This Week – 01/10/2023

News & Analysis This Week

Hello, This Week has felt like the assessment of what teams need to do so they can close the gap to Red Bull. The team’s dominance this season has been incredible and that could allow Max Verstappen to wrap up a third title next weekend in Lusail, the sport we know is always about driving forwards. When he does wrap up the title, which we all know he will we should see ‘gloves off,’ but will that happen as Red Bull broken every record and convention this season

General News

Rodin Cars says its application to enter F1 has been rejected by the sport’s governing body. The company proposed building its cars in New Zealand and planned to reserve one of its two race seats for a female driver Its now expected that Andretti will be the only team put forwards for final approval by Liberty Media.

However, F1 officials are likely to turn down the American application to become an 11th team on the grid. Rodin is the majority shareholder in established feeder series operator Carlin, which runs teams in F2, F3 and F4.

In a statement, Rodin’s Australian founder David Dicker said the company was “financially equipped to fully fund” its F1 ambitions and would have pursued a potential collaboration with Ferrari.

Dicker added: “Rodin Cars participated in the recent FIA process aimed at gaining entry into the prestigious Formula One world championship – unfortunately, our bid was not successful. Recent information suggests, as anticipated from the outset of this process, that the only successful applicant will be Andretti Global.”

It had promised, if successful, to have one of its seats reserved for a female driver a woman has not started a Grand Prix since 1978. last week Britain’s Jessica Hawkins became the first woman in almost five years to test an F1 car.

The FIA opened a formal application process in February for teams interested in joining in 2025, 2026 or 2027. Andretti Global, run by former F1 driver Michael Andretti, son of the 1978 world champion Mario, joined forces for a bid with US car giant General Motors’ luxury Cadillac brand.


George Russell says he has “zero hard feelings” about being asked to invert positions with teammate Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages in Suzuka. The Mercedes drivers inverted positions after Hamilton on fresher tyres was seen as the best chance to challenge for a podium.

That left Russell to fend off Sainz for as long as he could. Russell initially queried the decision, suggesting that the team wait until the last lap, but he complied after being told it was an instruction.

He in turn asked for Hamilton to help his defence by giving him DRS, noting that it was the “least he can do” after “he pushed me off the track earlier”. Hamilton agreed to help, but nevertheless, Sainz soon got past. However, the Spaniard was unable to do anything about Hamilton.

Asked if he accepted the swap, Russell said, “Yeah, of course. You use the radio as a bit of a release valve because, it’s so hot in the car, it’s a long race, you’re there pushing for an hour and a half, you’re fighting every inch.” That to me sounds like a little bit of spin, no driver wants team orders and we have written before about heat-of-the-moment comments, pointing out Hamilton’s championship position seems a bit ‘PR speak.’

Although the contest looked fraught at times, Russell insisted that it was fair. ,” he said “I viewed it as good, hard racing. To be in the position to be putting him under pressure and making moves on him, I was happy with. So I would take the positives from that.”

Those fraught battles will be seen as perhaps a taster of what a inter Mercedes championship battle might be like, but we know the team don’t see it like a Hamilton Rosberg situation I think also a bit of frustration despite Hamilton looking like the faster car.

Asked if it went too far at any point, he said: “No. Just both of us lost time to the cars around us. As I said, we’re not going to give the position easily to one another. It was still early on in the race.

Hamilton says that Mercedes needs the greatest six months of development if it is to close the gap to Red Bull next year. The team were the fourth fastest in Suzuka making the team aware of how far the team needed to go in closing the gap to Red Bull. Throughout the year, Hamilton has been pushing for a total change in concept.

He said, I have no idea where the car is going to be next year, but we’re a long, long way away. We’ve got to hope for the next six months to be the greatest six months of development that we’ve ever had to close that gap and to be really banging on the door.” Hamilton used the example of McLaren’s turnaround both as a danger to Mercedes and the turnaround which is possible.

But explained “We’ve always been great at putting downforce on the car. It’s just that, with the way our car currently works, adding downforce doesn’t work, it just makes it bounce more. Hopefully, with a change in philosophy, we’ll be back to where the team deserves because this is a world championship team, we still are an amazing team.”

I think if Mercedes gets it together having made changes earlier in the year have brought the team forwards, but the question I think can it not only close the gap we are seeing year to Red Bull but go further because Red Bull isn’t standing still either.

This week the team also repeated its message that it was still worth bringing further upgrades to its current car, despite plans for a fundamental redesign for its 2024. The team committed quite early on to a change in concept having failed early on to make the step forwards they wanted

They are hoping that the complete change in concept will see a huge step forwards so they can challenge Red Bull. As we know the team hasn’t stopped developing this year’s car, Rosie Wait opened up on why it did not make sense for the team to simply abandon work on the W14.

