not an expensive marketing platform, where you like to show your technology. This is what we do, so that’s why we’re always here, no matter what the sport goes through.”

“When manufacturers go, whatever state the sport is left in, we are still here, and we still somehow cope with the challenges. I think that should be highlighted a bit more. That is one issue, but the other for a team like ours… going towards the privileges certain teams have, which we consider as distorting the competition.”

Looking ahead the Sauber team chief is upbeat, “First of all that we are not just limited or reduced, to these two bad years that we’ve had. Looking at our entire history, 45 years in motorsport, and excluding 2014 and 2016, people shouldn’t reduce the team to that.”

“We are a Swiss team, a European team, that’s how we see ourselves. We are a strong engineering company, because it’s not just Formula 1, it’s also an engineering business, where we deliver high-end services.”

“It’s going to be important to show that we have the stability again, that we’re growing and that we’re a unique technology centre,” added Kaltenborn.

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Pirelli has prepared 'more traditional' back-up compounds

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Pirelli aren't taking chances during the 2017 season and have therefore prepared back-up compounds should the all-new range fail to meet the requirements of the new 2017 cars.

Although Pirelli has tested its new, larger tyres on mule cars provided by Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, the Italian company has still had to make a guess of what to expect as the mule cars aren't reaching the levels of downforce expected of this year's challengers.

The new compounds "make use of entirely new materials and a completely fresh design philosophy", according to Pirelli, therefore the supplier has developed a back-up tyre for each compound using more traditional methods should problems arise, such as the level of downforce proving far greater than their simulations suggested.

"After a very positive testing programme with the new sizes Pirelli has decided to additionally homologate a back-up compound alongside each of the five new base compounds," Pirelli noted. "These extra compounds are formulated using more traditional criteria compared to the new base compounds.

"The back-up compounds could be introduced later in the season to respond to any particular requirements once the real performance levels of the 2017 cars have been identified."

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Donington not interested in hosting British GP

Donington not interested in hosting British GP

Donington Park has no interest in running the British Grand Prix, even if Silverstone decides to abandon the race.

Silverstone's owner the British Racing Drivers' Club is currently considering whether or not to activate the break clause in its GP contract, which could make the 2019 edition the last at the Northamptonshire venue.

Donington held the European Grand Prix in 1993 and made a failed bid to host a Formula 1 world championship round at the end of the last decade.

That move, made under Simon Gillett, almost forced Donington to close.

When asked if Donington would consider trying to host the British GP if Silverstone did pull out, current circuit MD Christopher Tate said: "Absolutely not.

"We've set a very clear target of keeping the trace of the circuit as it is.

"We've no interest in hosting modern, high-speed single-seaters because we'd have to completely change Donington Park."

Tate also criticised the basis on which circuits have to run GPs, but believes Liberty Media, which is expected to take a controlling interest in F1 soon, seems willing to change deals to help circuits.

"The business model makes no sense to anyone and all the messing around with the F1 calendar has a terrible impact on the rest of motorsport," added Tate.

"Hopefully there will be a totally different business model and Liberty has made all the right noises about heritage events [such as the British GP].

"I do think the new owners will understand where it all fits in because they are media savvy. It can't continue on the basis it is."

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Bored Drivers. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen long for the new F1 season

When you're still over 10 weeks away from the start of an F1 season... Daniel and Max are longing for the start of the new season, are you?

 

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REWIND: Paddy Lowe discusses his favourite F1 race


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As Paddy Lowe exits Mercedes after four incredibly successful seasons as its Executive Director (Technical) for a likely return to Williams, read this exclusive interview with him from 2015 as he goes way back to 1992 to tell us all about his favourite race... a Williams race, no less 

First published in July 2015 

With a career in Formula One spanning almost thirty years, Mercedes' Executive Director (Technical), Paddy Lowe, has seen it all when it comes to drama, on-track action, championship deciders and classic races. 

