‘Tape in the diffuser’ ruined Vandoorne’s race

Date published: November 30 2017

Stoffel Vandoorne’s “rally” car, as he put it, was the result of the a large piece of tape that was stuck in the diffuser.

Vandoorne had an unhappy last outing in 2017 when he finished down in 12th place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver described his car as a “rally” car as he struggled with the handling.

McLaren have revealed the cause of the issue.

“We think that Stoffel spent the whole race with a large piece of tape stuck in the diffuser,” Vandoorne’s engineer Tom Stallard told Motorsport.com.

“The kind of super-sticky two-inch tape that touring car teams use to reattach the front bumper. At the end of the race there was a 20cm piece still stuck to the left hand diffuser fence.

“During the race we believe this tape was much larger. We measured a loss of downforce equivalent to opening the DRS, but all around the lap, and without the drag drop.

“Also the loss on the diffuser was symmetric, but at the end the tape was only on the left hand side.

“Around lap 22 the diffuser partially recovered and Stoff’s pace improved. We think until this point it was caught on both sides, but then snapped and was then only on the left.

“I would guess the original piece must have been around 50cm long.”

He added: “Pierre Gasly, who was behind Stoffel in the first stint, said the car was incredibly oversteery, and also that he could see something flapping in the diffuser.

“Given this I think Stoffel did an extraordinary job in not only keeping his car on the track, but also in keeping six cars behind him.”

Wolff plays down Ferrari thrashing in Abu Dhabi

Date published: November 27 2017

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has played down the team’s dominant win in Abu Dhabi as plans for the 2018 season continued at the Yas Marina circuit.

Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were well clear of the rest of the field on Sunday, with the former finishing 19 seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel in third and 45 seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in fourth.

The result seemed to suggest that it is looking rather ominous for the 2018 season, but Wolff won’t be reading too much into the result.

“I’m obviously very pleased with the Abu Dhabi result, but you have to be very careful in interpreting the pace here,” Wolff said.

“This has been the start of the 2018 season, and I am not sure we have seen everything on the cars that will be on the cars next year.

“I just don’t feel like we should be tapping ourselves on the shoulder, about how great we were in the last races.

“I would rather stay sceptical and diligent in leaving no stone unturned, and optimising the deficits of the car.

“But at the end of the day it was the quickest car, it was a capricious diva. And we’d like to keep the diva but get rid of her capricious character.”

‘Discussions’ to change Yas Marina circuit

Date published: November 27 2017

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix track designer Hermann Tilke has said discussions are already underway to make a change to the circuit which could help with overtaking.

The season finale was heavily criticised by drivers and fans alike after a tedious procession took place with a severe lack of race action.

Lewis Hamilton was heard in the cool-down room saying that changes had to be made to the Yas Marina circuit, while Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen said the race was “very boring”.

Designer Tilke was present at the track on Sunday and said that there are plans to change a certain part of the circuit in order to improve the spectacle.

“We have an idea to change one corner,” Tilke told Ted Sky F1.

“It’s a very small change but maybe it has a lot of impact for overtaking.

“We are in discussion.”

Hamilton elaborated a little on his concerns for the track, but believes it can be improved.

“It’s such a beautiful place here in Abu Dhabi, everyone has such an amazing time,” said Hamilton.

“If there’s any way we can improve this track to enable us to have these battles… you’ve got these long straights where you can’t even get close enough to utilise them.

“If there’s some way where we can enable us to be able to remain closer in that third sector, I think this will go up in the rankings of a great circuit.

“I don’t know if they can do it but I know there’s money to do it but I just hope… I have hope for Abu Dhabi to get better.”

Force India still smarting over Hulkenberg’s penalty

Date published: November 27 2017

Force India are incensed over Nico Hulkenberg’s lack of penalty, at least as they see it, in Abu Dhabi, saying he was “rewarded” for passing Sergio Perez off the track.

Battling for seventh place at the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hulkenberg overtook Perez off the track.

Instead of giving the position back, he built up a lead over the Mexican racer that meant when he did come in for his pit stop and to serve his five-second timed penalty, he emerged ahead.

Force India are not impressed.

The team’s technical director Andrew Green said: “It was a deliberate ploy by him [Hulkenberg]. He knew exactly what he was doing.

