Category Archives: Renault

Formula One: Silly Season revisited

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The 2016 silly season on the face of it has turned out to be some what of a damp squib. With Mercedes, Ferrari, & Red Bull locking down their drivers early on change at the front of the field has been ruled out

Back in May this year I made a few predictions around changes. As the F1 circus returns from a well deserved summer break, outstanding driver agreements will feature highly on many teams ‘to do’ lists. Based on the current driver market I’ve revisited my silly season predictions. It’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below or through twitter (@jonnywilde)

Mercedes AMG Petronas:

As predicted Nico Rosberg’s contract with the team has been renewed. This comes despite a number of incidents between Nico & Lewis on track. Rosberg now has a contract with Mercedes until 2018. This sees his agreement fall in line with Hamilton’s contract. If nothing else, salary demands of Lewis and Nico by 2018 are likely to necessitate a change in line up. With this in mind Mercedes are priming Wehrlein and Ocon as future works drivers.

 Scuderia Ferrari:

Many expected the Scuderia to replace Kimi Räikkönen in 2017, I suggested Sergio Perez would be the ideal candidate to take on the role, but with a strong first half of the year Ferrari have elected to maintain the Vettel, Räikkönen line up for a 3rd season. Kimi’s life away from the track appears to be having a positive effect on his performance as a driver and as a Ferrari brand ambassador. With changes in the Ferrari management team, driver stability for 2017 and perhaps beyond could be a good thing.

Red Bull Racing

At the time of writing my original silly season article, I commented Verstappen was a shoe in for the second seat with Red Bull Racing alongside Daniel Ricciardo. I also suggested it could happen before the end of the year. I did not expect it happen so quickly. Nor did I expect Max to win a race in 2016! (did anyone?) Both Daniel and Max are now locked down at Red Bull Racing until at least 2018. Putting the Red Bull Racing Junior Driver Development programme on hold.

Williams Martini Racing

2016 has been tough for Williams. The team have fallen behind in the development race, possibly / hopefully due to an early switch in focus to 2017. With engine performance convergence emerging, budget shortfalls in comparison to the top 3 have been felt more than in recent seasons. It seems to be widely expected that 2016 will be Felipe Massa’s last year in F1, with this in mind Botta’s performances haven’t been strong enough. I suggested in the previous article that Kyvat and Bottas’ would be a formidable line up for the team. I now see this as less likely. I struggle to buy into the Button return narrative, but can imagine sponsors would be more than happy to see him re-join the team. That being said if Williams adopt a bold strategy they could look towards development driver Alex Lynn, and replace Bottas with Jenson. If they require funding alongside a driver, Perez could be attractive, although this would be nothing more than a lateral move for the Mexican.

Mclaren Honda

Jenson Button is out of contact at the end of this season. Fernando Alonso is contracted until the end of 2017. The team have Stoffel Vandoorne waiting in the wings. I expected Jenson to leave the team at the end of the season, If the 2017 Mclaren Honda is not in a championship contending position I also see Alonso finally calling time on his F1 career. Stoffel will step up into a race seat with the team for 2017, but who will he race along side? Whilst the original Mclaren Perez relationship did not end well in 2013. Sergio brings substantial backing and has consistently over delivered for Force India. Could he be an outside bet for a seat with Mclaren? The team has the manufacturer backing Perez’s sees as a must to contend for future championships.  With the top team drives locked down, Honda or Renault are his next best bet.

Sarhara Force India

Vijay Mallya has gone on record to state both drivers will be retained for 2017. I do not see this happening. As mentioned above I believe Sergio will move on to pastures new. To me the same logic applies to Hülkenberg. Neither driver is going to contend for championships with Force India. Neither driver is getting any younger. I believe Hülkenberg will move away from F1 towards WEC in 2017. This leaves Force India will a huge budget and talent shortfall. The team may look towards Mercedes and taking on a development driver in the form of Pascal Wehrlein for 2017, who on circuits with which he has prior knowledge has looked very impressive at Manor this season. The team could overcome the budget shortfall and maintain the Mexican links with the team through promoting Alfonso Celis or picking up Esteban Gutiérrez after his tough return to the sport with Haas. Equally, the team have Russian driver Nikita Mazepin on their books, he brings backing in the form of Uralchem and whilst a little hot tempered has performed strongly in junior series.

