F1 agrees to a new deadline for 2021 regulations
F1 owners Liberty Media, the FIA, teams and GPDA have agreed to delay the publication of the 2021 regulation changes until October. All ten teams, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg attended the meeting in Paris where it was agreed to push back the deadline.
The March deadline was extended to April, then June and the failure to agree to the rules have drawn comparisons with Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK, both now due on 31st October.
A statement from the governing body said “While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship’s key stakeholders feel the core objectives outlined for the future set of regulations of the championship have been defined.”
“In the interests of the sport, it was agreed that the best outcome will be achieved by using the extra time for further refinement and additional consultation.” Negotiations likely continue through the monthly strategy group as well as race by race.
The biggest issue in the regulations centres around a cost cap of around £150m, the bigger teams want a higher cap with the smaller teams looking for a lower cap. The other issue is how do the bigger teams reduce it to that level.
The original cap was due to be £125m per season that has risen to £175m.
The exclusions from the cost cap exclude salaries of drivers and three executive’s and marketing and race weekend travel costs. For the top three teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, this is a significant drop from the £250-350m they currently spend.
The five top teams Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Haas all signed up to the rules, but Alfa Romeo, McLaren, Racing Point, Renault and Williams believe it is a back-door attempt by big teams to water down cost restrictions.
However, all agree that the sporting and technical rules are not ready for publication. The reason for the delay also stops the bigger teams gaining an advantage before the restrictions come in.
Changes to the sporting regulations are also on the table, with tweaks to the grand prix weekend format set to be introduced.
The teams will not sign off on a delay to the sporting and technical regulations without the budget cap being secured this month.
Ferrari unable to match Mercedes – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton believes that Ferrari’s power mode is unable to match Mercedes at the moment. Hamilton’s Mercedes team has won all of the seven races, including in controversial circumstances last weekend in Canada.
Sebastian Vettel is now sixty-two points behind Hamilton, who is adamant that Mercedes has a clear engine deficit to Ferrari. The five-times champion told Motorsport.com “They were so quick on the straights.”
“They definitely have another power mode that we currently don’t have. So, all of a sudden they turn up the power and he pulls away massively on the straight, even if I have DRS open.”
Hamilton insisted that it was not his “assumption” because there was clear evidence in Canada that Mercedes was losing as much as six tenths on the straights. Vettel was told to go to ‘Engine Mode 1′ when he was chasing more performance during the Canadian GP.
Hamilton added “In the race, I know all of a sudden they pick up a lot of pace on the straights [as well] but that’s the name of the game. They’ve clearly done a great job with their power unit.”
“There used to be a point where Mercedes was ahead in that area by a good chunk. We’ve got work to do there. They are ahead of us at the moment there.”
Ferrari’s straight-line performance is also boosted by its aerodynamic concept, having chased more efficient performance compared to Mercedes’ greater peak downforce.
Hamilton said he was pleased that he had not “left anything on the table” after pressuring Vettel into the error that ultimately cost the German driver the win.
Small gains big difference – Verstappen
Max Verstappen believes “a bit more power and balance” will make Red Bull and Honda’s situation look “a lot” in the next few races.
The Dutchman has scored two podiums in the first seven races and would have three top-three finishes had he not lost his second place in Monaco due to a time penalty. But in Montreal, Red Bull had a difficult weekend after Verstappen missed Q3, and finished fifth.
However, he doesn’t believe the power-sensitive Montreal circuit exposed anything problematic for his team or Honda. Addressing a claim by his father Jos had indicated he could leave Red Bull in 2020, Verstappen told Motorsport.com “I always said I’m enjoying myself.
“Of course we all know that we need to do better but I believe in the project we are in together with Honda. So, we are just working hard now to of course step up the performance and we’ll see in the upcoming races where we will be.”
“If you get a bit more power, a bit more balance in the car, then suddenly it looks a lot different.” Honda has already introduced its Spec-2 engine in Baku, meaning a final unit is likely to be introduced at some point over the next three Grand Prix’s.
on the chassis side, Red Bull has been trying to make progress after admitting its car is lacking compared to the championship-leading Mercedes. Verstappen admits that has created a power deficit which may have bigger consequences on certain tracks than last year and that the team has not had “a big shock” in such scenarios.
Adding “I knew [Montreal] was not going to be great. Last year we were quite competitive but I think back then our car was quite a lot better than the Mercedes and Ferrari and now I wouldn’t say we are superior to them.
Renault believes it back in the game
Renault says its best rest result of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix has put it “back in the game” to pull ahead of the midfield battle.
