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Reporters – 20/01/2019

Since Honda returned to Formula One in 2015 they have been firmly rooted to the bottom of the power stakes. But going into 2019 they are targeting Renault, but how do they plan to do that?

Honda wants to be the third best engine

Honda has set itself the target this year to try and establish itself ahead of Renault at the start of the season before going after Mercedes and Ferrari during the year.

The Japanese manufacturer has been the fourth fastest power unit since it returned to the sport in 2015, after being interested in the current V6 turbo-hybrid regulations.

Honda’s first three seasons with McLaren the reliability problems led to the pair slitting at the end of the 2017 season. But last season, partnered with Toro Rosso they managed to convince Red Bull that they were in a position to challenge the top two. While Red Bull declared that Honda had now surpassed Renault’s performance level.

Asked by Motorsport.com, where Honda would be able to start 2019, given its development in 2018, the company’s motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto told: “We will make a big effort during the winter, and [up until] now of course.”

“At least we would like to start from third within the manufacturers, then try to catch the frontrunners up during the season.” Honda remains optimistic that they can make further gains in performance and continue improving reliability this year.

Both Red Bull and Honda have stated that they are expecting to take tactical penalties at some point this season. Honda’s focus remains on closing the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari at a greater pace after taking longer than it wanted to make progress.

“We are not really keen to say a specific time, but Mercedes and Ferrari have loads of knowledge of the grey areas [of the rules], so they are still ahead of us,” said Yamamoto.

In 2018, Honda introduced two upgrades which both lead to better performance, however, the second upgrade initially came at a cost of durability as it battled gearbox oscillations. Pierre Gasly then suffered an oil leak in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

The evolution of this engine design, which Honda intends to start the 2019 campaign with, should not come with a repeat of those problems. For this season, they are sticking with the same broad engine concept for the first time in this engine era, having ended 2018 with untapped potential.

Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe told Motorsport.com in Abu Dhabi last November, “To tell you the truth, we’re still learning from the latest specification at the track.”

 

Haas has been in Formula One for three years now, the team are firmly rooted in the midfield. It is well known that the next jump into the top teams is one of the toughest, but why is Gunther Steiner threatening to walk away if there is no long term change?

No point in staying if no long term change – Steiner

Haas team principal Gunther Steiner believes that there would be no point in him carrying on in Formula One in the long term if there was never a chance of his team being able to challenge the top three teams.

The grid has been divided into two groups in terms of performance, with the top three teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, enjoying a huge gap over the rest of the field. The so-called Class B teams haven’t taken any race wins since 2013.

Steiner accepts that the situation will continue in the short term, but he thinks that he would have to question his involvement longer term if things do not change. Steiner told Motorsport.com, “I think for two years, yes, it’s sustainable. But long term: no, it gets old. If it doesn’t change at some point there’s no point to just be in it.”

“The business as a business doesn’t work if you cannot take and feel the enjoyment of competing for podiums and wins. There’s no point to be here after a certain time, you know.”

“Why would I waste my life working madly, day and night, flying to, I don’t know, 21 countries all around the globe, to know I can just do the same as I did last year? There is no point. No point.” Steiner hopes that the proposed regulation changes have the potential to shake things up.

 

George Russell will make his Formula One debut this season, but over the past few years, he has been working with five times champion Lewis Hamilton. What has he learned from watching the five times champion?

Russell “refreshed” by watching Hamilton

Williams driver George Russell says he found it “refreshing” to watch Lewis Hamilton and discover that his success is a result of his intense work ethic.

The current Formula Two champion has signed a “multi year deal” with Williams, after spending 2018 combining his racing commitments with his role as Mercedes reserve driver with his F2 championship. Russell says that observing Hamilton gave him a new appreciation for how five-time world champion conducts himself.

He told Motorsport.com, “There’s a number of different perceptions of how Lewis’s commitment is over the course of the year. He’s got a number of different activities he does and he’s an extremely talented driver.”

“When he comes to the track he will work his arse off to maximise everything – pushing the team in such an amazing direction, really motivating everybody.”

“He’s worked really hard at it, so that was kind of refreshing for me, that a guy like him isn’t just relying on his talent and it just comes to him, he’s out there working for it.” Russell believes that Hamilton has probably improved as he got older, and rely on the speed if the car isn’t quite working.

The Englishman is the UK’s most successful driver in the history of the sport, and only seven times champion  Michael Schumacher has more titles. Last year while fighting for the title he launched his own collection with US fashion giant Tommy Hilfiger.

Russell says that watching Hamilton up close has given him a valuable insight into more than just being a quick racing driver. He says that there’s more to being a successful racing driver than representing brands and have a number of sponsors

 

Finland has produced some of the greatest Formula One drivers in the history of the sport. However, it has never held a Grand Prix but could the region be on course for an F1 race?

Finland to study Grand Prix possibilities

A study is being undertaken to see whether F1 can return to Finland in the near future, with the Kymi Ring as a possible venue.

The Finnish Grand Prix was only run twice in the 1930s and is the only pre-war European race which hasn’t featured on the F1 calendar, and along with New Zealand and Macau is the only national Grand Prix which hasn’t featured in F1.

AKK Motorsport, Finnish motorsport’s national governing body, has now launched an official study into the possibility of a home grand prix. This includes evaluating whether the Kymi Ring, which is due to host MotoGP for the first time in 2020, could be an F1 circuit in the future as well.

A statement from the Finnish government confirmed that the Finnish motorsport governing body the AKK, has applied for funding “create a realistic road map towards the possible application for hosting a Finnish F1 Grand Prix”.

AKK CEO Tatu Lehmuskallio said: “Finland has an excellent and unique legacy in motorsports. Not only have Finnish Formula 1 and WRC rally drivers collected more world championship points in recent seasons than drivers from any other country.”

“We also have internationally-recognised expertise on hosting modern, reliable, sustainable and – most of all – thrilling motorsport events for fans, partners and athletes.”

The 2.79-mile circuit is located under a hundred miles north of the capital Helsinki. The circuit is set to be awarded ‘grade 1’ by the FIA. Creating a Finnish F1 race would end an absence of more than 40 years of grand prix racing in that part of the world.

The Nordic and Scandinavian region of Europe is the only sub-regions of Europe without a Grand Prix.

 

And that’s all from Reporters for this week, goodbye

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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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