Unsurprisingly though for a man with a CV boasting senior engineering roles with Williams and McLaren as well as his current position with Mercedes, when asked for memories of his favourite race, Lowe concentrates on a race of great technical significance – featuring a starring role for an innovation which Lowe himself played a vital role in developing. 

The 1991 Formula One season saw the beginning of a reversal in fortune, as Williams-Renault started to turn the tide against McLaren-Honda and re-establish themselves as the pre-eminent team in the sport. The Williams FW14 in the hands of Nigel Mansell ran Ayrton Senna close for the title, but fell short of preventing the Brazilian from claiming his third championship, and McLaren's fourth on the spin. 

Behind the scenes though, the Williams technical department had been developing an innovation which they would unleash to devastating effect to dominate the 1992 season – starting at the South African Grand Prix in Kyalami. As Lowe explains, “I'd come to work for Williams at the beginning of their first generation of active suspension at the end of 1987 and racing it in 1988. We were really unprepared on every level to race something which for that era was so complex though.” 

“It wasn't even about the car itself, it was about the infrastructure in terms of people, technology, understanding, support - it was nowhere,” continues Lowe. “We spent the next five years building that capability towards 1992 with the active suspension and traction control, whose first appearance was [Kyalami]. We spent five years building up to this point of playing our secret weapons – this was our moment.” 

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According to Lowe, it was clear from pre-season testing that Williams had developed something special – but beating McLaren was as much of a mental obstacle as it was a question of lap times. “As it turned out, the active suspension and the traction control were both worth about a second a lap from our winter testing,” Lowe explains. “McLaren had been so dominant through that preceding period. We gave them a bit of a hard time in '91 but they still won it, so my whole career up to that point they were always winning… I couldn't imagine that you could beat McLaren.” 

Having not tested alongside McLaren during the winter, Williams still had no idea of their rivals' pace heading to South Africa. Come FP1 in Kyalami though, and Williams' and Lowe's thoughts quickly moved from imagining to dreaming. “You go into P1, and we're massively quicker than them and you think, 'there's something wrong, they're just sandbagging or something'. As the sessions went on you began to believe that 'maybe we've got something here',” Lowe recalls. 

Come qualifying, and Nigel Mansell took pole position by seven tenths with the McLarens of Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger second and third. Mansell's teammate Riccardo Patrese was a distant fourth, 1.5 seconds down on the sister Williams. It laid down a marker for the season, with Mansell in particular benefitting from the FW14B's characteristics. As Lowe tells us, “Nigel had come to that race on absolutely top form. He loved the active car, it really played to his strengths. [The car] had this feature where as you lifted off you lost the balance quite a bit – so the more you stayed on the throttle the more the car worked. [Nigel]'s a driver with huge confidence… and the active car thrived on that confidence.” 

Despite Mansell's dominant qualifying performance, Lowe was taking nothing for granted on race day. “I remember being on the grid and this car was quite complex and I was the only one who knew all of the things that could go wrong – more than anyone else,” Lowe recalls. “I was feeling physically sick thinking of what could go wrong as there were so many new things on the car which had never raced before.” 

“Active suspension was something which took quite a long time to arrive, it was the product of 5/6 years work whereas the traction control was something that was the product of 3 months work - one of those things that just come together really nicely and added as much lap time,” Lowe continues. 

“Renault were a bit unhappy with [the traction control] because they hadn't done any endurance work with [it], so Nigel switched off his traction control in the race as Renault didn't want us to run it. Riccardo was being threatened by Ayrton so whenever he was threatened we told him to put the traction control on and he would leave him behind to open up a gap – then the Renault guys would come out and say 'turn it off!'. So we'd turn it off again and Ayrton would catch up – that happened two or three times.” 

Mansell duly went on to win the race, cruising home to take the chequered flag by 24 seconds from Patrese. It would be the first of three consecutive 1-2 finishes to open the season, and the first of six overall during the year. Mansell would go on to win the opening five rounds and a total of nine races en route to becoming champion with 108 points – all records at the time and illustrations of the Williams FW14B's dominance. 

