Red Bull have aero fixes for Barcelona
Red Bull believe that they will have fixes to their aerodynamic issues by the Spanish Grand Prix, following encouraging results in testing during this week.
The challenging race in Bahrain for both its drivers Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly highlighted the ‘tricky’ handling of the RB15, which appears to have a very narrow set-up window. Red Bull believes that the handling problems are down to small details, rather than bigger issues.
During the test, Verstappen topped the times on the opening day, before Dan Ticktum took over for the second day of action. However, despite insisting there was no immediate fix, motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko insisted it will not take long to get it sorted.
He told Motorsport.com: “In Bahrain, we identified a weakness in the aerodynamics. We think we know the cause and have already implemented amendments. Verstappen’s time on Tuesday was quite okay. It’s not a conceptual problem, but a detail thing – and it’s not for the first time it has happened. But the wind in Bahrain multiplied it.”
Asked about if the team understood what it needed to do, and when a solution could be ready, Marko said: “We do know the cause, yes. But the extent to which we can correct this for China is not clear as of today.”
Marko believe that it has taken until now to understand the weaknesses of the car is because pre-season testing at Barcelona was compromised by the team losing new parts when Pierre Gasly crashed on the penultimate day.
He added, “It is all a consequence of us running an interim version of our car at the final day of testing in Barcelona. We did not have the complete package available after Gasly’s crash.”
Never seen before fault caused Leclerc’s power loss
Ferrari says that the cause of Charles Leclerc’s sudden loss of power while leading the Bahrain Grand Prix. A examination by the team has shown that his car suffered a “short circuit within an injection system control unit.”
The team have confirmed Leclerc will use the same power unit again at next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. The Monacan was on course to a dominant ten second maiden win when with eleven laps to go he suddenly suffered a loss of power.
However, Leclerc limped his Ferrari home in third after a late Safety Car denied Max Verstappen and Red Bull the chance to sneak onto the podium.
If he had won the race, would of capped an impressive weekend and added to his maiden pole, as well as a great recovery drive to re-take the lead of the race and build a good lead, after slipping behind the Mercedes early on.
He topped two of the three practice sessions and every part of qualifying on his way to a first pole position in F1, and he had recovered from slipping to third after a poor start to build up a healthy lead.
Leclerc told Sky Sports, “[The team] have given us a great car during the weekend and for that, they should be proud. During the race we were extremely strong then the issue happened and a big disappointment for me and the whole team not to finish where we should have been.”
Overtaking could double in 2019
Simulations to look at the impact of the changes to the aerodynamic regulations indicate that overtaking this season could double at some races this season.
Regulation changes including simpler front wings, bargeboards and brake ducts, plus a simpler and wider rear wing, have been introduced this season attempting to create closer racing and improve the effectiveness of the DRS.
While in Melbourne it appeared to have little success, but in Sakhir, at a more conventional circuit, the changes appeared to be more effective. This suggests that the impact of the changes could be circuit dependent.
In the FIA’s Magazine released this week and written before last weekend, technical head of single seaters, Nikolas Tombazis said “We were not expecting a huge delta in Australia, which is a difficult track at which to overtake in any case.”
“Some simulations were showing a +10% increase of overtaking, assuming a similar evolution of a race, of course. In other races, the same simulations expect a more sizeable increase, possibly to the tune of +50%.” He says that the full effectiveness of the changes will not become clear until later in the year.
The regulation changes were not expected to show their effectiveness in Melbourne, admitted Tombazis. However, he says that the race did show that they were going in the right direction.
Tombazis described the wider rear wing, which has resulted in a much bigger gain from utilising the DRS, as a “safe bet” to complement the other changes to address “a worsening trend”. He admits that its not perfect and that there were things which could have been slightly different.
He added “Overall, I’m pleased with the direction of the aerodynamic characteristics. I certainly don’t think we have arrived at the final destination point and we can never sit back and say, ‘OK, it’s all fine’.”
Racing Point’s £25m factory plan
Racing Point are submitting plans to Northamptonshire Council later this month to build a £25 million factory on its base at Silverstone. The team are hoping that permission is approved and building work can begin by the end of the year.