She said, “Whilst we will have to use the winter to make more fundamental developments to W15, there are plenty of things we can do with the current car which will both make it faster and aid our learning and understanding to develop next year’s car.”

Red Bull

Chief technical officer  Adrian Newey says it “would have been fabulous” to work with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in addition to possibly switching to Ferrari. Newey has been with the team since 2006, but is known to have turned down approaches from.  Ferrari on three occasions.

He told Beyond The Grid, “[Ferrari approached] in my IndyCar days, which probably doesn’t count, then ’93 and famously in 2014. The ’93 one was very tempting. I went down, Jean Todt [team boss] had just started. I remember him talking about should he hire Michael [Schumacher] or not. Do you think that was a good idea?”

Newlywed Newey declined the offer based on the breakdown of his previous marriage, having split his time between England and working for March in the United States. The most recent approach by Ferrari came during Red Bull’s struggle with Renault at the start of the hybrid era, Newey admitted Renault’s attitude made him consider an exit.,

Newey continued, “My discussions in 2014 with Ferrari were purely out of frustration. I really didn’t want to leave but we were in this position where Renault hadn’t produced a competitive turbo hybrid engine. That happens in the first year, OK, new rules. We all make mistakes. But we went to see Carlos Ghosn [disgraced former Renault CEO], Christian [Horner], Helmut [Marko] and myself to try to put pressure on him to up the budget.”

Newey acknowledged that there was an emotional tinge to not having joined Ferrari before noting he would have also liked the opportunity to work with Hamilton and Alonso.


Charles Leclerc revealed that he thought he was on for a podium in last weekend in Suzuka,  after mistaking Sergio Perez’s slowing Red Bull for leader Max Verstappen. The Monacan finished fourth behind Verstappen and both McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

But after the race, Leclerc revealed that he actually thought he was set to finish third after seeing one of the Red Bulls pull over under the virtual safety car. Leclerc believed it was Verstappen who slowing down, instead of the Dutchman’s team-mate Perez who endured a shocker of an afternoon.

Perez in his damaged car lost time under the VSC, allowing Leclerc to close up but the Ferrari driver was unsure whether he was allowed to pass the Mexican. He explained, “I saw [Max] stop at the [virtual] safety car, I don’t know what happened then, and I thought he wasn’t in the race anymore. He was basically stopped on the left and we all overtook him. So, I thought I was doing a podium until the last lap, when I actually looked at the board and I was P4!”

Leclerc then had to be told by reporters that it was actually Perez who had stopped after sustaining damage following his clash with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. But the Ferrari driver believed that he had maximised his result behind the superior McLarens, who enjoyed much better tyre management on Suzuka’s hot and demanding circuit.

Later in the week, the Monacan said he feels Ferrari have “learned a few things” which could give them the “upper hand” on Mercedes for the rest of the season. Ferrari trails Mercedes by twenty points in the Constructors’ Championship heading to Qatar, after both teams scored the same amount of points last time out in Suzuka.

Ferrari has continued to struggle with its tyre degradation this season,  however following the summer break has made progress taking points out of Mercedes in Monza and Singapore. He said “Mercedes are strong, especially in the races. In Japan, they put us under a bit of pressure at the end by splitting the cars. In qualifying, it’s a bit more inconsistent, so it’s going to be a very close fight.”

“We are a bit more inconsistent in the race, they are a bit more inconsistent in qualifying. But, I have a feeling inside me that we have learned a few things in the last weekend that will hopefully give us the upper hand for the rest of the season.”

Although they were not on the podium last weekend in Suzuka, Ferrari’s fourth and sixth was still a big improvement compared to their pace on high-speed tracks in the first half of the season. Team principal Fred Vasseur said, “If you look at the first couple of races of the season, the tyre management was not always our biggest skill.”

“So coming to Suzuka with this track temperature we were a bit at risk, but at the end of the day I think we did a good job on that side. The strategy was well managed and we did well, so a clear step forward compared to the start of the season.” We have I think been saying for years what also hasn’t helped is the resurgence of McLaren since the break.


McLaren still thinks Red Bull is “still a step too far away” despite a bullish radio message from Lando Norris. Norris and his teammate Oscar Piastri both finished on the podium in Suzuka but he was nearly twenty-seconds behind winner Max Verstappen. Despite a bullish message “We are coming for Red Bull,” team principal Andrea Stella is more cautious about expectations for the rest of the season.