“He knew to overtake he had to cut the chicane because there was no way he was going to get past down the straights. He knew that if he got ahead he would only get a five-second penalty.

“For me the regulation is just completely flawed.

“The incentive now is to cut the corner, get ahead of the guy, and then go off into the distance and then serve your penalty. It’s just wrong.”

He added: “You would expect a driver to give it back but then when they start to play games like that then we expect the stewards to know what’s going on and take action to penalise the driver.

“There was no penalising of the driver for doing it. He was rewarded for doing it and the incentive is to do it again. It’s just rubbish.”

Ferrari ‘got a fair beating’ in Abu Dhabi

Date published: November 27 2017

Despite receiving a “fair beating” in the season finale in Abu Dhabi and failing to win the titles, Sebastian Vettel is adamant there are positives to be taken from Ferrari’s 2017 campaign.

Although Ferrari were the team to beat at the start of this season, with Vettel winning three of the first six races, the Scuderia’s progress stalled after Monaco.

Vettel managed just two wins in the final 14 races and lost the Drivers’ title to Lewis Hamilton in Mexico.

In many ways Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix summed up Ferrari’s season as Vettel and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen didn’t have any answer to Mercedes’ pace.

They finished third and fourth on the day.

“We saw today that we got a fair beating,” Vettel conceded.

“We couldn’t touch them in qualy and in the race, so obviously there is lots for us to do better.”

He added: “I think we had a strong year overall.

“Obviously we didn’t win, neither the Drivers’ nor the Constructors’, so we can’t be happy with that, because [it was] what we generally set out to achieve.

Overall we were not quick enough. Simple as that.

“In the end you can break it down to a lot of details and this and that but overall the package wasn’t good enough but I think the positives outweigh the disappointments we had here and there over the year.

“You must not forget where we have been 12 months ago and the incredible achievement that’s come together over the winter to set up this year, and throughout the season to keep improving the car, the engine, so a lot of work but overall.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘doesn’t suit’ F1 cars

Date published: November 27 2017

The Yas Marina circuit may be a “great track” but Lewis Hamilton says it “doesn’t suit” Formula 1 cars after failing to overtake Valtteri Bottas on Sunday.

Hamilton spent much of the grand prix chasing his team-mate around the 21-corner Yas Marina circuit.

Every time he would close up to within a second of Bottas’ rear wing, he would then lose ground as he was unable to follow too close or attack.

Hamilton finished the Abu Dhabi GP in second place with Bottas taking the season’s final win.

“You do get a bit of a tow down the straights but once you get to the last sector…” said Hamilton.

“It’s a great, great track but unfortunately it doesn’t suit the cars very well. In the last sector you just can’t follow.

“It’s one of the worst tracks in the sense that you need 1.4s advantage to pass the car in front.

“And we’ve got the same car, we’ve a couple of tenths between us so I was never going to overtake unless he made a big mistake and went off, which he didn’t.

“And even then they have massive run-off areas and you can still keep it on.”

Toro Rosso rue ‘day to forget’

Date published: November 27 2017

Pierre Gasly acknowledges it was a disappointing end to the season for Toro Rosso as they lost sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship to Renault at the final race.

Toro Rosso had been holding down sixth place in the standings but lost ground to Renault in recent races.

As such they lined up on the Abu Dhabi grid just four points ahead of their engine supplier.

But with Toro Rosso lacking pace, neither Pierre Gasly nor Brendon Hartley were able to finish inside the points.

And with Nico Hulkenberg finishing sixth at the Yas Marina circuit it was Renault who emerged victorious.

“I’m really disappointed with the fact of not being able to keep sixth place in the Championship,” conceded Gasly.

“This was the target – we knew it would be tough, but in the end it wasn’t possible.

“We struggled a lot in the race, it’s been a really tough day and I’m not satisfied with I did.

“I pushed too much and did a mistake which cost me a lot of time. It’s frustrating to end the season like this and I feel sorry for the team for not having achieved the target.

“On the positive, these last races with Toro Rosso have been very useful for me to gain plenty of experience and this will definitely help me to start next year on the right foot. I’m already looking forward to 2018.”