Category Archives: F1

Formula E: Renault commit to the EV sector through Motorsport

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RENAULT AT THE FOREFRONT OF ALL-ELECTRIC MOTORSPORT

Ranking amongst some of the most innovative companies in the world, Renault is at the forefront of the electric automotive sector with vehicles such as its Z.E. range, as well as the iconic ZOE and Twizy. And thanks to its motorsport commitments and unique racing pedigree in a range of categories, the French carmaker is also helping to foster the move towards more sustainable racing.

Recognising its potential, Renault jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the FIA’s all-electric championship as soon as it was announced in 2011. Travelling to some of the world’s most famous cities, Formula E’s ethos fits in perfectly with the French manufacturer’s environmental strategy. In keeping with its identity as a pioneer, Renault has made the most of the championship as an international platform in order to showcase its proficiency and expertise in electric systems. With innovation and excellence etched into Renault’s DNA, it was only natural that the manufacturer would support Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot’s bold venture into the world’s first fully electric competition.

Renault has been directly involved in Formula E’s development since 2014, contributing on both technical and sporting matters.

It was appointed Formula E’s Official Technical Partner, with Renault Sport Technologies overseeing all systems integration as well as supervising powertrain electrical safety and performance optimisation on the 200kW Spark-Renault SRT_01Es.

Renault also served as a partner to the Renault e.dams squad, which went on to win the inaugural 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Teams’ championship.

Renault’s commitment to the sport has equally portrayed its readiness to apply the technological progress to all-electric vehicles in general, boost engine performance and improve battery autonomy.

For the 2015/16 season Renault has increased its involvement with reigning Teams’ title-holders, Renault e.dams. Producing its own powertrain, Renault has exclusively devoted its technical expertise to the team, which is determined to continue fighting at the front and has both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles in its sights for season two. The cutting-edge technologies developed by Renault Sport for Formula E could subsequently benefit the constructor’s Z.E. range of road-going cars.

Cyril

CYRIL ABITEBOUL
RENAULT SPORT F1 MANAGING DIRECTOR

“Renault has a long history of embracing innovation in competitive motorsport. Our operations base in Viry-Châtillon has produced some of the most evocative and successful technology ever seen on track, including the 1970s Formula 1 turbo engine and V10 and V8 power plants that dominated F1 in the ’90s and 2000s.

“Ahead of Formula E’s second season, Viry’s full experience and expertise is being applied with one aim – to continue in the spirit of adventure and innovation, mirroring the success enjoyed in other motorsport disciplines.

Continuing Renault’s spirit of adventure and innovation, and mirroring the success enjoyed in other motorsport disciplines start with harnessing synergies between our motorsport disciplines. Through our F1 power unit we have developed a range of competences in electrical technology that will only be furthered by running in Formula E. In this way, and others, we hope to realise the full potential of Renault across all our competitive activities.”

Opinion: Formula E appears to offer the perfect vehicle for Renault to demonstrate it’s commitment to the EV sector, it should be considered significant that Cyril Abiteboul features in the press launch of Renault’s season 2 campaign, further underlining Renault have options away from Formula One. Renault eDams have focused solely on winning both the drivers and constructors championship in Formula E season 2. If things don’t go there way in F1, Formula E offers a very healthy alternative.   

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Formula One: Sochi Stats & Round Up

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What a difference a year makes! Formula One returned to Russia this weekend and for most fans it was fair to say expectations of a great race were pretty low. Thankfully the second running of the Sochi GP proved to be a huge improvement, with excitement through to the final lap.

Congratulations to Lewis on his win, to Mercedes in clinching their 2nd successive constructors crown, and a huge congratulations to Sergio Perez and the Force India team for a well deserved podium. Gambling on an early pit stop during the send safety car period Sergio kept his calm despite huge almost overwhelming pressure to claim his second podium for the team

Congratulations also to Pirelli on the extension of their sole supply agreement to F1 through to 2019. Further details to follow in due course. In the meantime enjoy this inspired Ushanka (pictured) look Pirelli bought to the podium and these fantastic info-graphics!

