Renault ‘motivated’ by Red Bull, McLaren challenge

Date published: February 22 2018

While Cyril Abiteboul acknowledges that taking on Red Bull and McLaren with the same engine is an “extra challenge” for Renault, it is, he says, also extra motivation.

This season Renault will power two of Formula 1’s biggest teams in Red Bull and McLaren while also seeing to their own works outfit.

It promises to be an interesting campaign for Renault as their improvements will be marked against that of McLaren, who last year were ninth in the championship with Honda engines.

But while McLaren are hoping that their swap to Renault will yield podiums, Red Bull want a title challenge, and Renault reckon they are both good benchmarks for this own team.

“Our strategy in Formula One is very clear,” said managing director Abiteboul. “We are in Formula One as a full works team. 

“The marketing value is associated to the works team and that’s clear.

“However, power unit technology is at the heart of what we do and what we offer. 

“Renault has an amazing track record of supplying engines to the best teams and best drivers, securing many successful results with Formula 1 teams, from Williams to Red Bull. 

“It’s natural to continue that history and stay true to that legacy.

“It’s an honour to supply to teams as big as Red Bull and McLaren and is a recognition of the quality of our product and work that they have chosen Renault. 

“Of course, they are very strong competitors and that’s an extra challenge and motivation. They will clearly be our benchmarks for performance this season.”

McLaren planning big Melbourne upgrade

Date published: February 21 2018

The covers have not even come off the MCL33 yet, but McLaren are hoping to introduce a “substantial” upgrade for the season opener in Melbourne next month.

McLaren have dropped a number of teaser trailers which suggest a return to a papaya orange livery is on the cards for 2018.

But while that has been a main focus of their 2018 launch, the Woking team have been working hard to ensure the car is armed with an early upgrade package to take to the Australian Grand Prix.

“We have tried to develop the car as we have done for the last three years,” Prodromou said in relation to the car design. “We’ve tried to develop it in an evolutionary fashion.

“I think you can expect to see something quite similar conceptually for launch – and then in truth we have spent the last two to three months focusing on a race one upgrade.

“That is where the major focus has been and still is – to try to deliver a decent upgrade both aerodynamically and mechanically and try to put our best foot forward for Melbourne.”

“We very much hope and expect that the car will feel from the off quite similar to how it felt at the end of last year and perform quite similarly.

“Hopefully we’ve taken a step forwards and then we will try to do something a bit more substantial for Melbourne.”

McLaren will launch the MCL33 on Friday.

McLaren confirm Petrobras swap

Date published: February 20 2018

McLaren have confirmed rumours that they will swap to Petrobras for 2018 having signed a long-term deal with the Brazilian oil company.

Although McLaren signed up with BP/Castrol in 2017 having ended their 21-year long partnership with ExxonMobil, that has proven to be a very short relationship.

The team, who will race Renault engines this season, confirmed on Tuesday a new deal with Petrobras.

McLaren annnounced the “long-term technology partnership in Formula 1” via Twitter with more details to follow.

Another livery hint from McLaren?

Date published: February 20 2018

As McLaren build-up towards Friday’s launch, the team has released yet another video hinting at a more traditional orange livery.

Pundits and fans are expecting McLaren will race a papaya orange livery in this year’s championship, and the team is doing everything they can to lead them that way.

The latest video released on social media on Monday shows a night security guard making his way through the factory, taking the covers off cars – all of them in orange livery – as he investigates a disturbance.

Former McLaren aerodynamics joins Williams

Date published: February 20 2018

Doug McKiernan, McLaren’s former head of aerodynamics, has joined the Williams team as their new chief engineer, reunited with Paddy Lowe.

McKiernan signed with McLaren back in 1999 as an aerodynamics analyst. He worked his way through the ranks to become chief aerodynamicist, head of aerodynamics and then chief engineer

He left the team in 2015 after a period of gardening leave but will return to Formula 1 this season as he reunites with another former McLaren man, Lowe.

“Since returning to Williams last year, it has become clear that in order help move the team forward we need greater engineering resources,” said Lowe, Williams’ chief technical officer

“We have already started to make excellent progress, with Dirk de Beer our head of aerodynamics leading an invigorated aerodynamics team.

“The addition of Doug to the senior team, supporting our chief Designer Ed Wood and Dirk in particular, will give us the breadth for more focus on technical strategy, and the optimisation of car architecture across design and aerodynamics.”

Brown: F1 politics could take centre stage

Date published: February 19 2018

Zak Brown says it is only a matter of time before F1’s politics hit the headlines as the negotations over the 2021 regulations become heated.

New owners Liberty Media face a trying time over the coming months, and even years, as they look to progress Formula 1 as they see it versus what the teams want.

This has already seen one team threaten to quit with Ferrari’s Sergio Marchionne saying last year that he won’t let the Scuderia continue to play if “we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognisable sandbox.”

And that is likely to be just the start of the headlines.

Although F1 boss Chase Carey has urged the teams to keep all negotations, and their thoughts on it, behind closed doors, Brown reckons it is going to make for some “exciting headlines” in the times to come.

“Chase has repeatedly asked us in meetings if we can keep our negotiations behind the scenes but as you all know media is a powerful influence and in negotiations it can play an important part,” Brown said. 

“We probably won’t achieve this nice and quietly behind the scenes.

“People need to recognise every sport goes through this and recognise it is a politically-charged environment. 

“I think sponsors and people in the sport need to take comfort in the fact that we will get it done as we always have.

“You’d rather have channelling the great news of a new owner who is investing in the sport and we are going to have a new deal in place and they are focusing on the fans. 

“I hope people can focus on that while the noise of negotiations goes on but that will make some exciting headlines in the process.

“We’ve got great ownership moving the sport forward and that is what I hope the fans focus on over the noise of negotiations.”

Mercedes wary of ‘serious’ McLaren, Renault threat

Date published: February 18 2018

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is not taking anything for granted ahead of the new season and named McLaren and Renault among their potential main rivals.

Many are expecting a big improvement from the Woking team now that they have changed engine suppliers from Honda to Renault, while a more sustained challenge from Ferrari and Red Bull is also expected.

And, despite being the four-time double World Champions, there is no room for complacency at the Silver Arrows.

“This is the pinnacle of motor racing you need to respect every team and the top drivers,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.

“We are taking Ferrari, we are taking Red Bull, we are taking McLaren, we are taking Renault seriously. These guys can fight for a championship and some others might be surprising us.

“I want to remain humble and expect competition from all of these teams and if we are able to align the dots like we have done in the last year then we will be winning races and then we will be fighting for championships and if we don’t then we haven’t been good enough.”

Wolff then singled out Ferrari for their progress in the 2017 season and, while he is happy with how Mercedes responded to the threat, he knows that will not be the last they see of them.

“How the car performed on track was exceptional and the step they made over the winter was probably the biggest step of all the teams,” Wolff added about Ferrari.

“I am happy that we kept it together. We have a record of 11 race victories versus the five of Ferrari and the stopwatch never lies.

“Having said that we need to stay both feet on the ground. Ferrari could have won more races. We’re taking them very seriously as a real contender [for 2018] like we do with the other teams.”