F1 Today – 23/01/2019

News & Analysis

Sauber the team to watch

Two of Sauber’s rivals believe that they should be feared and are “the team to watch” in 2019. The Swiss team was the most improved in terms of performance last season, becoming a regular top ten finisher and qualifier.

After Sauber signed a sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo the team strengthened its technical team throughout 2018, its progress last year was enough to convince 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, to sign a two-year deal with the team after losing his Ferrari drive.

Racing Point driver Sergio Perez, who raced for the team in 2011-12, told Motorsport.com, “ Sauber is a great team. They went through a very difficult period for a couple of years, but now I think with the Ferrari relationship they are coming back”

Last year, Sauber finished in the top ten more times than McLaren and Haas and outscoring everybody behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull over the final three races of the season. That was the best points haul since the start of F1’s V6 turbo-hybrid era in 2014, and its joint-best constructors’ championship period at that time too.

McLaren signing Carlos Sainz said Sauber had established itself as a worthy adversary. Saying “We should all fear them. But next year, we should fear everyone. You think about Sauber, but then you think about Force India with a bit more budget, what they could be capable of.”

“You think about Renault, what they are able to do. You think about Haas if they keep getting the amount of Ferrari parts that they are getting.”


Yu Zhou joins Renault from Ferrari

Renault has signed the former Ferrari Academy member Guan Yu Zhou as the teams’ test and development driver for 2019. This season the Chinese driver will race in Formula Two with UNI-Virtuosi as well as being the test driver for the Techeetah Formula E team.

The nineteen-year-old raced in European Formula Three alongside champion Mick Schumacher last season, and will also step up into F3 this season. The Chinese driver will get significant simulator time in his new role in the Renault Sport Academy, alongside sitting in on the team’s engineering briefings.

Zhou told Motorsport.com, “Renault is a very experienced and professional team in motorsports for a long time, so joining the academy will be a great help for my racing career.”

“The F1 role can give me an earlier understanding of the things around F1, like the team, the people, and also the sponsors. All of these are the valuable elements for my future career.”

Zhou who was born in Shanghai, says that it was great to be joining a top and big team, saying he remembers when the team won the constructors championship in the city in 2005.

Adding “I was a big fan for him at that time, so to work with such a brilliant team is really a great experience for me, and for sure I will push myself hard to achieve what we planned for.”

He insists that the increased responsibility with a manufacturer team, will not hinder his debut season in F2. Zhou is also keen on the opportunity to work with Renault’s latest race signing, Daniel Ricciardo.

Speaking about Ricciardo, he said “He has been one of my favourite F1 drivers for several years. I love his passion, speed and great personality.”

“I think I will learn a lot from him, so I’m very excited to meet him not only in the paddock but during the race weeks, and hopefully we can have fun time together outside track as well


Ticktum’s bid for superlicence is hits set back

Motorsport.com says that it understands that the series which Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum is currently racing in to secure enough superlicence points to race in F1, is not eligible for the licence points.

The Asian F3 winter series was included on the 2019 FIA global pathway towards a superlicence which allows drivers to race in F1. Ticktum was tipped for a drive with Toro Rosso but only has thirty-five of the forty needed to race in F1.

Reports have now emerged that the series no longer fulfils the FIA’s criteria. The FIA’s Appendix L regulations stipulate that to be eligible, a series “must be composed of a minimum of five race weekends” and “be held on a minimum of three different tracks”.

The AWS takes place over just three rounds, held on two different circuits, with the opener at Buriram at Thailand and the second and third events at former Malaysian GP venue Sepang.

Despite this, the AWS has been in place for months and was not included in the change to the series on the global pathway.

Davide de Gobbi, boss of series organiser Topspeed, told Motorsport.com: “We were aware of the criteria. However, when the AWS was listed by the FIA on their allocation table, and given that the Single Seater Group was presented with all details of the AWS, including the schedule, on September 18, we understood that to mean that we had in fact been allocated superlicence points.”

He says that the series is seeking clarification from the FIA and were disappointed by recent developments.

When asked by Motorsport.com for clarification, FIA safety director Adam Baker said: “All championships listed in the table are eligible for superlicence points, should the criteria defined in Appendix L be met.

“As in previous years, the criteria in Appendix L include the number of weekends over which the championship is held. Any championship which does not meet the Appendix L requirements will unfortunately not be eligible for superlicence points.”