Renault

2016 was always a holding / building year for the team. They inherited a driver partnership with Jolyon Palmer and to be honest, he has looked a little out of his depth at times this season. I don’t expect the team to retain him. Renault are keen to re-establish the French connection with the team. Assuming Ocon performs well at Manor in the second half of this season I expect him to move over the Renault for 2017. Renault will be keen for the French man to sever his links to Mercedes moving forward and will likely be prepared to pay for the privilege. The other seat at Renault, to me, is between Kevin Magnesun and Sergio Perez. The team know KMag, and know what he can do with the car, but in Perez they have a driver capable of over achieving and a driver with significant backing and a huge fan base. Perez and Ocon would be a strong line up for a team rebuilding and looking to challenge for future championships.

Scuderia Toro Rosso

I expect the driver line up of Sainz and Kyvat to go unchanged into 2017. Sainz was confirmed earlier in the season, his role is secure. With Kyvat the story is a little different, he has struggled since returning to the team from Red Bull Racing. His ultimate pace and skill are not in question. The team must work with him to rebuild his self confidence. STR has historically been the home of junior Red Bull drivers. Pierre Gasly would be the logical driver to make the step up to the team in 2017, but I personally see Red Bull placing him else where, possibly with Manor. STR in order to grow should no longer be seen as a proving ground for future Red Bull Racing drivers and with the current line up at RBR locked down until 2018, STR have an opportunity to operate as their own entity.

The Haas F1 Team

After an incredible start in F1, Haas have settled in a midfield team. I expect 2017 will be a huge challenge for the team. With major regulations changes and the team no longer having such unregulated support from Ferrari I expect them to be battling at the very rear of the field. Grosjean appears to have very few options away from the team, that being said a return to Renault should not be ruled out. For Haas to bring F1 to America they would do very well to sign Indy 500 winner Alex Rossi for 2017 alongside Grojean. I expect Esteban Gutiérrez to move on.

The Sauber F1 Team

With the future of the team secure through Longbow Finances. The Swiss based team can look towards rebuilding themselves. Security in reality has come a little too late to kick start a 2017 challenge into anything more than a return to consistent points finishes, but this is a great place to start. Stories continue to swirl around Marcus Ericsson’s backers being behind the Longbow Finance investment into the team. My personal take is that even if this is true I do not believe the backing is linked to Ericsson maintaining a drive with the team. Investments are made with an expectation of return not simply to pay for a drive. That being said I hope the team will maintain their current line up into 2017. Stability during a period of rebuilding is key, and it should not be forgotten both Nasr and Ericsson are more than capable of turning in strong performances.

Manor Racing

The Manor Racing team have a history of announcing driver partnerships very late on into the year. Rio Haryanto’s mid season demotion to reserve driver demonstrate the continued reliance on drivers with backing. I expect the team will be keen to maintain a development driver relationship to a larger team, be that with Pascal Wehrlein and Mercedes or Gasly and Red Bull Racing (despite the Mercedes power unit agreement) The second seat at Manor, I believe will be taken by Jordan King. He has performed admirably in GP2 this season with Racing Engineering and brings a healthy budget to his seat. It should not be forgotten his father supported the team in their re-emergence from bankruptcy.

Spa, Monza and Singapore have a history of being a circuit in which driver announcements are made, expect significant news in the coming weeks.

 

Formula One: Canel’s return to Renault Sport

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Branding of the Mexican confectioner Canel’s has returned to the livery of the Enstone based team Renault Sport F1  for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Whilst the team are yet to issue a press release on the partnership, it is believed the partnership has been renewed following a successful trial at the Mexican Grand Prix in 2015. It is likely the partnership will also include the 2016 US & Mexican Grand Prix.

Canel’s branding can be found on the lower section of the RS16 engine cover.

To find out more about Canel’s click here

image credit: auto-motor-und-sport.de

Formula One: Palmer “I did also offer to get the spanners out”

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Renault Sport F1’s Jolyon Palmer reflects on his challenging Monaco Grand Prix, the aftermath of the weekend, and looks ahead to Montréal.

What went wrong for you in the Monaco Grand Prix?