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Formula One: Carlos Sainz & Team update

Sainz
Driver & Team Update:
Carlos Sainz (STR10-04, Car 55)
Third Practice Session – Best lap: 1:42.683, pos. 15th, 19 laps
Qualifying – did not take part
“Hi everyone! As you can see I am fine. My back and my neck are just a bit sore from the accident, but I’m totally ready. Hopefully tomorrow I will wake up in a good shape and maybe I can try and race – this is definitely the intention! Obviously we need to be cautious… I’ve always been conscious. As soon as the accident happened I tried to talk to the team on the radio, but it wasn’t working and those must have been some scary moments… I’d like to thank everyone for their support, it’s really nice to receive all your messages at a moment like this one! I hope to see you all tomorrow out there!”
 
Phil Charles (Chief Race Engineer)
“Our first considerations are obviously for Carlos. It was quite a big crash for him but it’s good to know that he feels well. We will now need to wait until tomorrow morning to hear if his final FIA medical checks are okay.
On the engineering side we are still finalising the details of our crash investigation. However so far there are no significant findings to talk about. From a personal point of view I am quite impressed to see that the car has survived such a shunt in quite a healthy way: the nose crush zone has worked very efficiently and the four wheels were still retained by the tethers. The monocoque looks to be in good shape as well.
Talking a little more about the car performance, both drivers were settling down nicely in P3 before Carlos’s crash, doing long-run tyre tests early on. In qualifying with Max, he did a good job as we were still evolving our approach as well, given we didn’t get a short run with either driver in P3. Most significantly we had to make a decision on the way we used the tyres selecting between build-push or push-charge-push. We elected for the second option in Q3. It is obviously difficult to say for sure which would have been better but Max put together a pretty good lap and I think we achieved most of what we could have today with our package.”
Franz Tost (Team Principal)
“I’m very happy that Carlos is ok and out of hospital, this is the most important thing for us! I hope he will have a good night’s sleep and tomorrow morning he will have to go through the FIA medical checks to decide if he will be able to take part in tomorrow’s race. Now, just to clarify what happened, prior to the accident, Carlos had completed a long-run on the Option tyre, before changing to the Prime to do two further laps. On Primes the grip level is lower. In addition he had changed the brake shape on the steering wheel, which meant he had more braking rearwards. A combination of these two factors might have been the cause of the rears locking, which made the car uncontrollable.”
Opinion: Carlos Sainz was fortunate to avoid serious injury in this FP3 incident. Whilst the team remain unclear as to the cause, the implication from Franz Tost appears to be driver error.  All parties seem hopeful Sainz will participate in tomorrow’s race. Presumably to be considered mandatory FIA regulated medical tests will need to be completed tomorrow morning. 

Opinion : Social Media and Formula One

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Barely a day goes by went I don’t see someone commenting on the need for Formula One to embrace social media.  The latest coming Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche

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“F1 must instead embrace the digital world and develop interactive strategies”

There can be no denying Formula One Management, FOM,  have taken a very cautious approach to social media, on the face of it this is born out of concern around damaging the cash cow that has been national broadcasting rights and the lack of clarity around how to monetise social media. Both concerns are valid. Social Media in its current form is great for increasing brand awareness, but Formula One is established. So how will social media improve Formula One as a product?

2015 has seen significant investment from FOM in improving content available through social media and developing a vehicle to deliver this content seen in the much improved F1 app.  Charges exist around elements of the content available but a surprising amount of exclusive insight has been made available with no restrictions or charges.

This is just the start. The folk at FOM are a bunch of clever people, they haven’t let go of the challenge to monetise a social media following. Mindful of developments in other sports, they have identified a commercial opportunity. Rather than simply launching a service, in the true spirit of social media, they plan to make their followers believe they’ve devised the opportunity themselves. What is this opportunity? In race gambling. A long established gambling model in Football, Rugby, Horse Racing, In play gambling seems to be such a great fit for Formula One it’s amazing no one has thought about it already!

Working with Tata Communications FOM launched a fan competition earlier this year asking entrants to propose technical solutions to enable fans to make and communicate predictions on race outcomes during the race itself. The only element not called out in the project brief was suggesting fans ability to monetise successful predictions. Whilst the winning entries refer to awards for success in points, turning points money is not a huge step.