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Mansell's win was memorable for many reasons, but Lowe reveals that a cheekily collected bonus memento offered an extra special significance. “I've actually got the champagne bottle from that race, which Nigel signed and wrote, 'First Win' on there,” Lowe tells us. “I shouldn't really have had it as it was supposed to go to the mechanics… I felt a bit bad taking the bottle but I did sort of think, “that's mine, I earned that!” 

Few would disagree as Lowe was one of the key men behind a quantum leap in performance, and it's little coincidence that McLaren in 1998 and Mercedes in 2014 also enjoyed similar jumps forward during Lowe's tenure. For Lowe, there are significant differences in the development race during the 1990s and today however. 

“In those days we were far more resource limited,” Lowe explains. “Now we are regulation limited, so if we find a gap in the regulations or a change is made we will exploit that right to the limit within days or weeks. We have all the knowledge, experience and technology… Back then there was a lot of technology in the aerospace industry that we weren't using. We were 20 years behind the times in terms of what was possible.” 

“You could come along and come up with an idea like active suspension, traction control or active steering, power brakes, automatic gears – and it wasn't about whether they were legal, they were all legal, it was about 'can I actually do that, and have I got the people, the capacity and the knowledge to implement that',” Lowe continues. 

The systems that Lowe and Williams implemented in 1992 represented the pinnacle of technological evolution at the time. Not only was the Williams-Renault FW14B the outstanding class of the field throughout the 1992 season, but the success of that year instigated a period of dominance for the Grove outfit that well and truly knocked McLaren off their perch. The foundations of Williams' supremacy through the early 1990s were built on a mastery of the complex electronic systems that defined the era, and the 1992 South African Grand Prix was the first public demonstration of a technical weaponry so potent that all such devices would be outlawed by the Hockenheim Agreement barely 18 months later. 

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By then Lowe was en route to McLaren and plotting another reversal of fortunes, but even involvement in further epochal benchmarks such as the McLaren MP4-13's demolition of the field at the 1998 Australian GP, or the first outing of the Mercedes W05 at the same circuit 16 years later can't displace the fond affections of Kyalami '92 – proving that nothing is ever as sweet as the first time.
 

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Hi all. :)

Just advising you all, in a few hours, I'll cease posting for a couple weeks as I am off on break with my son being school holidays here. I most likely won't post anything as the first part of holidays I am off to the Great ocean road for a much needed break and the second week away I will be moving house (I hate moving) so will no doubt have no internet until this is all set up and connected.

I know I just started the new thread, if there is anything pertinent, you are all always welcome to post and share as you all do. ;)

Take care and see you all soon.

Mika

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HONDA: WE LOOK FORWARD TO SUPPLYING MULTIPLE TEAMS

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It is no secret that Honda are bullish about their all new 2017 Formula 1 engine, which aptly coincides with their quest to supply teams other than McLaren as early as 2018.

When asked about supplying additional teams, a Honda spokesperson told GrandPrix247, “Since 2015, Honda have always said that as a responsible entity in the sport of F1, we will and look forward
to supplying our engines to multiple teams.”

The exclusivity agreement with McLaren is set to terminate at the end of 2017, but since their return Honda were blocked from supplying another team by former McLaren chief Ron Dennis whose attitude on the matter he summed up with: “Let’s get to the point where we’ve won the world championship first and then we’ll think about it.”

The idea to hog Honda all to themselves may have been good on paper for the ex-McLaren chief, but many believe he shot himself in the foot because Honda were simply left behind when it came to data acquisition while the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault had multiple sources of information to tap into.

Honda themselves were not too pleased with the condition, knowing well that a second team would give them a broader picture and also a good platform to study how the engine performed with different packages.

Nevertheless the Japanese manufacturer played ball to get a foot back into Formula 1 with a top team.