 

We went over the data and it looks like it was the lower grip as I crossed the white lines of the zebra crossing which meant my wheels span as I pushed to accelerate. The car was pitched sideways and I collected the barriers. It was just the wrong place

at the wrong time. I had a bit of bruising on my feet so it was just my ego and the car that had to suffer.
I have been in Enstone since Monaco, to get some time in the Sim, but I did also offer to get the spanners out to help build the new chassis… I’m very grateful for all the hard work that goes in at the track and back in Enstone and Viry and I did more than my fair share of damage to the car in Monaco.
Away from the track, Monaco is such a big week and you really feel it afterwards. On Monday night I slept a straight 14 hours to recover; I was exhausted! It’s a really cool weekend, but it’s just so busy! You start a day early then there’s no track running on Friday
but all kinds of exciting media initiatives including showcasing the R.S.16 Clio which was cool
What are your thoughts heading to Montréal?
I was there last year and I realised what a really cool city it is. It’s also one which genuinly embraces Formula 1 coming to town so can’t wait to return. The track itself looks great with good overtaking opportunities. There has been good racing there in the past so it’s exciting to be headed for my first race there.
I will get the B spec power unit for the first time. It looked like it made a good difference in Monaco and Canada is a more power-hungry circuit so if it was a positive step in Monaco it should certainly help our cause in Montréal.
The new engine mapping certainly looks to have been beneficial and you need good traction in out of the lower speed corners in Canada. It’s got more power too so everything is good in that regard!
We should be a good chunk more competitive. We’ll do everything we can to maximise the car around the track and we’ll be pushing all the way as usual!

Formula One: Disappointing double retirment for Renault Sport

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Renault Sport Formula One Team suffered a disappointing double retirement from an eventful Monaco Grand Prix. Kevin Magnussen showed promising progress with an early swap to intermediate tyres after a race start on full wet tyres behind the safety car. Kevin’s potential was ultimately undone by an unfathomable onslaught from a one-lap-down Daniil Kvyat. He continued to race but subsequently ended up in the barriers again and retired from the Grand Prix. Jolyon Palmer’s race was far shorter, ending after aquaplaning into the barriers on the main straight, then into the barriers at Sainte Devote on the eighth lap.

Kevin Magnussen, #20, R.S.16-02: Started P16, DNF
“We had a good start to the race and made a really good strategic call to change to the intermediate tyres just after the safety car. We were the only ones to do it so early and it was the right decision. We were in a good position as a lot of people were still to pit and we gained a lot of places. Unfortunately, Kvyat just lost his mind and crashed into me and that was effectively the end of my race. We did continue and made an early change to slicks as we had nothing to lose, but ultimately I hit the wall and damaged the front wing. We were several laps down at that point and the car had been in the wars so it was safer to retire. It’s a shame we didn’t have a good weekend as we were very optimistic for the race. Now we have to shift our focus to Canada and have a better weekend there. Montréal should be a stronger track for us and should play to the strengths of the updates for the car.”

Jolyon Palmer, #30, R.S.16-03: Started P18, DNF
“The traction was appalling after the safety car and I got caught out. I had wheelspin in fifth gear on the white line that crosses the track. There was nothing I could do – I was just a passenger and went straight away into the wall. It’s so difficult as we know that the white lines are slippery but they are everywhere. I’m disappointed as I love this track and it’s been good for me in the past. But I’m now looking forward to Canada and putting this weekend behind me. Monaco hasn’t been good to me this year so we need to move on to the next race and look for a better weekend.”

Fred Vasseur, Racing Director
“It was a tough weekend for both cars. Jolyon’s race ended on the straight as soon as the race got underway. He had a pretty serious shunt, a fast one, and that put an end to his day; there was nothing to be done. For Kevin, he asked to swap to intermediates pretty early in the race which was a good call, despite suffering from being in traffic for a while. His race effectively ended thanks to the incident with Kvyat which is a shame especially as there may have been something to be done from where he was ranked as we had a strategy that was slightly out of step from everyone else’s. In any case, we’ll go lick our wounds and move our focus to Canada.”

Formula One: Toro Rosso return to Renault, RBR extend

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As speculated on JWGP yesterday ,Renault have this morning announced that Scuderia Toro Rosso will return to Renault Power Unit supply for 2017. The agreement will see the team use in year technology for the 2017 & 2018 with the freedom to badge the engine as they see fit. Similar to the TAG Heuer Red Bull Racing Partnership, who have also extended their relationship with the French manufacturer through the 2017 & 2018 seasons.

