Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Barcelona hopes to renew contract at a lower amount so they do not lose their shirt again
    Barcelona hopes to renew contract at a lower amount so they do not lose their shirt again

    Barcelona hopes for new F1 contract

  • McLaren not 'copying' Red Bull car – Sainz Jr.
  • Sirotkin to test DTM, Hartley to Porsche
  • Reduced Renault engine supply will benefit McLaren
  • Lowe says Williams will be better

Barcelona hopes for new F1 contract

(GMM) Organisers of the Spanish grand prix are still not sure they will reach a new agreement with Liberty Media.

Vicenc Aguilera, the Circuit de Catalunya boss, told Spanish reporters he hopes to sit down with the F1 owner "in three or four months".

"We are working on it but we have to do things right," he said. "The goal is to renew but the game is yet to be played."

Aguilera acknowledged that Liberty Media has "alternatives" to Barcelona, but said the current Spanish grand prix venue has a lot going for it.

"We have to know how to play the cards we have," he said.

"When we face a contract renewal, we must look at our ability to generate revenue, what we pay for the contract, the conditions under which we manage the grand prix — there are many variables and we will see how it progresses."

While Liberty has inked a deal with new organisers in Vietnam, many European circuits including Silverstone, Hockenheim and Monza say it is difficult for them to make money.

"The health of the circuit is clearly good in its structure," said Aguilera, "but financially it is mediocre.

"We are not able to generate resources and cope with losses due to the current harsh conditions. We need extra contributions," he added.

El Mundo Deportivo newspaper said the local government has been contributing EUR 2.5 million, but that amount is now being cut to 1.5m.

"We have had an agreement that has lasted three years and now we have to consider what to do for 2020," Aguilera said.

"In 2019 there are elections right after the grand prix and we will see what happens."

Another Barcelona boss, Joan Fontsere, admitted he is relieved that the F1 teams at least decided to keep the circuit as the sole winter test venue for 2019.

"It was the hardest negotiation that I have faced to date," he said.

"This year's snowfall did not help because the teams want to test in optimal conditions, but the commitment to improvement and those who appreciate the circuit in technical terms meant they decided to stay."

McLaren not 'copying' Red Bull car – Sainz Jr.

Sainz Jr. says McLaren not copying Red Bull.  Maybe they are copying Mercedes then
Sainz Jr. says McLaren not copying Red Bull. Maybe they are copying Mercedes then. They had better be copying someone.

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. has played down claims McLaren is 'copying' Red Bull's chassis concept for 2019.

With Red Bull moving to Honda power, some have observed that McLaren will now clearly emulate key principles of the Red Bull car that was so effective this year with customer Renault engines.

"I think it's very straightforward to say that the team is copying a chassis," Sainz, McLaren's new Spanish driver for 2019, said.

"I'm sure there are ideas from all the teams that McLaren has looked at, but that happens in formula one and in all the categories that I have raced in."

However, the Spaniard – who moves from the works Renault team – said he is sure McLaren will get the same chance to shine with Renault customer power.

"The engine is the same, and when I tested that car I could prove that it is the same as is in the Renault. So that doesn't bother me," said Sainz.

"I am convinced that Renault gives the same weapons to McLaren that they give for their own cars. I'm not worried for next year that we will not have good equipment."

He said McLaren has "learned a lot from the mistakes that were made" with the 2018 car.

"That's why I see everyone very impatient for next year to arrive," Sainz said.

But that doesn't mean he expects McLaren to build a fully competitive car for 2019.

"Competitive car? It depends on what you call competitive," said Sainz.

"If you call competitive fighting for a world championship, I think as formula one is today it's very early even for podiums.

"But if a competitive car means trying to lead the middle zone, I think that is the goal that McLaren has set. It doesn't mean we will do it next year, but it is a goal and I think it is realistic," he added. "I will try not to be far away from that."

Sirotkin to test DTM, Hartley to Porsche

Sirotkin taking his SMP money to DTM
Sirotkin taking his SMP money to DTM

(GMM) Sergey Sirotkin could keep his motor racing career alive in the German touring car series DTM.

SMP Racing, his Russian sponsor, said the Williams refugee has been invited by Audi to test at the Jerez circuit on Wednesday.

"The test is in the context of determining the options for his program for his future performances in the coming season," a statement issued by SMP Racing said, according to Tass news agency.

