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Reporters – 11/02/2018

The scrapping of grid girls sparked debate last week. Well Liberty and the FIA announced that kids would replace the girls. But what does it hope it will do for the young people?

Grid kids to replace ‘grid girls’

Formula One will replace grid girls with a new programme called grid kids from this season. Last week, Liberty Media announced that female promotional models would no longer be used on the grid before races.

F1 bosses are planning to use the young drivers so that “the pre-race ceremony more relevant and interesting for fans, especially the younger ones.” The children will be chosen from junior categories and karting and chosen by national motorsports bodies.

In a joint statement, the sport’s governing body the FIA and Liberty Media said that the decision would be made “On merit or by lottery.” FIA president Jean Todt said “Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport and the dream of every young racer competing the junior series that make up the FIA’s single-seater pyramid, from karting all the way to F1.

“We are therefore delighted to bring that dream a little closer by giving the future champions of our sport the opportunity to stand alongside their heroes on the grid in the build-up to the race start.”

Todt says that the initiative provides additional support to member states and ASN’s to grow national series as well as growing participation in grassroots motorsport.

F1’s managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches added  he hoped the opportunity to “stand beside their heroes” would be for the children chosen “an unforgettable experience for them and their families” and “an inspiration to keep driving, training and learning so that they can dream of one day being there themselves”

 

The halo continues to cause debate, the device which is designed to protect drivers heads has posed “significant challenge” for the teams. This week, some teams have been speaking about that challenge…

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.”

 

Haas have made a good start in both their seasons in Formula One, but as the season goes on they have fallen away. But while Romain Grosjean says he’s expecting gains this year, he believes the team won’t be left behind. But why?

Haas will not be left behind – Grosjean

Romain Grosjean says he has confidence that Haas will not be left behind this season, despite the teams nearest rivals being expected to make big gains this season.

Haas finished ahead of McLaren last season, ten points behind Renault.  But the Frenchman is expecting with their bigger budgets and McLaren switching to Renault engines that both teams will be out of reach.

He also suggested that Williams and Toro Rosso could be potential targets for the American team. When asked by Motorsport.com if he expected things to be harder this season, Grosjean said “I don’t know. Some teams are going to have maybe a less powerful power unit, so one goes up and one goes down. I think we don’t want to go down in the order.

“McLaren is going to be super strong. They have a huge resource, they have the biggest factory in F1, and the Renault engine is a decent engine.”

“They have had reliability issues but power wise they are up there, Renault is on a high too, and they have been developing pretty well so they should be up there as well.” He believes that McLaren will be fighting in the midfield.

Grosjean says that for Haas to make a good step forward this season, is for the team to get on top of their aerodynamic after feeling that it did not make sufficient gains in this area last year.

He added “The best is to focus on our own work and we know where we can improve. There are a few areas where we need to focus on and get better.” Grosjean says it’s important that the upgrades are working well before they come to the track.

The Frenchman pointed out that over the last two years the team has started the season strongly, but has struggled with tyre performance through the season.

 

This season, teams face a reduction in the number of engines that can be used and that despite the number of races increasing. So what can the manufacturers do to increase reliability, and what headaches is it creating?

Three engines causes “headaches” for manufacturers – Abiteboul 

Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says that Formula One’s new three engine limit is a “headache” for teams and manufacturers. However, the Frenchman has not given up hope that the main players in the sport could agree to a late change.

While the 2018 calendar has two more races the teams will be facing a reduction in the number of penalty-free engine and components, MGU-H and turbocharger than last year as part of a sliding scale imposed at the start of the current engine era in 2014 to control costs.

This means that in 2018 one engine needs to last for seven race weekends, a situation which Red Bull boss Christian Horner has already described as “barking mad” at the end of last year.

Abitboul says while Renault is prepared for the change, he believes the change is unlikely to do F1 any favours amid fears drivers will be clobbered with grid penalties even earlier in the season. He told Sky Sports “It’s a headache but it’s a known headache.”

“We knew that it was coming so we have built our plans and strategy accordingly. Right now there is nothing to indicate that we can’t stick to this plan.” He says that Renault will have another go at trying to change the regulations.

While three areas of the F1 power unit cannot be used more than three times in 2018, the limit has been reduced still further for three more elements – the MGU-K, energy store and control electronics. Each car only has a two-unit allocation for these three parts before penalties are imposed.

Last year, seven hundred grid penalties were awarded across the grid, equivalent to thirty-five per driver because of engine penalties. The majority of between Renault and Honda-powered cars.

To avoid a situation where drivers get more grid penalties than the gird, they will be capped at fifteen places with any driver clocking up more than that simply sent to the back of the grid.

 

With Mercedes and Ferrari broadly in agreement on the direction of the sports engine regulations, Zac Brown has warned that the sport cannot bow to the manufacturers, so what does he believe can be done to avoid political turmoil?

Liberty cant bow to Mercedes and Ferrari – Brown

McLaren director Zak Brown says that Liberty Media cannot afford to give into the wishes of current engine manufacturers when deciding the next set of engine regulations.

Last year, Ferrari threatened to quit the sport when Liberty presented their proposals for new engine regulations aimed at making the sport more appealing for new manufacturers to join while also driving down supply costs. Renault and Mercedes also have their own concerns about the proposals.

However, Brown doubts that Ferrari would ever follow through with the threat and believes the sport must stay strong with the vision for the future. Asked by ESPN, about the possibility of Ferrari or Mercedes walking away, he said “I think that’s highly unlikely but I think anything is possible.”

“Therefore we need to land on a set of rules that allow anyone looking at the rules that allows those who are looking at the sport to come in so that in the unexpected and hopefully highly unlikely that they were to leave, the sport needs to go on.”

He believes that sport needs to do whats right for the sport and says he would rather lose a manufacturer rather than a few teams. Though Mercedes and Ferrari are rivals on the track, they have adopted the same position on engines, revenue distribution and the implementation of a cost cap.

Brown says there has not been a compelling argument to convince them to agree to the changes. Ferrari and Mercedes both want to protect their own interests, but Brown said “we’ve got to ask ourselves if Mercedes wins seven championships in a row, how’s that going to impact the sport and is that healthy for anyone in the sport.”

“Under the current regulations, current spend, you’ve got to say they’re odds-on favourite to win the next three years.”

 

That’s all from Reporters for this week, goodbye

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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