While he is delighted with the progress that has been made through 2023, he thinks that Red Bull, especially with Max Verstappen at the wheel, is not yet within touching distance in pure pace terms. I think Stella is right to downplay almost offer realism in my view by saying that Red Bull was “a step too far.”

He said, “There’s a variability of tracks left in the season, but none of these tracks has the Singapore characteristics. While there could be some tracks in which we could be competitive – I think Qatar should be a decent track for us – I’m afraid that the characteristics we like, they are also the characteristics where Red Bull will be just outstanding.”

There are three things I think we need to bare in mind, yes McLaren has had a remarkable turnaround with the Norris/Piastri line up becoming one of the strongest on the grid, things can change very quickly in F1 meaning they could slip back next year. Also, we haven’t seen a consistent challenger to Red Bull this year.

Asked how mindful McLaren was of how quickly progress can stop in F1, Stella said: “Very mindful. Very, very mindful.  And if anything, we are trying to be as rigorous as possible, from a development point of view.”

McLaren is continuing forge closer ties with Toyota which has prompted rumours that the Japanese manufacturer could be seeking a return to the sport. This is despite earlier in the year ending its  long-running deal it had to use Toyota’s wind tunnel in Cologne, as it shifted its programme to its own new facility in Woking.

However, it appears the partnership is continuing, last weekend in Suzuka the partnership looked to be evolving when McLaren announced that Toyota factory driver Ryo Hirakawa had been signed up to its roster of reserve drivers for 2024.

Hirakawa’s deal seemed to be a leftfield choice as he had never previously been on the radar for F1 teams, but it has clearly come amid a push by Toyota to get some stronger links with Grand Prix racing.

The presence of Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda with McLaren at last weekend’s Japanese GP, as part of a delegation from the Japanese manufacturer, also further fuelled the idea of a growing interest in F1. It even prompted rumours that McLaren could have Toyota on the radar as a potential future engine partner should it elect to return to F1 at some point.

Asked by to explain the background to the Hirakawa appointment, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella revealed that it was part of a bigger picture agreement with Toyota.

Stella said, “There was the element of, having started a driver development programme, there’s quite a lot of people knocking on the door. We actively chase talents, but we also have interest from other talents to join the programme, which is good. It shows that we have credibility from this point of view.”

“So, we are certainly excited that Ryo and Toyota wanted to join the team in terms of the driver development programme. Then we took advantage to say well, let’s add him to the pool of reserve drivers. And this is not only for the driver himself. We are also interested in a bit of exchange of how we deal with performance, how we deal with driver development. So, we want to sort of expand a bit our horizons.”

I think this is part of a tiered approach by manufacturers in having some kind of involvement in F1, we know McLaren has been a long term user of the wind tunnel. But I believe that its not saying that Toyota definitely is looking at returning, and last weekend motorsport advisor Kazuki Nakajima said that the Hirakawa deal was not a first step towards a grand prix racing comeback, but he left the door open on things changing over the next few years.

0Aston Martin

Jessica Hawkins has become the first woman in almost five years to test a F1 car. Aston Martin announced on Tuesday that Hawkins completed twenty-six laps in their 2021 car at the Hungaroring near Budapest last Thursday. The British driver shared duties with reserve driver Felipe Drrugovich.

She said, “It’s taken me every bit of blood, sweat and tears to get here. I’ve had to keep it secret for months now, which was pretty hard. It’s been absolutely worth it and it’s given me really valuable insight.”

The most recent woman to test an F1 car was Tatiana Calderon with Sauber – now Alfa Romeo – at the Hermanos Rodriguez track in Mexico City in October 2018. a female driver has not started a grand prix since Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.

Hawkins, a former British karting champion and a stunt driver in James Bond movie ‘No Time To Die’, joined Aston Martin as a driver ambassador in 2021. The 2023 F1 Academy title will be decided in Austin, though Hawkins isn’t competing in the all-female series this year.

The team are insisting that the pointed remarks made by Fernando Alonso’s pointed remarks in Suzuka are not a sign of frustration with the team creeping out. The two-time world champion has gone from fighting with Red Bull to struggling to finish in the points more recently.

During the Suzuka race last weekend, Alonso did not hold back when it came to letting his feelings be known about how things were developing. Having been the first top six runner to pit on a day when tyre degradation was massive, Alonso remarked: “You’ve thrown me to the lions by stopping that early.”