But now Honda are spreading their wings and looking to embrace more teams, suggesting that their motorhome will be a busy place in the F1 paddock.

The spokesperson added, “We talk to all teams in passing, as it is only natural to do so in the paddock, however, we have nothing confirmed on future supply with any teams.”

Who those “any teams” will be is clearly not known as yet. No one is likely to make a move to cosy up to Honda before they witness the new engine running in testing and seeing how it performs during the course of a grand prix weekend.

Should it be on the pace or close to what Mercedes have bolted on to their works team, be sure to expect some big names knocking on the Honda motorhome door.

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ABITEBOUL: I WAS DISAPPOINTED IN MAGNUSSEN

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Renault team chief Cyril Abiteboul has taken a swipe at Kevin Magnussen who departed Renault to join Haas, while the Dane claimed that the French team was plagued with a lack of leadership.

Abiteboul told Auto Hebdo, “I was disappointed with Magnussen. Disappointed with his performances and his behaviour. He is a talented race driver but lacks the discipline and very often he made excuses.”

“We wanted to maintain continuity with the team and no doubt it would have been logical to keep Kevin. But it turned out that while the other driver [Jolyon Palmer] progressed during the course of the season, the other [Magnussen] did not progress at the same rate. He stood still.”

Indeed Palmer being retained by Renault for another season came as something of a surprise, but Abiteboul explained, “Often on Fridays, Palmer was slower, but he gradually developed throughout the weekend, while Magnussen looked good in free practice but lost momentum as the weekend progressed.”

“Jolyon works at his own pace, as he did in GP2 where he took several seasons to win the title in a fight with Stoffel Vandoorne. But he is on the right track. We can assume that in 2017 Palmer will be stronger,” added Abiteboul.

Renault kept Magnussen in limbo regarding 2017, which frustrated the Dane who said before the final race in Abu Dhabi, “If it was clear who was in charge at Renault right now, I am sure there would be a decision. But there certainly is not.”

More recently Magnussen told BT newspaper, “Haas feels like a completely different team to McLaren and Renault. I think it’s a much better fit for me.”

As for ditching Renault for Haas, Magnussen explained, “It was more the feeling of them not committing, offering the drive to so many others and I think at one point the pope had an offer!”

“It was a bit messy, so it’s better for me to leave. More openness would have been good as well. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to know who is actually in charge here and who will make a decision,” revealed Magnussen.

Departing Renault team principal Frederic Vasseur said, “There was too much different vision in the management of the team, so at this stage I think it makes sense for me to leave.”

“For the Renault team also, if you want to perform in F1, you need to have one leader in the team and one single way. If you have two different visions then the result is that the work inside the team is slow,” added the Frenchman which affirmed what Magnussen had been saying for months.

MIKA: Sounds a little bit like sour grapes to me from Abiteboul regarding Magnussen..

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BRAWN: SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS

Mercedes GP Ross Brawn

Ross Brawn has warned that Mercedes will be strong again in 2017 despite the raft of major rule changes that are coming into effect this season, which rivals are hoping will help level the playing field after three years of dominance by the German outfit.

In an interview with FIA magazine Auto, Brawn predicted, “Success breeds success. Mercedes will be strong [this season], despite the greater emphasis on chassis.”

“Mercedes will have been pulling resource off this year’s programme onto next year very early, once they saw where they were with the car. If I was there, and I’m sure they’ve carried on a similar philosophy, I’d be saying: Right, we’ve got a strong car, we can only beat ourselves, let’s get everyone onto next year’s programme. I don’t know how many other teams could do that.”

As for the new regulations aimed at making the new generation cars faster and more challenging to drive, Brawn commented, “I’ve not been involved in the process to generate these regulations. When you are involved you know them intimately. I’ve read this set broadly and they’re a big step in a certain direction.”

