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F1 Today – Second Test Special – 05/03/2018

Engine parity rules not aimed at  Mercedes

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that the push for engine parity between manufacturers and their customers is not aimed at the German manufacturer as it has “never” limited the modes and parameters available to customers Williams and Force India.

In January, the sports governing body issued a technical directive requiring the manufacturers to supply all their customers have identical hardware and software so they could be operated in the same way.

The directive also says that customers must also receive identical fuel and oil specifications as works cars, unless they have opted out by choosing a different supplier, for example, because of commercial reasons.

Rumours in the paddock have suggested that the move is aimed at Mercedes rather than the other manufacturers. However, Wolff is adamant that neither Williams, not Force India have lobbied the FIA on the subject. Wolff told Motorsport.com, “I don’t think any of our customers was pushing for it,”

“It’s not relevant for us, because the rules have been in place for a while that you must supply the customers with the same hardware and software from a power unit standpoint, and we’ve always done that.”

Wolff also says that the customer teams have also always had the same way as the works team. He says that they have never had any different and customers have always had identical modes.

He added “We have the belief that sharing modes and engine calibration among six cars triggers a steeper learning curve for us than running different engine specifications between the customers and the works team.”

Wolff also insisted that the customers are never a step behind on Petronas fuel specifications.

 

Williams denies it was behind engine directive

Williams has denied the suggestions that they pressured the FIA to issue the technical directive around engine parity.

In January, the sports governing body issued a technical directive requiring the manufacturers to supply all their customers have identical hardware and software so they could be operated in the same way.

It was suggested during pre-season testing by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner that the directive was sort by Williams after he told the press to “go and speak to Claire Williams” where the new focus on parity had come from.

But Williams has denied lobbying the FIA on the issue.

“Contrary to comments made recently in the press, we refute any suggestion that we have questioned the parity of the power units provided by Mercedes-AMG HPP,” Williams said in a statement.

“We are absolutely confident that the power units used by Mercedes, Force India and ourselves are identical in terms of both hardware and software.

“We have an excellent professional and personal relationship with Mercedes, and our focus is firmly on continuing the good work that we have started, as we prepare for the final test in Barcelona this week ahead of the new season.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff did not believe either of their customer teams, Williams and Force India, had lobbied the FIA and insisted both teams had always received identical power units to the world champions.

“Identical modes for the customers and us. There has never been any difference. They have the same mileage allowance as the works team, there is no difference whatsoever,” he told Motorsport.com.

 

Toro Rosso has a responsibility to Honda

Toro Rosso technical director James Key says the team has “heavy responsibility” to help engine supplier Honda in making progress this season. Following the Japanese manufacturers spilt with McLaren, Toro Rosso has become a works team for the first time in its history.

The first week of the partnership has seen considerable improvement from Honda compared to the last three years, when McLaren was hampered by major engine failures and the least mileage of any team.

Toro Rosso was also forced to redesign their gearbox and the rear of its chassis to accommodate the Honda power unit, which requires different packaging to the Renault due to its split-turbo design. That would have required a major redesign which the team has pulled off.

Speaking to ESPN, Key said, “I think what we’ve found with the Honda engine installation is that it’s fundamentally different to Renault’s — there’s no commonality possibilities there really.”

“The chassis design is obviously different, the gearbox is different as well. It’s all been done by us in that respect.” He says being a works team has made a difference as they have had extra resources but that comes with responsibilities.

“We began rig testing of certain engine relating systems on the chassis side back in November. We were dyno testing the gearbox in December and have been ever since, both in Milton Keynes initially and Japan as well, so we’ve got gearboxes in Japan and Milton Keynes too.”

He added that smooth start to testing was no surprise as Honda were desperate for it to work. Key, however, was cautious as its only testing and any stoppages so far have been Toro Rosso problems and not Honda.

 

Prixview – Second Barcelona Test

Tomorrow the teams begin the second pre-season test in Barcelona. Expect the gap to remain close between the top three teams, but if Red Bull’s form over the past few years could mean they might slip away from the front.

