Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Force India will change its name. How about the Pink Pussycats?
    Force India will change its name. How about the Pink Pussycats?

    Force India 'will change name' – Szafnauer

  • Ferrari to join Mercedes with 1000hp – report
  • Lowe backs 80kg minimum driver weight for 2019
  • Vasseur worried about cost caps
  • James Key: The Halo is something we'll just get used to
  • Brown: Renault have got the power
  • Ayrton Senna's winning McLaren-Ford F1 car to be sold at auction

Force India 'will change name' – Szafnauer
(GMM) Force India will be relaunched with a different name next month, boss Otmar Szafnauer has confirmed.

Earlier, British media reports claimed the Silverstone based team merely "could change" its name ahead of the 2018 season.

The move comes after bosses including Vijay Mallya, who is facing extradition from Britain to face charges in India, said the team needs to become more international.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the team name is definitely happening.

Indeed, a company called 'Force Formula 1 Team' was registered at Britain's Companies House last November 15, with Robert Fernley listed as the contact person.

The next step is ratification by the F1 Commission, before the name is announced officially at Force India's 2018 car launch in February.

"We have always said that we will change our team name," sporting boss Otmar Szafnauer confirmed.

"The name will change, and the plan is to announce it at the launch of the new car. But first we have to get it signed off by the F1 Commission," he added.

Force India – or 'Force' – intends to launch its 2018 car on February 25, the day before official testing begins in Barcelona.

When asked what the new name will be, Szafnauer said: "Let everyone be surprised!"

Ferrari to join Mercedes with 1000hp – report

Will the new Ferrari be faster than this 2017 model?
Will the new Ferrari be faster than this 2017 model?

(GMM) Ferrari looks set to join Mercedes in knocking on the door of 1000 horse power from its 2018-spec 'power unit'.

Earlier this month, we reported that Mercedes is now just 50hp shy of the landmark four-digit power value.

"If the world champions maintain their approximate development speed, 1000hp will be reached", a correspondent for Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claimed.

However, GPS measurements showed late last year that Ferrari only trailed Mercedes by 15hp with its own 2017 power unit.

And now Leo Turrini, a journalist known for being close to Ferrari, says the Maranello team is also knocking on the door of 1000hp for 2018.

"A huge effort has been made to put the power unit on a diet," he wrote in his Quotidiano blog.

"One of Mercedes' advantages was the lower weight of the overall package, but Ferrari has been successful in its mission.

"On the test bench, 1000hp has already been seen at maximum peak power," Turrini claimed, "even if Mercedes has already been there."

Turrini thinks Ferrari will have a good chance of taking on Mercedes on equal terms in 2018.

"On the aerodynamic side, tunnel data shows an important step, although it will only be possible to understand more at the first Barcelona tests," he said.

"But it's good to dream."

Lowe backs 80kg minimum driver weight for 2019

Lance Stroll is not a lightweight, so the min. weight rule will help him
Lance Stroll is not a lightweight, so the min. weight rule will help him

(GMM) F1 will end the controversial topic of driver weight by introducing a new rule for 2019.

Driver weight has been a thorny topic in recent years, as heavier cars put more pressure on bigger drivers to slim down.

But Auto Bild reports that the FIA will end the controversy for 2019 by introducing a minimum 'driver plus seat' weight of 80kg.

If the driver-seat combination tips the scales below 80kg, tungsten ballast will be added to the bottom of the seat, the report added.

The move has reportedly been made to ward off further pressure on the drivers to lose weight, particularly with the introduction of heavy Halo devices in 2018.

Referring to the 80kg minimum driver weight for 2019, Williams' technical boss Paddy Lowe told Auto Bild: "I think it's a good thing.

"For good reason, many drivers have been asking for this for years. Especially in the case of young drivers, constantly being forced to lose weight can lead to health problems," he added.

Vasseur worried about cost caps

Frederic Vasseur
Frederic Vasseur

Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur has admitted he is "scared" that a Formula 1 cost cap could leave the sport open to ridicule because of potential difficulties in policing it.

Although his small Swiss outfit would be one of the main beneficiaries of any move to cut the spending of the big teams over the long term, he is cautious about how such plans are introduced.

In particular, he has concerns that a simple budget cap may not be the right way to do it, especially if there was a risk of spending limits becoming the main talking point in the paddock.

"If we have the same money as the top teams we will close the gap," Vasseur told

"But I don't know if we have to do that by regulations – like with some standard parts. Then the biggest teams will be able to spend the same as now, but only for marginal gains.

"We could go with financial monitoring, but I am a bit scared about this. On paper it could work but then you have to see how we are able to monitor it during the season to avoid being in a situation that we have in the news or on websites that Ferrari or Mercedes spent 10 Euros more than is allowed.

"Something like that, for the show and the image of F1, would be a worst case scenario, because at this stage – for the fans – the bad side of F1 is that it has become a matter of budgets. And if all together we are only talking about budgets, it would be a nightmare."