“Outwardly they should make the cars a lot quicker. They’ll look racy, with wider track, wider tyres, and the way the wings are profiled the cars are going to look pretty exciting. It will be fascinating, though, as it’s putting the emphasis back on the chassis.”

There is a view that it was too much towards the engine, but actually I think it brought some balance. We went through a phase where the influence of the engine was almost neutral because everything was frozen and they were almost just a bracket between the gearbox and the chassis, whereas now people talk about the engines.”

As for the future of Formula 1, Brawn said, “F1 has to take a hard look at what it wants from an engine. What we’ve done in the last few years is align ourselves with road cars. We’ve got this revolution going on, and the road cars we’ll have in five to 10 years’ time are going to be very different.”

“Can we maintain the technological marvel of F1 but acknowledge that perhaps now is the time to start diverging from where road cars are going?”

“If we don’t, logic says we should have electric or fuel-cell F1 cars in a few years’ time. We have Formula E and that’s establishing its place, but for me F1 isn’t just a technological demonstration, it’s a whole circus, and what’s the best way of maintaining that?”

“It might be time to say: We’ve had this technological marvel, but we’re going to step back and think about what F1 ideally wants from an engine, which may have to contain some technologies that are relevant.”

“We have to sit down with the manufacturers, teams and interested parties and decide what we want beyond 2020. Maybe it’s what we’ve got now but refined in terms of cost and complexity, because the engine is too expensive.”

“In some ways the current engine is a technological marvel and it did re-engage the manufacturers, but if F1 starts to look at 2020 now there’s time to do it without anyone feeling any competitive disadvantage, with the investments and plans being made correctly.”

“You need two years to sort an engine out. By the end of next year, Formula One needs to know what sort of engine it needs for the future,” ventured Brawn who is reportedly set to return to Formula 1 as CEO of the sport on the behest of new owners Liberty Media.

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McLaren will launch new 2017 F1 car 'right before Spain test'

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McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown says the team has not decided on a launch date for its 2017 Formula 1 car, but it will be “right before the Spain test”.

Renault currently has the earliest car launch date of those confirmed with February 21, before Force India, Mercedes and Ferrari follow on successive days.

F1 testing will kick off from the 27 February to 2 March at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with a second test from the 7-10 March.

Spanish media reported a possible date for the McLaren launch could be the 19 February, but Brown says it has yet to be locked in.

“We've just signed off on the car livery and I think the fans will be excited to find out what the car looks like, both technically and visually,” he said at the Autosport International Show.

“We're working on [confirming] the launch date now. It's going to be right before the Spain test, so late February.

“I don't think we've landed on a specific date yet, but we've shown it to the shop floor, to the guys and girls at McLaren, and we're very excited for our future.”

MIKA: I hope its the McLaren burnt orange livery

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Brundle reveals Monaco GP heart attack

Martin Brundle, Lewis Hamilton, Monte-Carlo, 2016

Martin Brundle has revealed he suffered a minor heart attack while covering the Monaco Grand Prix last year.

The former Formula One driver, who is now a television commentator, was taken ill on his way to the podium ceremony at Monte-Carlo.

“I had a small heart attack running to do the podium in Monaco,” Brundle revealed during an interview at the Autosport International show.
Brundle continued to interview race winner Lewis Hamilton and the other podium finishers Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez.

He later revealed on Twitter he had “a medical procedure” due to a “serious heart issue”, which kept him from participating in the Canadian Grand Prix coverage. However he was able to compete at Le Mans in an LMP3 car just over two weeks later, setting pole position and finishing second in the race.

“I ended up with a 23mm stent in my left arterial descending,” Brundle explained. “So I didn’t think I could do the race and the cardio guy said ‘yeah, you can do the race, just don’t forget your blood thinners’.”

“I went to Palmersport and did 75 laps in a car and thought ‘yeah, I can do this’. I had bruises coming out of my chest but I thought ‘I love Le Mans, I’m not going to miss this’.”

