Wolff opposed to scrapping Friday practices

While Toto Wolff is opening to reducing the length of Friday practices, the Mercedes motorsport boss has urged F1 not to drop it completely.

F1’s powers-that-be are currently looking at ways to spice of up grand prix weekends with changes set to come into effect in 2021.

One of the proposals on the table is doing away with Friday practices.

While some drivers such as Daniil Kvyat, and even team bosses like Christian Horner, believe F1 should scrap Friday’s running and only have a Saturday practice, Wolff feels this would be a wrong move for F1.

He told RaceFans.net: “We did that in the DTM many years ago and it felt like the weekend was not spectacular and special anymore.

“If it’s cut short in two days it takes some value out of a race weekend.

“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor racing and it’s the World Championship among engineers, drivers and the best teams and therefore that is a thing I wouldn’t change.

“I would leave it on Friday.

“What we can think about is cutting a session short on Friday or reducing the running time to 60-and-60 minutes rather than 90 minutes.

“These are things that are worth considering but I wouldn’t go for a radical cancellation of the Friday.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Wolff opposed to scrapping Friday practices appeared first on PlanetF1.

‘Gasly undone by crashes, Albon better than Kyvat’

Red Bull chose Alexander Albon to replace Pierre Gasly because Helmut Marko feels he is “better” than Daniil Kvyat while explaining that Gasly was undone by his testing crashes.

Last week Red Bull announced that Gasly, under-fire for a lack of results, would be heading back to Toro Rosso with immediate effect.

His place at Red Bull would go to rookie racer Albon for the final nine races, giving the team the opportunity to evaluate the driver before deciding on Max Verstappen’s 2020 team-mate.

Red Bull advisor Marko played a role in making the decision and recently explained it to Japanese publication, Autosport Web.

The Austrian reckons Red Bull did not see the best of Gasly this season as the Frenchman was unable to shrug off his pre-season crashes.

Gasly twice crashed the RB15 during the Barcelona tests, not only putting Red Bull on the back foot but he was also publicly blamed for the crashes by Marko.

“Not just once, but twice,” Marko told as-web.

“Yes, his crashes had a great effect on the team’s test programs. We were short on parts, and faced issues completing our tests.”

Asked if Gasly felt responsible, Marko said: “That’s definitely true. And even after the season began he was not able to erase it.”

He added: “Pierre until this year was fast, and there was no hesitation in overtaking during the race.

“However, the original speed has not come out at all this year.”

As for the team’s decision to put Albon in the car, Marko says he has been impressed by the Thai-British driver’s performances in his debut campaign.

“I am optimistic,” he said.

“To be honest it was unexpected that he showed such a good performance in his first year.

“Moreover, he has made steady progress from race to race.

“Alex’s contract only covers the remaining nine races of this year.

“No one has yet decided who will be Max’s team-mate next year so Alex should be able to grow and race without feeling any extra pressure.”

The decision to put Albon in the car instead of Daniil Kvyat came as a surprise to many especially as the latter is the one who stood on the podium at this year’s German GP.

Marko explained: “I think Albon is better.

“We know how fast Kvyat is, we can say that he has become a more complete driver. However, based on all factors, we chose Alex.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post ‘Gasly undone by crashes, Albon better than Kyvat’ appeared first on PlanetF1.

‘Red Bull offered Gasly seat to Alonso at Silverstone’

Red Bull approached Fernando Alonso around the time of the British Grand Prix, offering him Pierre Gasly’s race-seat only to receiving a “resounding ‘no’”.

Alonso walked away from Formula 1 at the end of last year but continues to make headlines as reports link to him a possible return in 2020.

It, however, could have been earlier had he accepted a Red Bull race-seat midway through this season.

Although Red Bull were publicly proclaiming that the team would stick with Gasly through to the end of this campaign, behind the scenes they were already shopping around at July’s British Grand Prix.

According to Mundo Deportivo, the Milton Keynes squad offered Gasly’s seat to Alonso only for the double World Champion to decline the offer.

“And it is not Fernando who approached Red Bull,” claims the report, “but it was the team led by Christian Horner who was interested in the driver.”

The answer though, was a “resounding ‘no’.”

When Alonso left F1 last year, he made his feelings on today’s sport well-known, saying he is unimpressed and uninterested in the lack of competition.

This is not the first time that Alonso has been linked to Red Bull with tech guru Adrian Newey revealing they were “very close” to signing him back in 2007.

“It’s one of those things that unfortunately never happened,” he told Esquire Magazine. “But it was very close.”

There were also talks in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 while last year Alonso stated that Red Bull also approached him in “Monaco and again in August” regarding a 2019 drive.

Red Bull denied the latter approaches while it remains to be seen whether this latest one will come with a rebuttal.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post ‘Red Bull offered Gasly seat to Alonso at Silverstone’ appeared first on PlanetF1.

Honda engine/penalty strategy is ‘very complicated’

Honda admit is is “very complicated” deciding when to introduce a new Spec 4 engine as it means penalties for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

Honda have already introduced two engine updates this season, the Spec 2 and Spec 3.

The latter has been in action since the French GP but already the Japanese manufacturer has another upgraded ready to go.

The question is when do the Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers take it.

“We are discussing all the time with the teams and we will decide when we apply a new engine or updated spec,” Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe told Motorsport.com.

“At the moment no decision has been made yet.

“It depends on the situation and timing and the result of the discussions with the teams.

“It’s very complicated.”

While Formula 1 returns from the summer break with Spa and Monza back-to-back, both high-speed high-power circuits, Singapore is likely to be the next race on the calendar have a really good chance of winning.

Then there is the Japanese Grand Prix, Honda’s home race and one in which they would love to excel.