Speaking on the partnership Jérôme Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing, commented: ‘We are very pleased to partner with two such strong teams as Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Having competitive partners demonstrates the confidence both have in the improved Renault power unit and in our organisation as a whole.’

On the extension of the Renault RBR agreement Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal, said: “We are delighted to extend our partnership which has proved very successful over time. After the reconstruction that Renault has undertaken, clear progress has been made which has made it logical to continue with the TAG Heuer badged engine.”

With this deal confirmed, no further changes are expected in team a  Power Unit supply across the remainder of the grid for the foreseeable future.

Formula One: ‘No Comment’ from Renault on 2017 Power Unit Supply

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Renault have declined to comment on plans around teams to whom they will supply power units to in 2017.  Power unit manufacturers were required to supply the FIA with a list of works and customer teams for the 2017 season by May 15th (the Spanish Grand Prix) So far Honda and Mercedes have confirmed no change in team supply, leaving Renault and Ferrari to confirm plans.

Renault’s reluctance to share information on power unit supply suggests a change in team allocation  is to be expected. With the 2016 spec power unit a significant step forward for the manufacturer and further gains being seen as the manufacturer develops the unit, it can be expected customer teams may have approached the French manufacturer.

It is highly likely Red Bull Racing will continue ‘white label’ PU supply agreement, with Scuderia Toro Rosso the most likely team to switch back to Renault to ensure 2017 technology. Sauber and Haas are the other Ferrari customers, Haas have a long-term partnership with Ferrari with no change expected. Sauber whilst long standing customers of the Scuderia may consider a change if the Renault PU is more affordable.

Formula One: Admiral Yachts join Renault in Monaco

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Admiral Yachts branding can be seen on the engine cover of the R.S.16 this weekend in Monaco. The partnership will include a technical collaboration between the groups. Admiral Yachts is a member of The Italian Sea Group, one of the biggest conglomerate groups in the boating industry.

In a rare public comment since returned to team ownership, former team owner, now team shareholder Gerard Lopez, Renault Sport Formula One Team, Director comments:

“This is an exciting new partnership between Renault Sport Formula One Team and Admiral Yachts. Admiral Yachts are at the cutting edge in their field so there are many synergies between us and them. They utilise sophisticated design processes and hybrid power so there are distinct areas where we can both add valuable input to each other’s business. As a global entity The Italian Sea Group alliance covers all sectors from entry level to the luxury segment. Our association with the luxury brand Admiral Yachts has fantastic synergies with our portfolio of partners also in the premium sector including Infiniti, Bell and Ross, APL and Devialet. There is no better location to herald this new union than the jewel in the Formula1 crown, the Monaco Grand Prix, and we are both looking forward to a fruitful future together.”

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Giuseppe Taranto, CEO, The Italian Sea Group, adds:
“We are proud to commence this relationship on the year of the fiftieth anniversary of Admiral Yachts and we were naturally drawn to the gold represented on the best looking car on the Formula 1 grid. The speeds of a Formula 1 car and those of a luxury yacht are very different yet both are at the represent the very forefront of technology. We are harnessing the exciting area of hybrid power in a very different form to that seen in a Formula 1 car, yet our engineers will be able to learn a lot from the Formula 1 relationship and I hope we can give valuable insight to Renault Sport Formula One Team too.”

Further information on Admiral Yachts can be found here. Its seems we may have found the Renault Sport F1 team’s hideout for the weekend!

 

Formula One: Renault PU update worth 0.5 second a lap

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The Renault Sport F1 team’s Technical Director, Rémi Taffin, has estimated the updated Renault power unit used by both the works Renault Sport team and Red Bull Racing, under Tag Heuer branding, will deliver up to half a second in performance per lap once introduced. 

Speaking on the engine development plans so far in 2016 Rémi commented:

“The power unit we have used since the first race in Australia was really a continuation of the work started in the ‘Spec D’ power unit we introduced at the tail end of 2015. We explored some concepts in that earlier iteration and the 2016 unit took them further, for example in the turbo. This new spec goes even further down the line and also includes significant modifications to the combustion system. It will make the ICE more powerful but also efficient, leading to a gain of around half a second per lap. We’ve used a small proportion of our token allocation for this upgrade.”