Meanwhile, ousted Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley has been re-signed by Porsche, with whom the New Zealander earlier won Le Mans and the world endurance championship.

He is tipped to be given a Formula E seat.

Porsche racing boss Fritz Enzinger said the Formula E lineup will be confirmed "shortly".

Reduced Renault engine supply will benefit McLaren

Zak Brown
Zak Brown

Renault will supply just two teams instead of three next season, and that reduction should benefit McLaren says CEO Zak Brown.

After Red Bull's decision to switch its engine dependence from Renault to Honda from 2019, the French manufacturer will focus entirely on its works team and its single customer, McLaren.

Assessing the past campaign and McLaren's first year of collaboration with Renault, Brown only has good things to say about the partnership and its prospects for the future.

"We're very happy with Renault," he says. "We have a very good relationship with them.

"I got my report on how next year's power unit is coming along and that's very encouraging.

They've given us a reliable engine this year and so it's going well we're happy with the decision that we've made, we're very happy with Renault.

"I think we'll benefit from having two teams on the grid next year, so they'll be focused on ourselves and themselves, and excited to have a long term future with them."

McLaren has undergone significant transformation in the past six months on the management front, with its technical department in particular the subject of changes that still need to be finalized.

Brown has hired highly-rated Toro Rosso technical director James Key, but the British engineer won't jump onboard until later next year.

"James will be with us next year," says the American executive.

"You'd rather have James working for us now than not, obviously.

"We've recruited him because he's immensely talented. However we knew that that was going to be the case and think that Pat Fry, Andrea Stella and the whole design team are working really well together.

"This is a part of the recovery journey and with that is getting the right people in place and that doesn't happen overnight so we're excited for him to start but he's had no input or communication that relates to the 2019 car."

Lowe says Williams will be better

Paddy Lowe
Paddy Lowe

Paddy Lowe returned to Williams in March 2017 and as we predicted his first car for the team was a flop and as a result, they ended the year last in the standings, the worst season in their history.

Riding on Aldo Costa's coattails at Mercedes, Englishman Paddy Lowe made himself into something he was not and the British media made Lowe look like the hero of the team, when in fact it was Costa who works quietly behind the scenes and does not want the publicity

Obviously heads rolled but somehow the Englishman survived to fight another season. According to him the team is in the process of major changes but has turned the corner, next year will be better he insists.

Speaking to Speedweek, Lowe provided insight into the situation at, “I came to Williams to make a difference but Formula 1 is a team sport."

“2018 was an extremely difficult year for Williams, but the good thing is people have recognized the problems and are working hard on them. I’m not going to make pinpoint predictions and say we will improve in the world championship, but I know we will be better. We have already completed the turnaround."

“Our last victory was back in 2012 with Pastor Maldonado in Spain and the last victory before that was in 2004. That was a long time ago."

“2014 was a good year, but we looked better than we really were because of the Mercedes engine. Other teams had a hard time at the beginning of the turbo era. So my conclusion: Our performance has been poor for years."

“There are a hundred reasons why I failed – in the race car, in the way we design and develop the car. And that’s the point, there is no panacea."

“We are working on all of them. It’s not just about investment, it’s about workflow, about design, about corporate culture. Things are changing at Williams but these things take time. "

“First of all, you need changes in the technical department, that’s the only way you can build a better car. Then you need changes in the organization but these do not take effect immediately."

“Furthermore, the other nine F1 teams know what they are doing. Each of these teams is very solid, with the brightest minds from the best universities. They are well managed, which was not always the case."

“Williams has been too static. We have excellent people with great experience. We are the third oldest team in Formula 1 and some employees have been with us for many, many years. This shows strong loyalty and that goes back to the personalities of Frank Williams and Patrick Head."

“But that can also be a disadvantage, sometimes you need a little fresh blood. We have to make sure that we have the skilled workers with the right knowledge to plot a new approach. We are currently on this journey."

“We are in the process of turning things upside down. No organization is perfect, in my opinion, but fortunately, we have the right foundation in place."

“We have Frank, we have experienced and loyal people, we have a great racing car factory, we own our own the land and all the buildings, which is not the case with all racing teams. We have a first-class wind tunnel. All the ingredients are there, now it’s all about how we use them," concluded Lowe.

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