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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Cyril Abiteboul
    Cyril Abiteboul
    Renault can close engine gap for 2019 - Abiteboul
  • McLaren 'on road to recovery' now - Brown
  • No British GP 'at any price' - Silverstone
  • Bratches "hopeful" of Silverstone deal
  • Not only tires to blame for F1 problems - Isola
  • Renault changes F1 team name
  • Domenicali: Todt's leadership style was key to Ferrari success

Renault can close engine gap for 2019 - Abiteboul

(GMM) Cyril Abiteboul says he is not sure that Renault is ready to take on Red Bull in 2019.

The French works team was fourth overall in 2018, but a long way behind the top three teams in terms of pace and points.

Part of the reason for that is Renault's budget, which boss Abiteboul admits is "60 per cent less" than what Mercedes spends.

"But when the budget cap comes, this handicap becomes a strength. The numbers that the top teams spend are unacceptable. We have to protect these teams from themselves," he said.

So for now, Abiteboul says a more realistic goal for 2019 is to close the gap rather than challenge Red Bull for third.

"Let's wait and see what happens with Red Bull and Honda," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Red Bull never gets tired of saying how good Honda is compared to us. But may I state that Toro Rosso is behind us?"

Abiteboul said the gap to the top in percentage terms is 1.5 per cent, so "We should reduce that by half" next year.

He said the biggest problem is the Renault chassis, but admitted that the engine also needs improving.

"The engine lacks about 15 to 20 kilowatts in the race," said Abiteboul. "In certain conditions it could be made up for with the Red Bull chassis.

"In qualifying, we estimate our deficit at 40 kilowatts," he added. "That's significant. I don't want to have to say next year that we were missing so much in qualifying.

"There is no reason why should not close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari over the winter with the engine. It will take a little longer with the chassis," Abiteboul added.

Finally, the Frenchman said he is looking forward to pairing existing Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg with Daniel Ricciardo in 2019.

"Red Bull certainly have their reasons why Daniel was not allowed to test our car in Abu Dhabi," said Abiteboul.

"Everything that Red Bull throws our way shows me that we are heading in the right direction."

McLaren 'on road to recovery' now - Brown

Zak Brown feels he has fixed McLaren
Zak Brown feels he has fixed McLaren

(GMM) Zak Brown insists he is not responsible for McLaren's decline.

Formerly an F1 marketing specialist, the American joined McLaren for 2017 following the ousting of Ron Dennis and amid the Honda-powered debacle.

But Brown is quoted by El Mundo Deportivo as surmising that McLaren's current predicament can be traced back "years".

"My summary would be that we lacked consistency in leadership," he said.

"I don't point to anyone, but there was a lack of concentration on everything that was going on from the board down," said Brown.

The result, he says, is that McLaren created "a poor car" for this year due to McLaren having a poor "structure".

"Now we are on the road to recovery," he said. "In all of those areas, we're doing well now.

"But until we get the new car on track, people will not be able to see the improvements we've made. I think this year has been the low point."

No British GP 'at any price' - Silverstone

Vettel at Silverstone
Vettel at Silverstone

(GMM) A cloud still hangs over the future of the British grand prix at Silverstone.

Last year, the circuit triggered a break clause in its contract with Liberty Media for financial reasons.

"We got ourselves into a pickle because we had a business that was solely financed by the grand prix," Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said.

The circuit is therefore "diversifying" and Pringle said Silverstone is now "heading in the right direction".

"It gives us the confidence to say 'Lord knows we want to keep the grand prix, but not at any price'.

"We're going to have a broader, more diverse business that can survive without it. But we'd much rather have one with it," Pringle added.

When asked about Silverstone, F1 chief executive Chase Carey reacted by repeating his line about the "foundation" of the sport being built on its European roots.

"But we do want to bring some freshness to it. We think it's important to go to some places that can capture people's imagination that are new," he said.

That might be a reference to London, with commercial boss Sean Bratches admitting a street race in the British capital would be "ideal".

"If there was an opportunity to race on the famous streets of London, that would be ideal for formula one fans around the world," he said.

However, he also said he is "very hopeful" negotiations with Silverstone will work out.

"There has not been a lot of change in terms of the last time we spoke," said Bratches. "But we are having discussions and conversations around the business terms and both are genuinely trying to get a deal done."

Bratches "hopeful" of Silverstone deal

Sean Bratches
Sean Bratches

While the countdown to a new Concorde Agreement continues, a deal to keep Silverstone and the British Grand Prix on the calendar has even less time.

As it stands, 2019 will see Silverstone host the British Grand Prix for the last time, after which the event will drop from the calendar.

The British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), which owns the circuit, exercised a clause in the contract days ahead of the 2017 event, which allowed it to end the deal after 2019, having finally spotted the elephant in the room in terms of the ever increasing hosting fees.

Simply put, either Formula One Management comes up with a deal which sees the hosting fees reduced or 2019 is the last time Silverstone hosts the race.

AS previously reported, Silverstone is already in a race against time to find the £13m needed for the 2019 event, which must be paid at the time.

Already under pressure, with the Financial Times revealing that F1's pro forma core revenues fell 1% to $1.48bn in 2017, the first year under Liberty's ownership, and with the pattern likely to be repeated this year, FOM can ill afford to lower the hosting fee for Silverstone, especially with Interlagos and Monza in the final years of their deals and, like Silverstone, clearly struggling.

Nonetheless, F1 commercial boss, Sean Bratches, remains "hopeful" of a deal, though it is unclear how one might be agreed that will satisfy all concerned.