“I sat at the press conference and there was a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old sitting alongside me and I thought ‘that’s not bad for an old geezer, 57’. We finished second in the race which was unfortunate, not first.”

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True F1 car performance won't be seen until China - Pirelli

True F1 car performance won't be seen until China - Pirelli

The true speed of this year's Formula 1 cars will not be seen until the Bahrain or Chinese Grands Prix, according to Pirelli tyre chief Paul Hembery.

This season will feature more aggressive-looking cars with wider front and rear wings as part of revised aerodynamic regulations, and the cars will be fitted with wider tyres.

Hembery reckons some teams will try to hide their true performance and sandbag during pre-season testing.

"We really won't know in Barcelona testing where the teams are as that's a period where they won't want to show their hand," said Hembery at Autosport International.

"There will be a lot of people trying to hide their true performance level or maybe wondering what they need to do because they can't even get close to some of the teams who are maybe sandbagging.

"Not even Australia [will a pecking order emerge], as it throws up some strange results.

"It'll be more when we get to China and Bahrain before we see the true performance of the cars."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing testing the new 2017 Pirelli tyres   Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director   Pirelli tyres

Fewer pitstops

The 2017 tyres will have very low degradation, with Hembery adding he also expected the rubber to have 25 percent more grip and there to be "fewer tyre changes" during races.

Pirelli completed a series of tests last year with modified 2015 mule cars but they did not generate as much downforce as what is expected from the 2017 machines, causing concern for Pirelli.

"The problem we have got is that we have been testing with cars that are five seconds slower than what we're actually going to see in Barcelona," he said.

"From a compounding aspect, it is a bit of a challenge for us because it's a very small window we're working with.

"If the numbers aren't what we have been told they are going to be, then we might have been a bit too conservative."

Wet tyre testing

Hembery said Pirelli plans to conduct wet tyre testing over the next two months and is negotiating with Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari to be able to use one of their mule cars to do so.

"We're working on an on-going development [of wet tyres] during the season, which is something we're allowed to do this season as before we weren't allowed to test," he said.

"In the last three years, I think we had three days of testing.

"Now we have up to 25 car days in a season, so we have a programme to change the wet tyres during the season.

"We want to improve the warm up characteristics.

"We're going to have standing starts, so the tyres are going to be cold.

"Like we do in GP2, where you don't have blankets, we have to try and get a product which warms up a lot quicker.

"Those tests will be in February and March.

"We're trying to get one of the hybrid cars which we used in the last months of last year and trying to convince one of the teams to get it out of the museum and allow us to do a bit more work."

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Bahrain GP: F1 2017 tickets on sale at discounted prices

Bahrain GP: F1 2017 tickets on sale at discounted prices

Tickets for the first Formula 1 race in the Middle East run to the more aggressive, new-for-2017 rules are now on sale at reduced prices.

The Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will be the third event of the 2017 season, and the first night race of the year.

The last time Bahrain hosted an event to a new rules set was the 2014, and it turned into an epic encounter between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – who fought out a huge duel for victory.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support for the Grand Prix over the years, but it is clear that the night race has brought in a new breed of racing fan to BIC,” said BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa.

“As our fourth night race, we expect the tickets to be more popular than ever, and we urge fans to get booking quickly to avoid disappointment, as our most popular grandstand tickets sell out faster and faster every year.”

This year’s race will be the 13th F1 event held at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, and takes place across the April 14 to 16 weekend.

An ‘Early Bird’ discount of up to 20% is available until January 26. This offer covers tickets to both BIC’s Main Grandstand and Turn 1 Grandstand.

“The 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix is right around the corner and we can already feel the anticipation of the fans across the country,” added Shaikh Salman.

“We are delighted to be able to offer them early access to tickets with our ‘Early Bird’ discount.”

There is also a 10% reduction on ticket prices to the Batelco Grandstand, University Grandstands and Victory Grandstands.

Children aged 12 years old and younger can get their tickets for half the price.