Armed with fan support FOM have potentially unlocked an entire new sector for the sport. FOM could integrate live odds into social media feed and develop gambling platform through their own service, or more likely demonstrate proof of concept and sell in race gambling rights to the highest bidder.

skysports

skybet

Imagine if Sky Sports Commentary included live odds available only through Sky Bet on events taking place during the race.

You may wonder what a fan could bet on during a race; the more appropriate question is what couldn’t they bet on, 1st pitstop for car 44, lap on which fastest lap would be set, the list is endless.

You may also wonder how the odds for such events would be calculated. Well the data is already in place, teams have predictive software running throughout a race weekend to optimise performance and results, the data collection used for this could adapted with minimal investment to develop live odds.

FOM have, through PayTV agreements, confirmed there is an audience prepared to pay for the sport. This audience is likely to have a high confidence around their appreciation for the sport and highly likely to be willing to put their money where their mouth is. Especially is there is a feeling of being able to outsmart the management!

So FOM use their social media platform to launch in race gambling. They prove the concept, sell the rights or allow teams to generate income through agreements with gambling sites (for a fee of course) and then what?  Formula One Management move on, on to the next project to further add value to the product that is Formula One.

Formula One – OPINION: Red Bull Racing to enter 2016 F1 season with Ilmor Engineering.

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Disclaimer. Views expressed in this blog are my own. They represent a rational pragmatic view of a situation.

I’ll kick off with the headline. Red Bull Racing will enter the 2016 F1 season with a self-funded engine program supported by Ilmor. Now I realise this view flies in the face of 90% of what the team and media are reporting, but hear me out. Why wouldn’t they?

In 1997, Dietrich Mateschitz purchased a majority shareholding in the Sauber F1 team; this investment came only 3 years after Red Bull launched globally. Dietrich Mateschitz is a self-made billionaire who only a few years prior to his F1 involvement invested his entire life savings on buying a 49% share in Taiwanese Beverage Company bought to his attention by chance when travelling on business suffering with jetlag. It can be safe to say that the first significant investment Dietrich Mateschitz made with his new found wealth was into Formula One. The cynic could say it was simply because he saw the marketing potential of the sport for his brand; my personal belief is he has a passion for motorsport. Either way, passion and marketing potential do not disappear overnight. Walking away from the sport, I believe, is not an option.

Take a second to consider the success of Red Bull. This did not happen by mistake, the growth and development of the business has been carefully structured and strategically managed. This approach to business would not allow itself to be reliant on the goodwill of its peers to allow it to stay in the market. We cannot be expected to believe that Red Bull Racing truly expect Ferrari or Mercedes to supply them with engines, media coverage around these talks has been managed as a distraction technique. Something those with experience of Formula One Management will be well versed in.

The struggles Renault & Red Bull Racing have experienced in the hybrid era of the sport did not come as a surprise to the team. In 2013 the team, despite clinching their fourth consecutive constructor’s championship were making moves to streamline the operation. In the knowledge of a drop in competitiveness the team discontinued the contracts of a number of employees working on temporary contracts. With the knowledge that performances were unlikely to meet those of their competitors it could be argued that the team began considering the long term future of their relationship with Renault at this point already.

In the first half of the 2014 season the Red Bull Racing Renault relationship rapidly deteriorated. Before the first lap of the Melbourne GP Red Bull Technologies had already seemingly taken on some responsibility of engine development entering into an agreement with AVL, the world´s largest privately owned and independent company for the development of powertrain systems with internal combustion engines, to resolve immediate performance issues and use the company rolling road facilities. At this time there was a rumour Red Bull Technologies signed off investment in their own in house rolling road.

Later in 2014 Helmut Marko publically earmarked the Austrian GP as a milestone date by which time Red Bull Racing expected Renault to have resolved performance issues. There was no public statement around the consequence of failing to meeting this milestone, but it is my opinion that this was this point at which Red Bull Technologies green lit their engine development partnership evaluation between AVL and Ilmor. Renault, in my opinion, had full awareness of this project and the likely end point.

Moving further forward consultation between Red Bull Technologies, Renault and Ilmor was made public; the details of the agreement remained unclear, but Mario Illien (Ilmor co-founder) was present as a guest of Red Bull Racing  at a number of races in 2014. It was stated that Mario Illen acted advisory capacity providing direction on possible development routes for the Renault power unit, earlier this year it was announced that Renault had elected not to take the development path outlined through the Ilmor partnership. In my opinion this represented Renault allowing a contractual option defined by Red Bull Technology to expire.