When quizzed on timing around the introduction of the upgraded power unit Rémi went on to explain:

“The current power unit used since Australia has had several smaller upgrades and all the drivers were very happy with the standard in Spain. In parallel, we’ve been working on the new spec since the start of the season but needed to sign off all the parts for reliability and mileage before using on track. The tests were very positive and showed it to be more powerful and driveable. We had originally planned to use the new version in Canada when the current units are scheduled to be removed from the cycle, but if we can get the units together and completely validated by Monaco we will use the ones available at this race.”

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Rémi went on to confirm that whilst Renault will continue to develop the 2016 power unit and are set to have a large amount of performance tokens available to do so, the team are fully focused on optimising the 2017 power unit:

“We will continue our development over the rest of the season,using tokens with a view to getting on board any useful items identified from our 2017 work. We are principally focused on 2017 and making that next power unit as optimal as possible.”

This may not be the news Red Bull Racing were hoping to hear, having elevated the RB12 into a race winning contender they may be looking for support from their engine supplier to mount a championship challenge.

Formula One: Renault Sport teammates’ near miss

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Spectator footage has emerged revealing how close  a second set of teammates came to colliding at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday. In the final lap of the Grand Prix Renault Sport F1 team teammates Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen came within centimetres of colliding in the final sector of the lap.

Battling over 13th place Jolyon, running heavily warn hard compound tyres came under intense pressure from Kevin, running fresh soft compound tyres, was forced to take avoiding action to avert a race ending collision for both cars, following a questionable overtaking attempt from the Dane.

The incident was not captured in the world feed broadcast, but was caught be spectators in this footage:

Whilst unnoticed by the world feed the incident was seen by the FIA, Kevin Magnussen was awarded a 10 second penalty to his finishing time demoting him to 15th place in the overall race standings.

The post race stewards report commented:

“Car 20 [Magnussen] was on a new set of soft tyres, and Car 30 [Palmer] was on an older set of hard tyres leading the driver of Car 20 to have significantly better grip and speed. However, the Stewards determined that Car 20 could not have reasonably expected to make the corner of Turn 13 without colliding with Car 30, which was subsequently forced off the track.

“The Stewards imposed the penalty referred to, which was converted to a time penalty after the race as the cars were on the last lap”

Neither team or driver have formally commented on the incident.

Formula One: Friday 13th hits Renault Sport!

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Tyre failures, flat batteries, low grip, and pressure loss! Any superstitious members of the Renault F1 Team will be happy to see the back of running on Friday 13th.

Esteban Ocon got his first running in the R.S. 16 during FP1 for the Spanish Grand Prix. Unfortunately the session was cut short without Ocon having the opportunity to set a representative lap time:

Esteban:I was really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the R.S.16 so it was a shame that Friday the Thirteenth decided to pick on the team and I! I did get a brief amount of time in the car, but I didn’t even get a timed lap so it’s too early for any real thoughts about driving the car as I didn’t have an opportunity to really push. The team could see the tyre was losing pressure so I was brought in. I waited in the garage until I could go back out on the next set of tyres then the battery had an issue so it definitely wasn’t my day!”

Ocon will be back  behind the wheel of the R.S 16 in day two of the post race weekend test next week.

Jolyon Palmer took over from Ocon in FP2, but seemed to carry to Frenchman’s poor luck into the session.

Jolyon “That was pretty unfortunate. We don’t know what caused the puncture and it was frustrating to lose so much track time. We thought we might not be able to get out again after the car was recovered, however my crew was able to do a fantastic job to repair the damage so I’m thankful for those laps at the end of the session. Fortunately, Barcelona’s a track I know well so I’m looking forward to a busy day behind the wheel tomorrow.”

Despite these issue’s Palmer was able to set a time good enough for 17th in FP2 completing 16 laps in total.

Kevin Magnussen certainly had a bit more luck than his team mates finishing 11th and 14th in FP1 and 2 respectively. Despite this progress in performance for the team Kevin was keen to make clear grip remains a critical issue

Kevin “Grip levels felt pretty low in the morning but things improved through the day. It looks like I was definitely on the lucky side of the garage today so I hope the luck holds for the rest of the weekend. We’ve got a good idea of where we want to go after today and I think our pace is around where we expected it to be.”