One lap pace remains unknown – Bottas
Valtteri Bottas says that Mercedes one lap pace remains “unknown” because the team did not feel the need to discover it during pre-season testing.
Bottas’s teammate Lewis Hamilton set the teams fastest time during testing, but it was over a second off the outright fastest lap. While the Finn was a further tenth behind the two four times champions.
Mercedes, however, proved themselves to be reliable and topped the race simulations and mileage. The Finn says the mileage and long runs mean the teams one lap pace remains a mystery going into Melbourne.
He told Motorsport.com “The long runs and race simulation was very positive. We don’t think we’re anyway near one second ahead of everyone – that’s not the case. [But] it was positive.
“It’s nice to get some race simulation under my belt and feel the tyres and the car in the long run. There’s so much more time in testing to try different things in the car and get comfortable in there. Lewis is pretty much doing the same.” Bottas added the team didn’t feel a need to go for the maximum.
In recent year, Mercedes have opted for learning and mileage rather than outright pace in testing. Bottas says during the seven days of running he had learned a great deal about the competitive prospects of the 2018 car and had enjoyed “a lot more time for me to really focus on my performance on track with the set-up”.
Renault given willing headaches to itself
Renault’s chief technical officer Bob Bell says the French manufacturer has willingly given itself cooling “headaches” in the pursuit of improving the R.S.18’s aerodynamic performance.
The French manufacturer last season made a significant step forward, which has raised the teams’ expectations for this year. Bell says the team has “pushed like hell” on the chassis and had not compromised the car to aid cooling, that’s despite the further clamp down on engine components which can be used during the season.
Asked by Motorsport.com about the impact on car design, Bell said “If you look at the car and compare it to last year you’ll see we’ve gone even greater lengths to try to squeeze all the componentry together.”
“So no, we pushed like hell to get the maximum aerodynamic performance from the car and that means squeezing everything closer together and giving ourselves more headache with thermal management.”
On Friday the team suffered a gearbox problem which limited their running on the final day of testing. There have been some suggestions that the change of gearbox was complicated by the tighter packaging at the rear of the car.
As well as the repacked rear-end, Renault’s gearbox structure is stiffer and slightly lighter than last season. Renault technical director Nick Chester identified saving more weight as an important development area early in the coming season.
Chester added “We would still like to save weight, then carry more ballast and reduce the centre-of-gravity. That is something we will keep working on. A lot of it is through running mileage and working out what can live for long mileage.”
Raikkonen feels he could have gone faster
Kimi Raikkonen says that he believes that Ferrari’s 2018 car could have gone faster if it wanted to during pre-season testing. On Thursday, Sebastian Vettel broke the unofficial lap record at the Circuit de Catalunya – Barcelona.
While the Finn was only a tenth slower than his teammate on Friday, speaking after the test Raikkonen says he believes that the team has more pace to come. Asked by Motorsport.com, if Ferrari could be on pole in Melbourne, he said “We’ll see in two weeks. I’m sure if we want to go faster, we can, but it doesn’t mean anything here.”
“In two weeks everybody will know where everybody is. Until then, we are only guessing, like we were before testing started.” Raikkonen says he learnt a lot when he did his first race simulation on Friday.
Speaking about the car, he said “I think overall it’s a strong package. Obviously, there are always things to improve, and that’s normal with any car, even if you win races.”
Raikkonen was one of the drivers who was affected and hindered by the bad weather losing a day’s running before illness cost him further running forcing him to share a day with teammate Sebastian Vettel. On his final day, he managed serious mileage clocking up one hundred and fifty-seven laps.
He added “I guess you always wishing for a bit more here and there, doing laps and trying things, but it doesn’t matter how many laps you do, you always wonder.”
Toro Rosso can revise targets – Hartley
Brendon Hartley says Toro Rosso can revise their targets ahead of next weekends season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The Honda-powered manufacturer was a surprise as Honda made a big step forward in reliability allowing the team to be third in terms of mileage during testing. Hartley completed Friday’s final day of running with the seventh-fastest time, although team-mate Pierre Gasly put Toro Rosso third on Thursday.
Hartley told Autosport, “The initial brief was that Melbourne might be tough, but actually after these test days we’ve exceeded our own expectations and we’re definitely in the fight for those points.”
The New Zealander believes that the team can be somewhere in the fight while admitting that the midfield battle could be tough. However, has said the goal is to be in the points.
Asked if he felt the reliability of the Honda engines in testing meant the Japanese firm had silenced its doubters, Hartley replied: “I would have thought so. When I went to the factory a month ago, everyone was really optimistic and positive about this new partnership with Honda.”
Ferrari cannot hold F1 to ransom – Horner
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says that it is wrong for Ferrari to hold the sport to “ransom” with the threats they have made to quit the sport if the next set of engine regulations aren’t to their likening.
The teams and the sports owners Liberty Media are beginning to renegotiate the Concorde Agreement that expires at the end of December 2019. Ferrari has issued many warnings saying at if they aren’t happy with the new rules, they will quit, which Horner says that is just wrong.
Speaking to El Confidencial, Horner said “I think that is a disrespect to Ross Brawn, one of the most successful engineers in Formula One. I think Liberty has a good reasoning and understanding of the subject.”
“In the end, it’s their business and they have to decide what is good for the business.
“It can be good or bad for us, Ferrari or Mercedes, but it is they who must decide how they want Formula One to be.”
He added: “It’s inevitable that there are going to be two battlefields here. FOM and the FIA are going to have to outline the regulations.” Horner says that Liberty needs to decide what is good for the business.
Wache promoted to Red Bull’s technical director
Red Bull has promoted Dr Pierre Wache to the new post of technical director, in what the team are describing as “part of the evolution” of its structure.
Wache joined Red Bull as the chief performance engineer in 2013. The move doesn’t mean that the teams’ chief technical officer Adrian Newey is being replaced, but allows him to focus on the Valkyrie project, with the teams sponsor Aston Martin.
Speaking to Autosport team principal Christian Horner said: “Adrian remains CTO, Pierre has moved into a central role as technical director, and Rob Marshall’s position remains unchanged as chief engineering officer.”
Horner confirmed that the teams head of aero Dan Fallows and chief car engineer Paul Monaghan remain in their roles. Dr Wache has a PhD in fluid mechanics, and started his career at Michelin and then moved to Sauber in 2007.
As his Michelin history implies he’s a tyre and mechanical specialist, with his skill set complimenting that of aerodynamicist Newey. Speaking to the French newspaper L’Equipe, Dr Wache said “I understand what this position represents and the risk that comes with it. I won’t say it scares me.”
“But I know the results that are asked with it. And I would like to show that I’m capable of achieving them. I won’t change everything, but I will necessarily work differently.” He said that his focus would be on putting the power down on the ground, while Newey focuses on the aerodynamics.