It is my belief that the ‘messy divorce’ between Red Bull Racing and Renault is around the Ilmor engine development program. The Ilmor program uses Renault developed technology as a baseline. Red Bull will argue they have been involved and invested in the development since the beginning and as such lay claim to the rights to the engine. Renault of course will disagree. This disagreement will be concluded through a financial settlement, and the basis for future Red Bull Racing engine supply will remain the original Renault power unit with development direction becoming Ilmor’s domain. The project may latterly be badged by another manufacturer.

When I have discussed this option in the past I have lambasted on two key points. Firstly, the time it take s to develop an engine, and secondly Red Bull can’t afford an engine program. I don’t see either of these arguments as valid.  To support this I contacted a Cosworth representative some weeks ago to understand the time they believe it would take to develop a power unit compliant with current regulations, their response; 10 months. Red Bull Technologies and Ilmor by the start of preseason testing for the 2016 season may have had as much as 18 months (Since the 2014 Austrian GP), and will have been using an existing engine to base the concept on  which would serve to further reduce the development  time required.  To address financing, how much do we believe it costs to develop an engine? If we consider Red Bull Racing have been awarded $200M in prize funds over the past two years alone, and have an extremely healthy sponsorship portfolio minimising the investment Red Bull have to make into their own racing team, despite operating as a private company and as such not reporting profits, we can be confident Red Bull is a highly profitable organisation. Red Bull has the money. It should also be noted the cost of engine development may not be paid up front. The cost of capital could be shared over future years performances, with FOM heritage payment assured Red Bull could borrow money against his assurance to fund an engine program if necessary. So in summary, they’ve had the time and they can afford it!

If Red Bull pulled out of F1 they face significant penalties from FOM and will be left with extensive racing infrastructure on their books. The cost of leaving the sport is greater the than the cost of a self-funded engine development route.

So, to 2016 and the prospects for Red Bull Racing & Toro Rosso, it is my view that the current ‘negotiations’ or lack thereof with Mercedes and Ferrari are somewhat of a front. Red Bull wants to position themselves as the injured party with no other option than a self-funded program. This will go some way to once again endear the team to fans of the sport. Success with the Ilmor project will not come overnight, but that is fine. The teams can spend 2-3 seasons as a capable mid field entrants, focusing on restoring their reputation as a fun team with the fans, whilst using their clout with FOM and the FIA to restore an emphasis on aerodynamics in future technical regulations.  Success in Formula One is cyclical. Red Bull, despite what we see through the media appreciates this and remains fully committed to the sport.

Formula One – Manor to race with Current Year Mercedes Hybrid power from 2016

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Following the conclusion of a multi-year supply agreement, Manor Marussia F1 Team will race with Mercedes-Benz Hybrid power from the 2016 season onwards. Since the introduction of the new Power Unit generation in 2014, the Mercedes-Benz Hybrid has set the competitive benchmark in the sport, claiming to date a total of 27 wins and 2,208 world championship points.

Under the terms of the agreement, Manor Marussia F1 Team will be supplied with Mercedes-Benz Power Units by Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) based in Brixworth, UK. The Power Unit will use Fluid Technology Solutions developed by PETRONAS, the technology partner of Mercedes-Benz. Under the agreement, Manor Marussia F1 Team will be supplied with current-year Power Units throughout the term.

John Booth, Team Principal, Manor Marussia F1 Team
“I am delighted to announce our new Power Unit partnership with Mercedes-Benz for the 2016 season and beyond. Although there were many factors governing our selection of an engine partner to help power us towards our long-term ambitions, ultimately the strength of the Mercedes-Benz package speaks for itself.

“2015 has been a rebuilding year in every aspect of our operation. Although we have not been able to make the incremental strides in competitiveness that the team has enjoyed in previous seasons, we have put in place a strong foundation from which to progress. Together with the potential we are seeing with our 2016 car in the wind tunnel, the Mercedes-Benz Power Unit will assist our return to aggressive performance development with effect from next season.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Scuderia Ferrari for their support for our team over the past two seasons. In 2014, together we shared in the momentous occasion of the team’s first points and in 2015 Ferrari supported us to a degree that was above and beyond the requirements of our partnership agreement. Quite simply, we could not have returned to the grid without them pushing extremely hard to support the MR03B, at the same time as focusing on their own 2015 package.