The French manufacturer bounced back from its reliability problems in the early races when Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth and seventh. The double points finished has moved it into fifth in the constructors, just two points behind customer team McLaren in the fight for best of the rest behind the top three.
The performance has made F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes that was the best the team could manage but hopes it will act as a springboard for more success in the coming races. Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “It’s a good team result, it’s the best that we could expect at this point, it puts us back in the game, very close from the McLarens.”
“It’s also good because it was simply a weekend that has happened without an issue, that developed itself without any particular problem. And therefore we see what’s possible if we are capable of doing that.”
Abiteboul is aware that the team has a quick car, but problems like reliability, incidents and strategy errors, have hidden its potential. In Canada, the team finally showed what was possible when it gets everything right.
Adding “It’s just another demonstration of all the issues and the way that all the issues that we’ve had early in the season have impacted us.” His blueprint is for a perfect weekend, with no mistakes is and perfect execution.
He believes, while Canada was frustrating the upgrade for Le Castelett will fix the engine woes and deliver better performance.
Haas must end misfortunes
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says “there must be an end” to the team’s misfortunes this season. The US owned team has often been the fourth fastest car but has often struggled to score points leaving it eighth in the championship.
Montreal was the fourth time this season the team has failed to score points. Kevin Magnussen’s crash in qualifying left him struggling for much of the race where he finished fourteenth.
Steiner told Autosport, “We cannot catch a break. It was one of those disastrous weekends, it started in Q2, and didn’t finish. The only thing we can do is regroup and try to do better next time around. There must be an end to it.”
“I think there is a point where you can’t get more annoyed – I wouldn’t say even depressed, because you don’t get depressed – but there must be an end, there must be an upward trend somewhere because you cannot get any worse. I hope that point comes soon.”
Steiner admitted Grosjean would have still struggled for pace, even if he hadn’t at even if Grosjean had not been involved in the first corner incidents, he would have struggled because his car lacked consistent pace.
Steiner added “It was up and down, his pace. A few laps it was going, then it wasn’t going. It was completely all over the place. It isn’t like if he wouldn’t have had that [first lap problem], we would have finished in the points anyway.”
Grosjean has only scored two points so far this year but said he still felt like he was in a better situation than in the first half of 2018.
“No magic” in eighteenth – Kubica
Robert Kubica says there was “no magic” after “took too many risks” as he struggled to keep his Williams on track to take eighteenth place in the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Polish driver made a good start, briefly running as high as fifteenth ahead of teammate George Russell. However, handling issues from the start explaining that the car was steering itself under braking. Like Russell, Kubica has been classified in all seven races of 2019, although never higher than 16th.
He explained to Motorsport.com, “Unfortunately there is no magic,” Kubica said. “Qualifying was already difficult with handling, and generally I have no grip, so with high fuel and track conditions hotter, and longer stints, it was even more difficult.”
“Often the car was turning without really turning the steering wheel, just on the braking, and I don’t know what to say honestly. It has been very difficult to keep it on track. Often the car was turning without really turning the steering wheel, just on the braking, and I don’t know what to say honestly.”
He said it wasn’t in a dangerous position but was left unable to push, and took to many risks. Kubica admitted that he couldn’t stay ahead of Russell after beating him away.
Adding “A small fight, I overtook him into Turn One, and then he got me on the straight line, and that was it. But already on lap one I arrived into Turn 6 and Turn 8 really sideways before even turning the car. So it was difficult.”
Russell was much happier with his afternoon, and was at least able to keep some faster cars behind him in the early laps. Saying “The car was feeling relatively nice to drive.”
“We maximised the package, we just need to bolt some downforce on it now. We’ve got to be pleased that we the race team maximised the car we had.” The Englishman believes the car was nicer to drive which shows progress.
The Week Ahead
Next week Formula One heads to Le Castellett for the French Grand Prix, one of the biggest stories will be the failure to break the deadlock over the next set of regulations. I imagine we will hear more reaction from the teams and Liberty on where we are in the negotiations from there angels.
France is, of course, the home race for Renault, so you have to say the pressure and the questions will be on why they’re not delivering. We know that they want to use Montreal as the blueprint for moving forwards and challenge for fourth.
Mercedes are likely to be the favourites, but there will be questions about Ferrari not being able to fight them. The next seven weeks are also key for Valtteri Bottas in his fight with Lewis Hamilton, can he beat him in a series of races where he is strong.
This Ferrari saga about Sebastian Vettel’s penalty in Montreal will continue to be debated. I imagine in Thursday’s press conference the topic will come up, but I think there to try and focus on the race in hand. But the stewards will be in the spotlight.