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Reporters – 18/02/2018

Renault has a challenge this year on track, both Red Bull and McLaren are customers. But they are weaker than there customer teams, so how what is the aims of the manufacturer this season?

Renault aims for its customers

Renault says it wants to be able to match its customer teams McLaren and Red Bull by 2019. Since the French manufacturer returned to the sport in 2016, they have set themselves the target of challenging for the title early in the next decade.

Renault moved from ninth to sixth place in last season’s constructors’ championship but still finished more than three hundred points behind Red Bull.

The team did improve on the chassis side throughout the season, to finish the season fourth fastest. But customer team Red Bull exposed the weakness with the team’s power deficit to Ferrari and Mercedes.

Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul is expecting that the manufacturers work teams to remain ahead this year. But, says he wants the team to close the gap this season and it to be obliterated for 2019.

He told Motorsport.com “We know we have a substantial deficit to Red Bull in terms of chassis – in terms of aerodynamics and mechanical platform.”

“We know Red Bull very well and that’s a fantastic benchmark. I think they have one of the best chassis if not the best chassis out there right now – we’ll see what they come up with.”

“McLaren is a bit more of an unknown for us, because they had a different chassis and a different engine, different drivers, so it’s very difficult to compare. It will be an interesting benchmark.” Abiteboul believes in terms of overall capabilities over the course of the season they should be able to match them.

But warned that the team is still growing up, and their rivals are “well structured, very well organised, very well-funded.”

That means he believes that Abiteboul says he thinks Renault will not be in a position to fully match their customers until 2019. However, says that he wants a “very small gap” between them this year.

 

Esports is a growing trend, Formula One has set up a championship and McLaren has recruited a simulator driver from online racing. Renault has this week announced a entry to F1 eSports and plans for a championship in virtual racing. But can it get what it wants?

Renault target virtual championship

Renault has announced it will enter the world of eSports and is setting the target of a Formula One eSports championship. The French manufacturer has joined forces with France’s Team Vitality to compete in a programme of motorsport-based competitions.

The F1 eSports championship was launched last year, but currently has no teams instead individuals are represented. This year Renault has already announced it will participate in this year’s Rocket League Championship Series Europe, which has more than 25 million players.

“We are also in discussion with F1 to compete in the Formula One eSports Series,” Renault said in a statement.

It added that Renault Sport Racing would give the esports team’s players access to its Formula One factory at Enstone, in central England, to train with racing drivers and technical staff.

The current champion is Brendon Leigh who took the title in Abu Dhabi.

Renault is the first manufacturer team to announce an entry into the series. Last year McLaren held a competition to recruit an official simulator driver through its World’s Fastest Gamer competition.

Darren Cox, the man behind that, told Reuters last December he could see the current Grand Prix teams racing each other in the virtual world as well as the real one this year.

 

One of Gene Haas’s aimed when his team entered the sport three years ago was for an American driver. But this week he came under attack from the American press from not signing one. But why is there no American drivers in the team?

Haas denies being anti-American drivers

Haas has denied claims that they are against the idea of taking an American driver, but say they are not in a position currently to take a homegrown driver.

The only American team are yet to announce an American driver in a race seat since they entered the sport in 2016. This season Romain Grosjean and Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen will be the teams race drivers

The team were criticised by American racing figures last month after Haas team boss Guenther Steiner suggested no driver from the United States was yet ready for F1.

Responding to criticism from the American press, team owner Gene Haas told the teams website “The fact is that we’re still learning here in Formula 1, and bringing on a driver who needs to learn about Formula 1 probably isn’t the best thing for us or them.

“So, we need to step up, but we know where we need to improve thanks in large part to the experience of our drivers. We’re not saying no to having an American driver, but the reality is that of the American drivers who have a superlicence and could actually compete in F1.”

Haas added that the team wanted to be in that position sooner rather than later. He says that Grosjean and Magnussen are playing a big part in driving the team forward.

The last American to race in the sport was Alexander Rossi, who did five races for Manor at the end of 2015. Haas has run the Stewart – Haas Nascar team since early  2000’s, and there is no doubts in his mind that America can produce highly rated talents.

He added “But we’re not ready for that yet, and with the limited amount of testing teams have, getting anyone up to speed who hasn’t already been a part of a development program would be hard.”

 

The halo continues to divide the paddock. Why does Max Verstappen think its ‘very ugly’ and what is he looking forward to this season?

Verstappen not looking forward to ‘very ugly’ halo

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says he is not looking forward to his next Formula One car as it features a ‘very ugly’ halo. The British based team will launch their new car the RB14 on Monday, days before its main rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.

While the Dutchman is eager to see how competitive his new cars is, he is far from happy about how the new head protection device looks. In an interview for the teams website, Verstappen said “The halo – that will be very ugly. I am not looking forward to that! In general, I hope the car will look great and hopefully it is fast.”

“Hopefully it is a good step forward and we have got straight away a good car for the beginning of the year, so we are not really chasing like we did last year. That is the most important for us.”

The halo means that the minimum weight limit has increased for 2018, with some teams expressing concerns about reaching the minimum limit of 734kg. This means that heavier drivers like Verstappen, as they could be pushed further over the weight limit.

The Dutchman insists he will not force himself to go on a crash diet to lose any extra kilogrammes. Saying “Because the halo is quite heavy, it will be more than six kilos, it is definitely not favourable for me.”

“But I am not going to adjust my training for it, because otherwise I won’t feel well during the races. Especially for me being a taller driver and also a bit of a heavier driver than most, it is definitely not ideal.”

Verstappen says that the mood is good and everyone within Red Bull remains motivated for the season ahead.

 

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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