Ticktum is currently five points short of what he needs and would need a top-three position in the final table to gain the five points necessary for his superlicence, is down in eighth in the standings after incidents at the opening round and car problems in the second event.


Schumacher a future star but needs time

Sebastian Vettel says that new Ferrari junior driver Mick Schumacher can be a future star of the sport, but has urged people to “give him time.” The nineteen-year-old was formally confirmed as a junior driver for the team last week.

Schumacher won last years European F3 series and won the title in his debut season, this year he will step up into F2. At the weekend the two were teammates for the Race of Champions in Mexico.

The pair losing finalists in the Nations Cup event before the younger German beat F1’s four-time champion in the group stages of the individual competition.

Asked if Schumacher could prove a star of the future, Vettel said: “I think so. Give him time, he’s under enough pressure as it is. Just let him do his thing, give him time and then we’ll see what happens.”

Mistakes in the latter part of 2018 ultimately cost him a chance of his fifth world title, but as he enters his fifth season with Ferrari he says that he doesn’t feel any additional pressure to deliver this year. Vettel added “Same as the years before. No different.”

“The good thing getting older is you’ve been around for a couple of years and things don’t change too much. Also in terms of expectation and pressure, it’s the same. It’s the name of the game.”


Riccardo value for money – Renault

Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul insists that the cost of hiring Daniel Ricciardo this year is value for money, even though the team is not expecting to win.

In August last year, the Australian made the shock move to the French manufacturer, with some questioning his decision to leave Red Bull. The questions were also on Renault as they are still in rebuilding phase set out by Carlos Ghosn when the team returned in 2016.

But Abiteboul is clear that the benefits of having a top-line driver like Ricciardo on board go far beyond just what he is capable of delivering on track. Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “There is a considerable financial commitment from Renault.”

“But it is not a question of whether Renault can afford it: it can definitely afford it as our turnover is 40 times the turnover of Red Bull. There is no question mark about that, the question mark is about the value.”

He says that the team believes the benefits of having a top-line driver like Ricciardo on board go far beyond just what he is capable of delivering on track.


Racing Point announces a deal with RNT Rausch

Racing Point has announced a new technical partnership with RNT Rausch which will allow the team to use Acronis software. Acronis software is a storage solution for trackside data processing.

F1 produces hundreds of gigabytes of data each weekend, that the teams analyse in real time to optimise on-track performance. The latest technology solutions are required for securely storing multi-Terabyte amounts of engineering data.

RNT Rausch has been developing data servers and storage systems since 1998. The company makes classic backup systems, individual software-defined storage or server solutions for streaming and other data-intensive applications. It also makes custom-made systems, future-proof standard solutions are also part of the product portfolio.

Team Principal & CEO, Racing Point F1 Otmar Szafnauer, said “The partnership with RNT RAUSCH in combination with our Acronis software cooperation is a big step towards an optimized and secure data management system.”

Managing Director of RNT RAUSCH, Sebastian Noelting, added “Formula 1 lives on data and speed. This unites the sport with our business as a manufacturer of server and storage hardware. We are excited to be able to contribute to the future development and success of the team.”


The mystery around the death of Hawthorn

It was a January day in 1959 when world champion Mike Hawthorn left his home for an event in London. Hawthorn had beaten his fellow Englishman Stirling Moss to the driver’s title and become Ferrari’s first champion.

Six weeks earlier he had announced his retirement from the sport, following the fatal crash at the Nurburgring of his friend Peter Collins and teammate Luigi Musso at the French Grand Prix. Then the accident involving Stewart Lewis-Evans in Morocco, he died days later.

In retirement, he ran a garage business founded by his late father in Farnham and playing an ambassadorial role within the sport and the motor industry.

On January 22nd 1959, he was judging a race in aid of the Invalid Tricycle Association, when disaster struck. Hawthorn knew the A3 roads around Guildford racing behind the world champion, Rob Walker and gave his friend (and F1 team owner) a mischievous two-fingered gesture as he went.

As Hawthorn went to overtake his friend he clipped a kerb and crashed into a tree bending his car throwing him onto the back seat. A doctor who went to help on the scene said death must have been instantaneous.

It is one of those instances in which motor racing people can recall exactly where they were when the shocking news came through.

An inquest by the coroner ruled that the cause of the accident was high speed on a wet road.

The site has since been designated an arboretum.

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