Hulkenberg denies being “slack” as Palmers teammate
Nico Hulkenberg denies he was “slack” when he had Jolyon Palmer as his teammate at Renault, saying that Carlos Sainz’s arrival at the team has made no difference to his efforts.
As part of the swap of engine supply between McLaren and Toro Rosso, Sainz’s move to Renault was brought forward to the end of last season to replace Jolyon Palmer. But Hulkenberg insists that the change of teammate had no impact on how hard he was pushing.
Hulkenberg told Motorsport.com “I think it would be unprofessional if I would have had some slack at the beginning of the season because I was just safe.”
“I don’t think if I take the first half of the season, and any of my qualifying laps, that I would have found significantly more time if I would have had another teammate closer to me.” Hulkenberg is convinced that it was not like that, acknowledging the fact that him and Sainz were a very strong pairing for Renault in 2018.
He says they are both pushing themselves and each other to benefit the team. Saying that having two guys both pushing for the team is really important for the team.
Sainz added he had “already seen differences” he could learn from by watching Hulkenberg working with Renault in the final part of 2017. “Everything is going to help I’m sure,” he said.
“I want to be up against a guy that has seven or eight years in Formula 1 that’s really settled nicely into a team like Nico has over the last year.” Sainz believes that they will be able to push each other hard because they need to push the team forward.
Sauber hopes for “big leap” – Ericsson
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson says that the team’s use of a 2018 spec Ferrari power unit will be a “big leap” for the team after contesting last season with a 2016 power unit.
This season the Swiss team will have a closer relationship with Ferrari after a multiyear deal with sister manufacturer Alfa Romeo. The deal includes strategic, commercial and technological cooperation, enhancing an arrangement that already included the use of the latest specification engine.
Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur, who cancelled a Honda engine deal to go with new Ferrari power units, said the team had aerodynamic deficiencies as well as an engine deficit last season.
Ericsson told Autosport during an event with Formula Medicine this week he is “confident” of significant progress from the car overall. He told the magazine, “I think it’s a big leap to have the same engine as Ferrari. The team have a lot of confidence and a desire to do well.”
“I got to see the car in a computer rendering and it seems very beautiful – it should be an important step forward. Alfa Romeo’s partnership means the return of a historic brand to F1.” Last season, the team finished bottom of the constructors after using a year old power unit.
This season, Ericsson will be partnered by Formula Two champion and Ferrari academy driver Charles Leclerc, who believes that the team can establish themselves as midfield runners immediately.
Saying “We’re up against Haas and Toro Rosso. I think next season will be very unpredictable in some races. It could go very well and at points, we could also challenge Renault and Force India.”
“But there will be other races where there will be problems and we will be further down.” Leclerc added the goal was simply to establish them in the midfield.
Act decisively to avoid political turbulence – Brown
McLaren boss Zak Brown says that Formula One must act decisively if it wants to keep the political turbulence created by the current discussions about the next set of engine regulations to a minimum.
As Liberty Media enters its first full year in charge of the sport there, next challenge is to look at the long-term vision with regards to regulations and the renegotiation of the Concorde Agreement, which deals with the commercial rights and prize money.
Brown said while he expects turbulence this year, he has warned that the political standoff cannot continue for too long. Saying “”It’s definitely going to be turbulent, the negotiations for 2021 and beyond. I think they’re doing all the right things commercially”
“It would be unfair to think they will to score a 10/10 on everything. They’re going to learn but I’m happy with all the efforts and incremental things they’re trying.”
“I think the FIA and Liberty need to move quickly so we can have as little or as short a time of negotiations because they will be turbulent, so the longer that goes the more disruptive it becomes.” Brown says that the sport needs to be prepared for new manufacturers and teams.
While three of the four manufacturers are in agreement on the engine proposals, they have differing views on a future cost cap and the planned redistribution of revenues.
Away from the manufacturers, teams such as McLaren and Red Bull also hold strong views on the key areas F1 management wants to address.
Brown believes Liberty and the FIA need to be clearer in explaining the finer details of its vision if it wants manufacturers and teams to converge on a set of ideas.
Halo can withstand a double-decker bus
Mercedes technical director James Allison says the Halo head protection device can take the weight of a double-decker bus. However, added that incorporating into the car has posed a “significant challenge” due to its weight and impact on aerodynamics.
In a video released online, the Mercedes chief has revealed the level of force the new-look car needs to withstand. He said, “We had to strengthen the design of the chassis so it would be able to take roughly the weight of a London double-decker bus sitting on the top of this halo.”
“To make sure it would be strong enough to withstand the type of event that it’s designed to protect the driver’s head against.” The device has been manufactured by a Dutch company so that all teams run a standardised version. However, teams are allowed to add fairings to improve aerodynamics.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul admitted his team viewed the halo as “heavy and not very nice aesthetically” but was confident the look of the safety device would improve in years to come.
Allison agrees that F1 will find ways to make the halo more visually appealing. He added “Nothing in Formula 1 stands still for long and we will all be taking this first go and trying to improve it.”
Kyalami open to returning if costs are lower
The Kyalami circuit, which held the South African Grand Prix between 1965-1985 and 1992-1993 is unlikely to return to the calendar any time in the near future because of the high costs of hosting a modern-day Grand Prix.
The circuit near Johannesburg was renovated in 2014, bringing it nearer to modern standards. That raised the speculation it might be targeting a return to the calendar. However, circuit chiefs do not believe such a return is possible at this stage.
circuit spokesperson Christo Kruger said “Kyalami would welcome Formula One at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit again. We think there’s a heritage that we would like to see back again. I also think the African continent deserves an actual Formula One race again.”
Kruger added that the cost and financially feasible in the current structure. Also, they would be open to making changes however they want to see financially feasible in the current structure.
He said “we are prepared to enter into negotiations and discussions to upgrade or to change the actual the circuit to what is palatable for Formula One racing.”
“It’s an FIA grade two track at the moment, we will upgrade to grade one but there needs to be commitment in terms of a long-term future for Formula One in South Africa”