The team are hoping to have the new factory built within the next two years. On Thursday, the April edition of F1 Racing team prinpcal Otmar Szafnauer said “This is a new chapter, the dawn of a new era and there is huge energy from the shareholders to invest and help the team become a regular podium contender in the future.”
“The team has never been more stable or in better hands and this project aims to attract and retain the best staff in Formula 1.” The team has been based at the circuit since it was founded as Jordan in 1991, and has out grown it base because off the number of staff needed in F1 today.
In the last decade, its staff has grown from 280 to 425, and the team are looking to create 180 new jobs by 2021-22. When the consortium, headed up by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, took over Force India in the summer, one of the priorities was to look at developing the Dadford Road base.
The team has been currently working from a extra site in Brackley and the plan is to build a temporary base at Silverstone until 2022 and stop renting out industrial units close to its current base.
The team’s philosophy has been to outsource much of the construction of its chassis, but the plan for the new facility is to create a manufacturing centre of excellence to bring car build in-house.
But for some, it will be seen as a boost in UK manufacturing despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit and political instability. Stroll has also announced twelve new jobs.
Williams posts profits despite difficulties
The Williams Group has posted an increase in revenues in its results for 2018, despite its worst seasons in Formula One. The British group posted a pre-tax profit of £176.5m, up from £10.3m in 2017, before Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 12.9 million, up from 10.8 in 2017
The F1 team saw just over a £5m rise in revenue up from £125.6m to £130.7m. Williams said the one-off item was non-recurring but gave no details.
However, the impact of the change in backers, following Lawrence Stroll’s purchase of Force India has not yet been seen. 2018 was the worst season for its F1 team, only scoring seven points finishing tenth in the constructors.
Group CEO Mike O’Driscoll said, “Unfortunately, we struggled to maintain the pace of technical development and endured a difficult season. There is a very large gap in competitive expenditure between the leading teams and the rest of the grid.”
“But we are increasingly hopeful that Liberty Media’s long-term vision and plans for the future of the sport can deliver a more level playing field on which all teams can compete fairly.”
Kubica a “passenger” because of Williams issues
Robert Kubica says that he is a “passenger” until Williams resolves its ongoing problems with the teams 2019 car. The Pole has battled with the handling of his car following damage to his car in FP1 in Melbourne.
The team’s data suggesting that the repaired car was displaying different aerodynamic behaviour in Bahrain, despite Kubica and teammate George Russell both running the same set up. Following a strong opening stint, Kubica’s pace fell away badly in the second half as his tyres degraded.
He described his race in Melbourne as one of “survival” after he finished in sixteenth. He told Motorsport.com, “Australia by running over one kerb where everybody took it, I lost pieces of the car. In Bahrain, I stay out of the kerbs. The time in qualifying I use them, another bit flew away.”
“And then in the race, actually I realised I’m not using them, or I’m using them only because I was put there, I don’t use them as a track. If you start tightening up corners, you put more load on the tyres. It is a complicated situation.”
He is however is hopefully that one day they can forget about the issues and be more solid. But until then he needs to focus on his driving and that they need to find out what is going on.
Kubica is concerned that the delays in winter testing could delay the solution to the issues with the teams car. Adding “I can only try to help it with the tools – I tried to do everything with the diff settings, with the settings you have on the steering wheel – but it’s so big it’s impossible to turn it around.”
The Week Ahead
Next week F1 heads to China for the third race of the season and this could be a real test for Ferrari. The team will still be trying to put the message out that the mistakes by Sebastian Vettel are behind them, they really need a good weekend. Ferrari will be trying to spin this positively for there lead driver, but Charles Leclerc could steal his spotlight.
This week is the final countdown to the 1,000th Grand Prix, this may mean a period of reflection and looking forwards for the sport. I imagine we may hear so big announcements about the future, China was chosen by Liberty to host this race because it’s a key growth market for the sport as well as the manufacturers.
Key announcements could include contract extensions, new races as well as adding another race in China.
Brexit, yes again, teams continue to watch this saga and with a month till the first EU race of the season they don’t know about the logistics going between the UK and EU. This could majorly impact on moving cars to and from the continent as well as personnel.