Palmer joins BBC F1 radio coverage team for 2018

Ex-Renault Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer will join the BBC 5 Live F1 commentary team for its coverage of the 2018 season. 

The Briton, who recorded a career-best result of sixth place in 35 grands prix starts for Renault between 2016 and 2017, was replaced at the French manufacturer by Spaniard Carlos Sainz for the final four races of last season. 

Palmer will work alongside Jennie Gow and Jack Nicholls as part of BBC 5 Live’s coverage of every F1 session across the 2018 season, while he will also contribute on the BBC Sport website as an analyst. 

“I’ve worked with Jennie and Jack a lot but am more used to being grilled by them,” the 27-year-old said. ”It’s going to be great joining them in the commentary team and to get to ask the questions myself.

“I’m fascinated to see how the inter-team rivalry plays out and hope I’ll be able to bring my own knowledge of the personalities involved to shed further light on the relationships.”

Wehrlein, Russell to split Mercedes F1 reserve duties in 2018

Pascal Wehrlein and George Russell will split Mercedes’ reserve driver role between them during the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Wehrlein has moved back to the DTM championship he won in 2015 for this season, after losing his Sauber seat to Ferrari protege and reigning Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc. 

Despite missing out on a spot on the 2018 F1 grid, Mercedes made it clear it was keen to keep the German involved in its F1 operation.

Wehrlein will miss the French and Belgian Grands Prix due to clashing DTM rounds at the Norisring and Misano, meaning fellow junior Russell will takeover Mercedes’ reserve driver duties on those weekends.

The reigning GP3 champion will be both races anyway as part of his F2 campaign with ART Grand Prix. 

Russell took part in Friday practice outings with Force India in Brazil and Abu Dhabi last year and had been linked with a reserve role at the Mercedes customer team, until it announced fellow F2 racer Nicholas Latifi would fill the position instead. 

Wolff wants to take Halo off with a chainsaw 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits he would remove Formula 1’s Halo with a chainsaw if given the chance, adding he is “not impressed” with the controversial cockpit protection device.

Following the announcement of its mandatory introduction on all F1 cars for 2018, fans, drivers and team members alike have expressed displeasure regarding its aesthetics. 

Technical chiefs have also revealed the extent of the challenge of integrating the system, with Mercedes technical director James Allison recently saying the team’s W09 needed strengthening to the point where it could withstand the weight of a London double decker bus. 

“I’m not impressed with the whole thing,” Wolff said at the team’s launch of it’s 2018 challenger at Silverstone. “If you give me a chainsaw I would take it off. I think we need to look after the driver’s safety but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing. 

“We need to come up with a solution that simply looks better. It’s a massive weight on the top of the car, you screw up the centre of gravity massively.  As much as it’s impressive to look at the statistic that you could put a bus on top, this is a Formula 1 car.”

The FIA has rigorously tested the Halo system over the past few years to ensure the device will keep drivers safer, not only from the possibility of flying debris, but also with regards to impact accidents as well as driver extraction.

While Wolff was critical of the looks of the Halo, he believes the system cannot be flawed in terms of improving safety.

“The FIA has very thoroughly conducted all kinds of tests and possible scenarios and overall, the Halo makes it much more safer for the driver. Whether there are scenarios where a driver is trapped, probably these scenarios do exist, but overall it is safer with the Halo than without the Halo.”

F1 champions Mercedes reveal W09 at Silverstone

Reigning Formula 1 world champions Mercedes have officially unveiled its 2018 car, the W09, as it hunts a record-equalling fifth consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ world titles.

This year Mercedes has the chance to match Ferrari’s all-time record of five straight F1 drivers’ and constructors’ world championships secured with Michael Schumacher between 2000-2004. The German manufacturer has dominated the V6 hybrid era with a clean sweep of world titles from 2014-2017 and enters the new F1 season as strong favourites.

Repeating its 2017 season launch, Mercedes has presented its new F1 car at Silverstone in a dual shakedown test and filming day while broadcasting the launch both online and on television.

The F1 world champions name an unchanged driver line-up of Lewis Hamilton, preparing for his sixth season at Mercedes, alongside Valtteri Bottas who retains his place having replaced the retired Nico Rosberg last year.

Bottas was the first to debut the W09 during a short run at Silverstone. The Finn carried out a series of laps on the damp track in the morning before he is set to handover the car to four-time world champion Hamilton in the afternoon.

