Formula One: Scuderia Toro Rosso switch to ExxonMobil

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 16.05.29.png

Following the announcement that Red Bull Racing have entered into partnership with ExxonMobil from 2017 as the teams Fuel and Lubricant supplier, JWGP can confirm the partnership will extend to a supply agreement for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

At this time it is not clear if the supply agreement will include the use of ExxonMobil or associated businesses branding on the STR 12, but sources at Red Bull Racing have confirmed the supply partnership.

With Scuderia Toro Rosso returning to Renault power unit supply for 2017, following the 2016 campaign in which a 2015 Ferrari power unit was used, Italy’s second team is expected to make significant strides up the grid. Toro Rosso are yet to indicate how the 2017 power unit will be badged. It is understood the power unit has been made available under the same agreement as Red Bull Racing allowing the team to sell the naming rights for the Power Unit, as seen with Tag Heuer and Red Bull Racing. With performance improvements expected such naming rights could prove highly valuable to an existing team sponsor seeking to increase exposure.

Whilst unconfirmed, Renault Sport F1 are not expected to make any changes to their fuel and lubricant supplier TOTAL. The team have confirmed they have made provisions to homologate the 2017 Power Unit for 2 fuel and lubricant suppliers. Such a move will set in motion a separate Power Unit development programme between the Red Bull owned teams and the works Renault Team and could form the basis for an as yet unnamed engine manufacturer entering the sport through the back door….

Advertisements

Formula One: Pérez for Mercedes?

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 14.31.28.png

With the shock announcement from 2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg’s retirement last Friday, almost every driver on the grid has been named as a possible replacement for the German. Nico’s decision came as a surprise not only to media and fans of the sport, but to his employers and rivals on the grid. Had there been an inkling from anyone that Nico may have taken this decision the contractual status of a number of leading drivers may be looking very different at this point in the season.

The Mercedes board will be keen to install a replacement driver as soon as possible to minimise the impact on the teams 2017 campaign and maximise driver acclimatisation. That being said, should Mercedes opt for a driver currently under contract with another team it is highly unlikely they will be able to work with said driver until the new year.

From an ease of transition perspective Mercedes could opt for one of their junior drivers in Ocon or Wehrlein. Whilst kind on the cheque book and simplest to implement, Mercedes require a driver capable of performing from at the very top level from the word go, it is undeniable the potential of both drivers is without question,  but it would be a risk to place them with the team from the beginning of 2017.

Realistically, this leaves Mercedes with little option than to approach drivers with existing agreements for season ahead. Toto Wolff has intimated he is reluctant to poach drivers from Ferrari or Mclaren, acknowledging the damage this could cause to future team relations in the lead up to strategy group negotiations with Liberty Media over the coming 36 months. This in theory removes Sebastian, Kimi, and Fernando from the equation. Whilst Toto did not explicitly rule out either of the Red Bull Racing drivers, it is highly unlikely either would be released from what are understood to be long term contracts.

This has left many to suggest Bottas has the most likely candidate for the seat. He is part managed by Toto Wolff and with Williams working in close collaboration with Mercedes a deal in theory could be easy to achieve. I see this to be quite unlikely. 2016 was somewhat of an underwhelming season for both Bottas and Williams. If the cliché of ‘you are only as good as your last race / season’ were to be applied. Bottas is not hot property and should not be regarded as the next best option.

Taking all of this into consideration I believe the best placed driver on the grid to replace Nico Rosberg for 2017 is Sergio Pérez. With 101 points, and 2 podium finishes in 2016 Sergio Pérez was the best performing non works Mercedes driver. He lead the Force India team to their most successful year in history, finishing 4th in the constructors championship scoring points in 16 events over the season. From a pure performance perspective Sergio Pérez has to be regarded as a genuine contender for the seat.

Over and above on track performance, Pérez is highly attractive from a commerical perspective. Mexico is a hugely important market for Mercedes, the car maker is looking to double car sales in the country by 2020. Having a national hero behind the wheel of a Silver Arrows would support this strategy.  Beyond this Sergio Pérez brings his own sponsors to a team. Mercedes are not a team struggling for budget, but opening doors to the Slim family (Telmex Group) will be more than welcome.

Of course Sergio recently signed a one year extension with Force India which in theory locks the Mexican in to the team until 2018, however were Mercedes to offer the services of Wehrlein alongside a discounted Power Unit I am sure an agreement could be found.

Sergio Pérez is a changed driver from the man who replaced Lewis Hamilton at Mclaren in 2013. He has proved his consistency and ability to work with a team during his time with Force India. He deserves another opportunity with a top team. He is the most logical option for Mercedes.

Would it prove to be a threat to Lewis Hamilton? Only time will tell. His has a unique ability to manage tyres and with the huge shift in regulations coming for 2017 this attribute could prove invaluable. At this time Sergio Pérez’s management have declined to comment on the possibility of such a move, but there should be no doubt they will be evaluating any opportunity should it arise.

Formula One: Red Bull Racing confirm ExxonMobil Partnership

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 15.28.52.png

After months of speculation Red Bull Racing and ExxonMobil have confirmed a new partnership from 2017 and beyond. The partnership will see ExxonMobil become the official fuel and lubricant supplier for the team.

At this time it is not clear if the partnership will extend to Scuderia Toro Rosso. It is also not clear if Renault will also switch to ExxonMobil supply, and if Mclaren will retain ExxonMobil supply.

Should Renault maintain the Total fuel and lubricant supply partnership in 2017, Red Bull Racing running alternative fuel supply will necessitate a separate power unit development programme.

As a team partner, official fuel partner, official lubricant partner, and official motor oil partner of the team in 2017, ExxonMobil will provide Red Bull Racing with leading-edge Mobil 1™ lubricants and Synergy Race Fuels. ExxonMobil will deliver engineering support to develop next-generation lubricants designed to improve race car engine and gearbox performance.
The company’s Mobil 1 and Esso brands will feature on  cars, driver overalls and helmets, as well as being displayed at the Red Bull Racing Factory in Milton Keynes, and at trackside events.

Commenting on the partnership Team Principle Christian Horner remarked:

“Mobil 1 and Red Bull Racing are two global brands that share a passion for racing, performance and innovation. Mobil 1 has been an iconic brand in Formula One for more than 30 years and our new partnership provides us with a unique opportunity to tap into ExxonMobil’s world class expertise.”
Christian added: “In addition to welcoming ExxonMobil to the Red Bull Racing stable, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the technical team at TOTAL, who have made a valuable contribution to our success in Formula One during our partnership.”
Matt Bergeron, vice-president of marketing for ExxonMobil Fuels, Lubricants & Specialties Marketing Company, said: “Red Bull Racing provides a dynamic platform to showcase our world-class lubricant and fuels technologies. We are excited about building a relationship with Red Bull’s excellent young drivers who are establishing reputations as competitive racers and who will help showcase our brands to generations of consumers.”
The new ExxonMobil and Red Bull Racing partnership extends the Mobil 1 synthetic lubricant brand’s successful 38-year involvement in Grand Prix racing. Mobil 1 has lubricated more than 100 Grand Prix-winning cars, and has won six Formula One world drivers’ championships and five Formula One world constructors’ championships since entering the sport in 1978.
There will be more news to follow in the coming days on this and related stories.