All ticket prices offer three-day access to the Grand Prix weekend, which, aside from Formula 1, will include racing from other major international and regional championships, and access to all of the Formula 1 weekend’s off-track entertainment.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.bahraingp.com or by calling the BIC Hotline on +973-17-450000.

 

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Bye bye Bernie.  Glad to see him gone.  So far I've like the changes and message coming from the new group.  It's good to see Ross Brawn back in F1.

http://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/38723001


Oh yesssssssss!!!!

About 10 years too late, but finally. You made my day :)
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MCLAREN RETURN TO ORANGE FOR 2017?

Orange McLaren F1 Formula 1 car

McLaren have announced they will be unveiling their 2017 Formula 1 challenger on 24 February, but they are not saying if their car will be orange although they have hinted that the livery will be different.

The team will present their all new car and their driver line-up of Fernando Alonso and rookie Stoffel Vandoorne at the team’s MTC headquarters.

As for the designation of the car the team spokesman said, “Our new car’s name/number has yet to be decided.”

There is a possibility that MP4 designation may be dropped or altered. The P4 representing the initials of Ron Dennis’ Project Four Formula 2 team he ran before becoming McLaren chief.

With his ousting, late last year, there has been speculation that the P4 maybe dropped. The last McLaren F1 car built before Dennis took over was the M30.

Meanwhile the team have promised a surprise livery, but when asked if a return to orange was on the cards the reply was, “It is too early to reveal details of our new car’s colouration, but you can expect to see something a bit different.”

Several teams have already completed and passed the mandatory FIA crash tests, when asked what the situation was at Woking the reply was simply, “Crash tests are ongoing.”

Last year McLaren had Vandoorne as their reserve driver and he was used for the Bahrain Grand Prix when Fernando Alonso was injured, in the aftermath of his big crash in Melbourne.

Although Jenson Button is expected to step up should any of the drivers be unable to race, this appears not to be confirmed as the team spokesman revealed, “Our reserve driver situation has yet to be decided.”

McLaren, the sport’s second most successful team, are without a Formula 1 world championship title since Lewis Hamilton won in 2008. They have also been podium-less since their reunification with Honda in 2015.

Ferrari are also scheduled to launch their new car Friday, 24 February.

Most recently they posted the graphic below on Facebook:

Image may contain: text

The post clearly suggests that orange will be part of the 2017 livery in some form or other.

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BRAWN: NO REASON WHY WE SHOULDN’T HAVE MORE RACES BUT…

ross brawn

Formula 1’s newly appointed managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn believes that the grand prix calendar can be extended beyond 21 races provided teams are compensated and thus able to run two crews as is done in NASCAR’s 35 rounds schedule.

Brawn told ESPN, “There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have more races, but you can’t have more races with the same structure that teams have now, because it would just break it.”

“If we can have more races and find a way with the teams of giving them the capacity to do it properly then it’s certainly not a strain on the drivers, because they don’t do any testing anymore and there are other people within the organisation for whom it is not a strain, but it would be a strain on the crews and engineers and so on.”

“But it’s addressable and it can be done. Fundamentally we need to decide if we want that number of races and if it makes sense for the sport and makes sense for the show,”

“[Liberty Media] asked me what I thought was the maximum number of races, and first of all I said we’ve got to balance quality and quantity.”

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t just have races because we can increase the number, the races have to be of good quality, in good places and in exciting places. We also need to think about the frequency of races because the nice balance of a race every other weekend is perfect.”

“But teams can organise themselves to do more than the current number. There is a knee point where you need to join in with the teams to help them and support the extra number of races, because 20 or 21 is pretty tough on the crews and tough on the engineers, tough on everyone who travels.”

“But if you then set yourself up with two sets of crews and two sets of engineers and all the rest of it, which I believe is what NASCAR does, then you can do it. But you have to engage with everyone to make that step,” explained Brawn.

 

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