Having faced its toughest challenge in four years against Ferrari last season, which saw Sebastian Vettel lead the F1 drivers’ standings until round 13 at the Italian Grand Prix, Mercedes has laid out its plans to keep the positive ‘diva’ traits from its 2017 F1 car while refining its handling and consistency.

Mercedes’ W09 continues to run the familiar silver livery with highlights of turquoise while the team has received fresh backing from new sponsor Tommy Hilfiger who has designed the team’s apparel for the new season.

Additional reporting by Lewis Larkam

Mercedes W09 F1 car makes track debut at Silverstone

Mercedes’ 2018 Formula 1 challenger has hit the track for the first time at Silverstone, as the first images of the W09 surfaced.

The reigning F1 world champions are conducting a dual shakedown test and filming day at the British Grand Prix venue, before officially presenting its 2018 challenger later on Thursday.

Valtteri Bottas was the first to debut the W09 during during a short run at Silverstone. The Finn carried out a series of laps on the damp track in the morning before handing over the car to four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon.

Mercedes has the chance to match Ferrari’s all-time record of five straight F1 drivers’ and constructors’ world championships won between 2000-2004, having enjoyed a spell of domination at the top of F1’s pecking order in the V6 hybrid era that began in 2014.

It’s Halo-shod W09, which will be driven by Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas for the upcoming season, sticks to the traditional silver colours of the Mercedes brand, as well as featuring strands of turquoise and blue.

The German manufacturer heads into the new campaign as strong favourites, despite facing a significant challenge from a revitalised Ferrari spearheaded by Sebastian Vettel in 2017.

Toro Rosso drivers hail “great first day” with Honda 

Toro Rosso drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley have praised the Formula 1 team’s new engine partner Honda after a successful first day of running with their 2018 car. 
The Faenza-based squad became the only team on the 2018 grid to be supplied by Honda after McLaren’s split from the Japanese engine manufacturer, following a disastrous three-year spell of poor reliability and performance. 
But Red Bull’s junior outfit appeared to face no issues on its first shakedown test as part of a filming day at Italy’s Misano circuit, with Gasly tweeting: “Great filming day with Toro Rosso and Honda. Trouble free day! No joke.”
The Frenchman’s teammate Brendon Hartley added the test was “very wet” but said “the new girl ran super smooth.”
On Wednesday Toro Rosso leaked a picture of its own car ahead of its official unveiling on the morning of the first day of pre-season testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Monday. 
The image was shared after a picture of the car leaked on social media earlier in the day, with the team responding on Twitter: “Why settle for a leaked photo, when you can have an original.” 
Details about Toro Rosso’s STR13 were hard to fully ascertain given the angle of the image, but the car’s front-end and nose appears a similar shape to designs run by McLaren and Red Bull in recent years. 
Toro Rosso’s Halo – the controversial cockpit protection device mandatory on all cars in 2018 – is painted in the same blue as the car livery and featured a small aerodynamic fairing. 
2016 GP2 champion Gasly, who will contest his first full-season in F1 this year, also shared an image of his new helmet design for the upcoming campaign. 

Sainz: F1 drivers will need just 20 laps to adapt to Halo

Carlos Sainz has predicted Formula 1 drivers will require just 20 laps to fully adjust to the Halo cockpit protector on the 2018 cars as he throws his support behind the device.

Sainz, who joins Renault on loan from Red Bull for the 2018 F1 season, is confident the Halo won’t disturb his vision in the cockpit of the R.S.18 and from his previous experiences experimenting with the cockpit protector believes it won’t take long to adjust to.

The Spanish driver is gearing up for pre-season testing on home soil at Circuit de Catalunya and feels after 20 laps drivers will be comfortable with the Halo while he’s curious to understand the aerodynamic impact of the device on the new F1 cars.

“I think it can be an effective device,” Sainz said. “As drivers, we will have to adapt to it, 20 laps or so in testing should be enough time.

“The engineers will see how it affects aerodynamics. I have seen the work done in the wind tunnel back in the factory but now we need to test its behaviour on track.

“Visually, I don’t think the halo looks too bad once it has been integrated in the car. We will all get used to it and it will be normal fairly quickly.”

Last week Williams technical boss Paddy Lowe claimed everyone would forget about the Halo after just two races and the general reception of the F1 cars already launched, including Williams and Renault, has seen the Halo receive positive feedback in terms of integration.

The Halo becomes a mandatory safety device on all F1 cars from 2018 after being ratified into the sport’s rules by the FIA late last year.