Singapore will almost certainly be prioritised given it represents a significant opportunity for Red Bull to take another win this season, but Honda’s home race in Japan is only the fifth race after the summer break.

With Motorsport.com reporting that Honda believe their power unit can last six races without issues or losing performance, it is a case of balancing long-term goals with short-term ones.

Tanabe added: “We have two types of plan, long-term and short-term.

“After the race we review the situation, the condition of the PU, maybe two or three races is the short-term. And the long-term means until the end of the season.

“It is very complicated.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Honda engine/penalty strategy is ‘very complicated’ appeared first on PlanetF1.

‘Honda were still hurting from the McLaren years’

Max Verstappen believes Honda were still hurting from the McLaren years leading to a “cautious” beginning to the Red Bull relationship in 2019.

Honda returned to Formula 1 with McLaren in 2015 and, after three unsuccessful years, parted ways.

During that time McLaren and Fernando Alonso blamed Honda for their disappointing results, the Spaniard going as far as to call the Honda power unit a “GP2 engine” during the Japanese manufacturer’s home race.

The end of the McLaren relationship saw Honda initially take on Toro Rosso before Red Bull joined the party this season.

That has already resulted in five podium finishes for Verstappen, including two race wins, as well as a P3 for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.

With three of his top-three results coming in the last three races, Verstappen explained the upturn in form to Autosport: “I think the engine we started to take more out of it, because I felt like Honda didn’t want to break down.

“You can see we are pushing a bit harder, but it’s still fine.

“But after all the negative stuff they had at McLaren with all the engines blowing up and other things, they were a bit careful, and I think that is the right approach.”

The improvements, though, haven’t only come from Honda.

“Obviously we had our own little issues at the beginning of the year with the car not being exactly what we wanted it to be for some reason,” Verstappen said.

“We kept working hard, the factory also kept pushing very hard with new parts for the car very quickly, reacting.

“Of course Adrian [Newey] being on top of it, and I think very quickly we sorted out a car which was again really nice to drive.

“From Austria onwards, when we brought a few new bits, that seemed to be a turnaround for us, where we could finally really start pushing the car.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post ‘Honda were still hurting from the McLaren years’ appeared first on PlanetF1.

Ricciardo: Renault need a winning mentality

The checks and balances may be in place at Renault, however, Daniel Ricciardo feels the next thing his new team needs to adopt is a winning mentality.

Ricciardo joined the Enstone team at the start of this season having bid farewell to the championship-winning Red Bull team.

But while he moved from one past champion to another, the Aussie concedes that Renault, who last won a grand prix back in 2008, are lacking in confidence.

“From day 1 when I walked in there were already quite a few things already in place, from an engineering point of view and the structure of personnel and meetings,” he told GPFans.net.

“[There was] analysis of everything, tyre analysis, chassis development, all this.

“But I’d say that the big thing I probably felt was when I joined Red Bull, they were already winners.

“I noticed when I came here [to Renault] there was a bit of as lack of confidence because they had not won in a long time.

“It is not arrogance, just in the team there is a certain level of confidence or pride, which I didn’t feel was at Red Bull’s level. For good reason.

“But we are trying to get that going.”

Ricciardo, though, feels Renault began to improve at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Montreal saw the Aussie qualify fourth before racing his way to sixth place, one position ahead of his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

It remains Renault’s best showing of 2019.

“In Canada that was a moment I actually thought things had really changed,” he added.

“We qualified fourth and everyone was happy, but it wasn’t like we’d won the World title.

“It was like, alright we belong here now, and this is…so there was a really switch. That is half the battle with anything.

“As a driver as well, we are all talented at this level, but it is like that mentality: do you have what it takes to really believe that you can do it.

“It is the same with the team, mechanics, engineers, if they’ve got that mentality to really believe they can make they step, then that’s half the battle.

“That’s big thing I’ve seen, which is positive.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Ricciardo: Renault need a winning mentality appeared first on PlanetF1.

Abiteboul: Cheaper to alter tracks than aero rules

Cyril Abiteboul feels Formula 1 should look into changing the layout of the tracks to improve racing, rather than constantly revising aerodynamic regulations.

Although the sport is set to introduce a raft of new regulations for 2021, it seems almost every year something is being tweaked.

This year it was the wings and the bargeboards that were altered in the hope that cars could follow closer and that overtaking would be easier.

Renault team boss Abiteboul says the powers-that-be should rather look at the layout of the tracks.

“One thing I think we need to do a bit more is engineer the tracks,” he told Autosport.

“I would prefer a bit less over-engineering of the technical regulations, and a bit more engineering of the track layout, rather than investing into 20 cars that should be different every year.

“I would maybe change one or two corners, at each track. it would be much more cost efficient, and much better for the sport.

“I know that they have put a lot of engineering effort into Vietnam. But it’s something where we could all collectively think ‘what would be good for F1?’”

Abiteboul revealed that Renault’s brain trust recently examined the Paul Ricard circuit to see what could be done to the track to improve the racing after this year’s French GP was labelled a dull bore.

He said: “To give you an example, because it’s a race that’s obviously important to us, the French GP.

“There was some tough criticism after the race, because it turned into a procession.

“We tried to make it a bit interesting towards the end, and were penalised for that!

“So what we’ve done is some simulations of alternative configurations of how to make it more interesting.

“I would like to see more getting together from the teams in engineering some solutions and some improvements for the tracks.

“If 10 teams were to collaborate on improving tracks I’m sure we could come up with some fantastic results, and we don’t need to wait for 2021 for that. That would be next year already.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Abiteboul: Cheaper to alter tracks than aero rules appeared first on PlanetF1.