Vasseur thinks that some form of cost control is essential, but believes the best way forward would be through limiting opportunities for bigger teams to find performance through extra spending.

"If you want to have a cost cap at $150 million, then it will not affect Force India, it will not affect us, and it will not affect a majority of the teams," he said.

"If you exclude the drivers and marketing, it will be just for the top three teams.

"The best way would be to do it through regulation: limiting the necessary budget to be performant through regulation.

"Mercedes will always be able to spend much more than us, which is fine. But at least you have to give the opportunity for the small teams to be in a position to fight for podiums.

"If you want a good teaser at the start of the race, then it is that [Esteban] Ocon or [Sergio] Perez could be on a podium at every race if they do a good job.

"At the moment you have two Mercedes, two Ferraris and two Red Bulls, and that is a bit boring."

James Key: The Halo is something we'll just get used to

Vettel testing the Halo at COTA
Vettel testing the Halo at COTA

Love it or loathe it the Halo cockpit safety device is here to stay. as they will mandatory from the moment Formula 1 cars turn a wheel in anger for pre-season testing in Barcelona next month.

Toro Rosso technical chief James Key predicts that they will not be such an eye-sore as the prototype versions that were tested last year and it will become part-and-parcel of future Formula 1 cars which fans will eventually get used to.

Key told Racer, “We’ll have to see how it goes. I think with the aero bits on it then [the Halo] will look slightly more Formula 1, let’s say, than the frames we saw before. They will be a little bit more refined visually, because teams have had time to work a bit on optimizing the aerodynamics around them."

“My gut feeling is it’s something we’ll just get used to. There will be talk and all sorts of opinions I’m sure – all of them no doubt valid – but I think ultimately it’s just something we’ll get used to, and we’ll get back to worrying about the racing pretty quickly."

Toro Rosso successfully completed the mandatory FIA crash-tests for the STR-13 which were trickier than they had been in the past because of the introduction of the Halo and the tests tweaked to incorporate the device.

Key explained, “I think it was harder for two reasons, really. One is that it is a new test and so there’s always some unknowns, there’s no historic reference you can take with something as new and very different as the Halo tests compared to before."

“And also because they’re quite tough tests, as well. Clearly, this has to be a very robust frame around the driver, and that requires some quote heavy loading and tricky conditions applied to it to make sure it complies."

“It was certainly quite a new test and new set of requirements to take on board for chassis design, and obviously everyone’s a little nervous the first time you try it, but I’m glad to say it worked as planned," added Key.

Brown: Renault have got the power

If Renault has the power then the two McLaren cars should be fighting for pole every weekend
If Renault has the power then the two McLaren cars should be fighting for pole every weekend

Last year Renault power units were hardly the most reliable pieces of kit on the Formula 1 grid last year, but this is a risk McLaren are prepared to take in their quest to return to the sharp end of proceedings in 2018 after three years of frustration and below par performances.

McLaren chief Zak Brown explained the reasoning behind the pragmatic approach they will take with their new F1 engine supplier, “I think we’ve got lots of concerns going into every racing season, not just power unit. Ultimately we’re very confident."

“[Renault have] got the power, they’ve demonstrated that they’ve got the power. They’ve had some reliability issues when they’ve turned the power on. You saw that in Mexico, someone said to me that they blew up four engines – yeah, but they did dominate the race."

“We want to get back to the front of the field. We know motor racing – performance can cause some reliability issues. We think they’re on top of it, they think they’re on top of it and they think they have identified what the issues were."

“I’m sure we’ll have an engine issue at some point during this year, but that’s racing. We just hope not to have too many and we hope we have them at the front of the field."

“That would be a big improvement. We’ve got to rebound now so we need to set expectations; we’re not going to go back to challenge for the championship. And a Formula 1 team is more than just the power unit."

“So, no more concerns than I think anyone would have at any race course at the start of any season of any unknowns, but they know what they’re doing. They’ve won six championships in the last 13 years, so they’re very close," Brown pointed out.

Ayrton Senna's winning McLaren-Ford F1 car to be sold at auction

Senna at Monaco in 1993 in the McLaren MP4/8 Chassis 6 up for auction
Senna at Monaco in 1993 in the McLaren MP4/8 Chassis 6 up for auction

Ayrton Senna's Monaco Grand Prix-winning Formula One car will be sold at auction at the Bonhams Monaco sale this May, 25 years after he drove it to victory at the legendary city circuit.

The car, a 1993 McLaren-Ford MP4/8, chassis 6, is expected to fetch approximately $5.5m when it goes under the hammer on 11 May. It will also be on view at Le Grand Palais, Paris, in February.

Senna's win in Monaco with this car was his sixth at the famous city circuit. He beat Damon Hill in a Williams-Renault and Jean Alesi in a Ferrari, while Alain Prost – who would win that year's Drivers' championship – came fourth.

This despite a crash that injured the Brazilian's thumb on the Thursday and a mechanical problem with the car's active suspension on the Saturday. It was to be Senna's last season with McLaren.

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