As ever caution has to remain in place, we do not know what set up, fuel loads and aero packages the teams are running. Do they look towards Melbourne now as they only have two weeks until the opening race and there is not another test until the third Barcelona test in May.

Can McLaren get on top of the reliability problems; they cannot blame Renault at this stage, as there haven’t been problems for either Red Bull or the works Renault team. This is not like Toro Rosso, they have a 2018 Renault power unit and that suggests then that they have made their own problems.

By the end of Friday, I think we will have an understanding of the pack and where teams are at this stage. However, at a race weekend your under pressure to perform because the championship is on the line.

The circuit has a mixture of high-speed corners and long straights, this plays to the straights of Mercedes and Ferrari, but Red Bull appear not far off either. Mercedes have won three out of the last four races. But in testing last season, it proved very favourable to Ferrari and that proved to last all season.

 

Plans for radical calendar shake-up

Liberty Media has put plans for a radical shake-up of the Formula One calendar on hold. The sports owners had suggested regional groupings of races to boost the popularity of the sport while reducing costs.

Managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches had suggested a calendar which started in Europe before shifting to the Americas and then ending in Asia. There had been suggestions that could of begun next season, however, Australia’s desire to remain the opener and Abu Dhabi wanting the finale slot have put it on the back burner.

“From an aspirational standpoint, I am an optimist – but I am also a realist, and based on some of the contractual commitments we have, and based on weather issues, it will be a while before we can get there – if we can [at all],” Bratches told Autosport.

Bratches says that they are trying to create a sport which is more efficient and reduces travel expenses. He says that could create opportunities for regional sponsorship deals.

One of Liberty’s aims has been increasing the number of races, but the reported figure of twenty-five per season has been played down by CEO Chase Carey.

A number of teams have frequently expressed concerns about the impact that would have on their travelling staff.

“We don’t have a target number of races. We certainly could add races, we’ve got a lot of places that would like to have races. But I think there are actually quite a number that would be real positives for us.”

He says the focus should be quality of races and getting the races to engage with local partners, cities and the public beyond race weekends. Which he believes will happen as deals are renewed.

 

Halo annoying, ugly, awkward – Magnussen

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen says that the Halo is still annoying, ugly, awkward and could cause problems at corners like Eau Rouge, From pre-season testing the use of the head protection device became mandatory.

While some of the critics of the Halo have reluctantly accepted the introduction of the device, the Dane remains frustrated. Speaking to Motorsport.com Magnussen said “It’s very annoying. Ugly. Difficult to get into the car, difficult to get out of the car, difficult to get the steering wheel on and off, just awkward and annoying.”

Though he ruled out seeing the lights at the start, Magnussen has suggested that there could be some types of corners where it could be a distraction. Saying that in corners like chicanes it could be distracting as you need to move your eye across the pillar.

When asked if it could be problematic when racing wheel to wheel, he said that corners with elevation changes could prove problematic at corners like Eau Rouge at Spa and Austin’s first corner.

IndyCar has diverged from F1 and is trialling a windscreen as a halo alternative, but Magnussen said he would be little happier with that. Magnussen said “It looks a lot nicer but I’m not even really a fan of that. It’s better than our halo but I just don’t think there should be anything.”

 

The Week Ahead

As we have talked about already tomorrow is the start of the second pre-season test in Barcelona. This week, the bigger teams will have brought upgrades already but the question is can any of them begin to pull away at the front? On the other hand, does the close gap at the front remain?

By the end of this week, I think we will have a clear idea of where the teams are. As for the news agenda, again that will be dominated by the testing with reaction from teams and can McLaren begin to come into play?

Off the track, we have the third World Council Meeting, which could clear up this row about T-Wings which could also erupt during testing. We will continue to watch for the financial results for 2017 which could prove value insights into how much the medium/small teams have. It also will show how much last year’s regulations changes cost the teams.

Jack Fielding
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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