“I am also pleased to announce that we will resume our prior technical partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, from whom we will receive the supply of transmission and suspension components. Combined with Mercedes-Benz Power Units, we are very excited about the strength of our new powertrain package and what it means for the long-term future of our team.”

Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes AMG HPP:
“It is a great pleasure to welcome the Manor Marussia F1 Team to our stable of customers at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. They are a team of real racers with great spirit and impressive determination to succeed. We enjoy strong relationships with all our customer teams, and take pride in delivering a standard of hardware and service that reflects the high standards that Mercedes-Benz stands for. Furthermore, this new agreement should enable us to keep our supply roster at three customer teams for 2016, which is our ideal level in terms of technical and logistical capacity. We will be targeting gains in both performance and reliability for the 2016 Power Unit and look forward to delivering those to our new customers at Manor Marussia F1 Team.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Mercedes-Benz has a clear Formula One philosophy based around our works Silver Arrows team and supplying benchmark Power Units to independent customer teams. We believe this approach provides Formula One with greater strength in depth and ensures a deeper level of competitiveness throughout the field. In anticipation of Renault’s takeover of the Lotus F1 Team, we are pleased to announce Manor Marussia as a new customer of Mercedes-Benz. It is a tenacious team with a fantastic competitive spirit, and we are all excited to see what step forward they can make next year with their new car coupled with the Mercedes-Benz Hybrid Power Unit.”

Opinion – The widely expected Manor Mercedes Benz agreement has finally been confirmed, in what can only be described as a fantastic development for the team.  It can be assumed that Manor will look to secure a Mercedes Development driver within their 2016 lineup. With Manor taking on an informal role of junior or development team for Mercedes Benz. The key message to take away from this announcement is that Manor will run current year power units for the term of the agreement, this is guaranteed to bring the team up the grid and will strengthen their position against the incoming Haas F1 Team. Supply of Manor from Mercedes Benz will take current production facilities to capacity effectively closing the door to possible additional team supply.  

Formula Two – Significant Progress made towards GP2 morphing into the final step of the FIA Single Seater Ladder

FIA

FIA Formula 2 Championship

Significant progress has been made in negotiations with the promoter of GP2 regarding the establishment of the final step in the FIA’s single-seater ladder; the FIA Formula 2 Championship.

Discussions remain ongoing with the intention of finalising an agreement.

Full Press Release

Opinion: In amongst the F1 2016 calendar confirmation the FIA have publicly commented for the first time on progress around the progress of GP2 morphing into F2.  GP2 organisers have commented on the prospect but in recent months talks appeared to have stalled. It’s fantastic to see logic being applied to the development of the FIA single seater ladder. It will be interesting to see the timing around the transition and the FIA drivers license points requirements to enter the series.

Formula One – Mclaren Honda – #TurboHeros Campaign

#TurboHeros

Over the last 24-hours, you may have noticed McLaren-Honda’s social channels sharing some rather unusual posts…

Introducing the #TurboHeroes campaign.

Join the mighty Turbo Heroes, McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, as they battle the evil racer Exhaustus. Follow the thrilling journey across the globe in a tense battle to return mythical artefact – the Jade Dragon of Suzuka – to its spiritual home in Japan.

Turbo Heroes evokes the classic 8-bit gaming era of the 1980s with a series of innovative and unique gaming scenarios involving McLaren-Honda’s two racing heroes.

Watch Now

Opinion – Keen to move on from what must be one of the most challenging racing weekends in the history of the team, Mclaren have started the week well with the announcement of new sponsorship agreement with Chandon this morning, alongside kicking off this #TurboHeros campaign. This, hopefully first of many, films plays on the 80’s style games console memories, similar to the short film the team released prior to the car launch at the beginning of the year. The team successfully bring some much needed humour back to the sport in general and for themselves. These kind of Japanese themed campaigns will hopefully put to bed the continued rumours of unrest between Mclaren and Honda. They may also hint towards future additional Japanese partners….