"We are very hopeful," he tells Sky Sports News. "There has not been a lot of change in terms of the last time we spoke.

"We are having discussions and conversations around the business terms and both genuinely trying to get a deal done," he adds.

"Silverstone, it speaks for itself, it's an extraordinary brand. It's the home of the first Grand Prix," he pointed out, as he reverted to the marketing speak that leaves British race fans cold and seriously concerned for the future.

Meanwhile, as the powers-that-be continue to seek out "destination cities" as venues for races, the American admitted that London remains a key target.

"We are having conversations with the mayor's office and conversations with cities around the world," he said. "Certainly if there was an opportunity in London for us to race in the great streets here this would be an ideal circumstance, both for London and for Formula 1 fans around the world."

Not only tires to blame for F1 problems - Isola

Mario Isola
Mario Isola

(GMM) Mario Isola has defended Pirelli amid suggestions it is the tires that are making formula one races boring.

Recently, the F1 drivers met with the Pirelli F1 chief to argue that they need more robust tires that they can "push" with rather than so often nurse to the pitstops.

The Italian company has secured the contract to remain F1's sole tire supplier through 2023.

Isola said the current situation is not all Pirelli's fault.

"Faced with the problem of the 21 or 22 seconds that it costs to do a pitstop, the teams have preferred to slow down the drivers," he told France's Auto Hebdo.

"It's not just because of the tires. There are other limitations including the engine and fuel consumption and so on.

"Personally, I would like to see the drivers attack more," Isola added.

He said he is not sure what should be done to make the racing more exciting.

"The regulations could impose a minimum of two stops, but there is a good chance that everyone would stop at the same time. It's a complex problem that is not easy to understand.

"Every decision we make must be accurately evaluated. We had discussions with the drivers and the teams on this subject, as well as the FIA and FOM, but nobody has a miracle solution," added Isola.

Renault changes F1 team name

Will it make them any faster?
Will it make them any faster?

Renault Sport Formula One Team will become Renault F1 Team after confirming a name change ahead of the 2019 season.

In a team statement announcing the tweak, the French manufacturer has explained the alteration has been triggered to create a “simpler and more natural designation” to strengthen the links between Renault and F1.

The name will be used from today in preparation for the 2019 Formula 1 world championship.

“This new name and new logo will be assets to achieve the strategic objectives of developing Renault’s reputation and brand image through our commitment to Formula 1, while continuing to support the company’s product ranges, especially in the sports segment,” a team statement added.

“This new logo is more compact and more readable. Renault’s Losange – the diamond emblem - is now directly associated to the team name without any separation.”

Renault become the latest F1 team to announce a name tweak following Force India becoming Racing Point F1 Team and Ferrari becoming Scuderia Ferrari Misson Winnow from the 2019 season.

Red Bull has also confirmed it will drop TAG Heuer as its engine-naming partner with the arrival of Honda for 2019, while Haas will become Rich Energy Haas F1 Team after securing title sponsorship from the energy drinks brand.

Domenicali: Todt's leadership style was key to Ferrari success

Jean Todt in 2007 with Ferrari
Jean Todt in 2007 with Ferrari

Long-time Ferrari man turned Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali gave a heartfelt tribute to his former boss, FIA President, Jean Todt during the Auto Bild Motorsport Race Night Awards in Germany.

Called upon to speak about the man that led Ferrari during the golden years of Michael Schumacher – a time when the team was almost invincible as they gobbled up 11 Formula 1 world titles from 1999 until the end of 2004 – this is Domenicali’s tribute to Todt:

“It is an honor for me to commend Jean Todt, not only what he represented to Ferrari but what he meant to me personally.

“I joined Ferrari in 1991 and Jean Todt arrived two years later and he was my direct boss. At this time, I spent more time with him than with my family.

When you spend hours and hours together in an office, then you get very close. That’s why I know: all his success, titles or awards did not just fall from the sky or came about pure luck! “No, they are the result of his full commitment.

“He always spoke to us with great passion and enthusiasm, teaching us that we must never give up, always work hard, at all times ensure that everyone is in the right place and knows what he has to do.

“In short, Jean Todt’s approach and leadership style were key to Ferrari’s success.

“This man completely dedicated himself to his task and always gave full throttle – from the early morning hours until late into the night. He made sure everyone in the team was motivated and working in one direction.

“There was never time to relax, whether we won or lost. thus we attained a very high standard and the results speak for themselves.

“Jean Todt also had the ability to bring the right people into the team and make them work together in the best possible way. His credo was: You can only win as a team, never alone.

“When he arrived at Ferrari, we were in a difficult period. There was skepticism, restlessness and much switching back and forth. Jean brought calm to the team and focused on the things that needed to improve.

“He had a clear view of the situation and the ability to directly attack problems. His knowledge of human nature is unique, when he sees you for the first time, he immediately sees through you and knows who you are and how you tick.

“He is suspicious at the beginning, with a thick wall around him but if you overcome that and win him over you will see the difference.

“Another point I want to mention is how important it was for him, to listen and to comprehend his drivers. He had an incredible understanding of what they really needed to reach the maximum level.

“That was also the special relationship that existed between him and Michael, he made Michael a world record champion. I am very happy that I was able to learn everything from him,” concluded Domenicali.

Cleary moved by the citation of his former teammate, he said, “I’m very touched, barely holding back the tears. When succeed, it is always nice if you are able to give to people.” grandprix247

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