Before going onto one of his pointed remarks which was always going to in my view raise intrigue about the team’s drop in form. Famously at Suzuka in 2015 in his struggles with McLaren and its engine woes with Honda he remarked “GP2 Engine, GP2 engine,” during his frustration with Hondas reliability issues when they first returned to F1

Mike Krack felt that there was nothing out of the ordinary with Alonso’s comments and that his team viewed them as more motivational than critical. he said, “I think you can listen to the 20 drivers, and everybody’s really hard. Everybody’s passionate. If the driver would not be doing something like that, what driver is it? We take it as a motivation and it also opens up always a different view of things. So, absolutely fine.”

Krack explained that the lack of straight line speed that Alonso kept referencing was the result of the high downforce level that the team had opted for to help it better manage tyre degradation. he added, “The more you bolt on, the better pace you have for better degradation, and vice versa. So, it’s a matter; you have to make a choice. At the end of the day, we’ve tried actually to go with a bit lower or to go with higher over the course of the weekend. And we finally decided to race like that.

He also believes the reason why Aston Martin has lacked competitiveness is a consequence of it not making the kind of progress with upgrades that rivals have.

The team posted a £53m loss for 2022 a £9m rise in losses compared to 2021. The team made a bigger loss despite upping its turnover from sponsorship and prize money by over £32m, with the numbers reflecting an overall increase in costs in the first year of the new regulations.

It posted a turnover of £188,728,000 up £382,900,000 compared to 2021. The overall cost of sales, a measure of what the team actually spent to go racing, rose to £152,046,00 from £107,735,000.

With administrative expenses and other income such as government grants taken into account, that resulted in a loss for 2022 of £52,915,000, compared with £43,332,000 in 2021.

The team continued with it expansion with just over a hundred new members of staff, but only twenty-two in “design, production and technical.”  In a reference to the substantial investment in the new facilities at Silverstone, the company noted that “as of December 31 2021 the group was committed to capital expenditure of $64,985,490 relating to the development of the Aston Martin F1 Campus.”


Alexander Albon says that Formula 1’s standard five-second penalty for causing a collision is not strict enough and “not really teaching the drivers anything”. In the last two races, Albon has had two incidents with Sergio Perez, in Singapore Perez knocked the British-Thai driver into a spin , costing him a points finish.

In Japan last weekend Albon had another close call with Perez, and was then a witness to the Mexican punting Kevin Magnussen off the road in what the Haas driver called a “S****” move. The Red Bull driver received five-second penalties for both incidents having been deemed predominantly to blame for the collisions.

However, in Singapore, the added time made no difference to his eighth-place finish, and in Japan Red Bull had initially retired his car only to send it back out so Perez could go through the motions of serving the penalty, and not have to take a grid drop at the next race in Qatar.

Albon has now questioned how much of a deterrent the lack of a meaningful penalty was, I agree Suzuka I understand why Red Bull sent him back out to avoid a grid penalty. However, I think it shouldn’t be allowed sending a car which had been retired for half the race back out to serve a penalty. Red Bull did nothing wrong, but you need to wonder if at the next commission meeting, this will be discussed it doesn’t seem as it’s a deterrent.

Magnussen stressed that the contact had destroyed his afternoon in Suzuka. the Dane said, “I just got spun around there by Perez, and it ruined our race. We had to pit, and that was too early for the two-stop strategy that we had, and the tyre degradation that we had. It was just too early to pit then. But we had to.”

Regarding the sanction awarded to Perez, he added: “I think he’s penalising himself, there’s a natural penalty for him doing that. It doesn’t look good for him, but it is what it is. We’re racing. He was in a shitty position, and he made a shitty move.”

Team principal Williams boss James Vowles has given under-pressure Logan Sargeant a vote of confidence, insisting that the squad wants him to race with the team next year. The American driver’s future has been in doubt following a number of costly crashes including last weekend in Suzuka.

His latest crash prompted early speculation that Felipe Drugovich, Liam Lawson or Mick Schumacher could be in the frame to replace Sargeant, Vowles has poured cold water on any talk that he is definitely looking elsewhere for his team’s second seat. Instead, speaking on his post-race ‘Vowles Verdict’ video on the Williams website, he declared that the team wanted Sargeant to succeed – and that it had to work with him to make it happen.

Vowles said in his vlog, “Logan has very clear targets that he has to hit before the end of the season and we’re working with him continuously. That’s the important point: we’re working with him. We want him to succeed, and we want him in the car next year. This is very much on us as well.”

“We have taken someone straight from Formula 2 without any significant testing, put a day and a half in Bahrain in this car, and then wished them well on a season that has been awfully challenging for rookie drivers, full stop.”

He also said despite the crash looking into the data at the Japanese Grand Prix had actually shown the very progress that Williams wanted to see, when they removed the deficit by the American such as different packages.

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