Force India opts not to run old car in Jerez

Force India has confirmed that it will skip the Jerez test completely, and focus instead on the second test of the season in Barcelona.

The team revealed some time ago that the new VJM08 would not be ready for Jerez, but it had been expected that the old VJM07 would be used. However the car would have run a 2014 power unit and it was decided that there would be little to gain by doing the test.

The team said on Twitter: “We have chosen not to run the old (2014) car in Jerez. The learning opportunities would have been limited so the focus is now on Barcelona.”

Force India does of course use a Mercedes gearbox as well as the power unit, so a significant chunk of the new car will be tested by the works team in Jerez.

With Force India, Caterham and Marussia all absent only eight teams will be in Jerez.

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Williams confirms Lynn as development driver

GP3 champion Alex Lynn has joined Williams as the team’s development driver, in addition to his already announced GP2 programme with DAMS.

He has been in the frame since the end of last season, when he lost out to Carlos Sainz for the second Toro Rosso drive. With both RBR and STR likely to be full up for the foreseeable future he has now severed all ties with Red Bull, as there was not much point in staying on.

The team says that his primary role “will be using the team’s simulation tools to help with the ongoing development of the Williams Mercedes FW37 and assisting the race engineers in setting up the car for each Grand Prix.” He will also do a day of testing at the Barcelona test, after the Spanish GP.

Claire Williams said: “Williams has a strong track record in bringing young talent though the ranks and our Development Driver position is designed to fully immerse new recruits into the inner workings of a Formula One team. As a British team we are always on the lookout for emerging home-grown talent and Alex has caught our eye with his impressive performances in GP3. He has been chosen on merit and we are confident that alongside Felipe, Valtteri and Susie, Alex will help play an important role in making sure that the FW37 shows continuous improvement over the course of the 2015 season.”

“Over the past year the team has made huge strides forward and it’s clear to see their determination to fight for more success in the future,” said Lynn. “I hope that with a strong year in GP2, while also helping to develop the F1 car throughout this season, I can follow in the footsteps of Valtteri Bottas who joined the Williams team in exactly the same Development Driver role. Through hard work and determination, he has gone from winning the GP3 title to earning his place as a Williams F1 race driver.

“Working with people like Sir Frank Williams and Pat Symonds is an incredible opportunity for me. There is so much experience here at Williams and I hope to be able to use the knowledge gained from these people to further develop my skills as a racing driver and respected member of this team. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming from the outset, we have hit the ground running and I am very excited about the challenges this role offers – particularly my on track activities driving the FW37 in a few months time.”


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White expects “significant performance step” by Renault

The 2014 season was a difficult one for Renault Sport and its chief technical officer Rob White, but the company has made big changes for this season both in terms of the organisation and the V6 power unit and its associated systems. In a Q&A provided by Renault White explained what has been changed within the constraints of the FIA’s token system.

Q: What are the challenges going into the second year of the power units?

“Year two of a new engine is always difficult. The 2015 power unit project was started six months before the 2014 units took to the track, ie before we had any significant experience of the technology. Then we also need to consider the issues arising during the season. It creates a need to be both forward thinking and reactive. Splitting resources between projects is a delicate balancing act, in the short, mid and long term. While certain decisions can be taken upstream, a number of design decisions were taken quite late in the day, in order to benefit from the experience of the 2014 power unit. The result is a power unit that is very different to its predecessor.”

Q: What are the principal changes to the Renault Energy F1 for the 2015 season?

“We have made some fundamental changes to gain performance and reliability. We have upgraded every system and subsystem, with items that will give the most performance prioritised. The principal changes involve the internal combustion engine, turbocharger and battery. The ICE will have a new combustion chamber, exhaust system concept and variable trumpets, as permitted by the 2015 regulations. The compressor is more efficient, while the energy recovery systems are able to deal with more severe usage. The 2014 unit was already well placed in its centre of gravity, however we have tidied up the packaging to give greater ease of integration into the chassis. Additionally many systems and functions have been rationalised and simplified to further ease the task. In short, there are very few carry over pieces between the 2014 and 2015 power units.”

Q: This year the power unit is broken down into ‘tokens’. How does this system work?

“This year there are regulatory limits to do with ‘token’ spend that determine the number of changes we can make. The power unit is divided into sections and then subassemblies associated to it. The total number of tokens within the power unit is equal to 66. Five out of the 66 tokens are not available for change as they are frozen. An engine manufacturer is able to select 32 token areas, or 48% of the engine, which he would like to change. As the technology gets more mature next year and beyond there will be fewer and fewer tokens available to spend. Clearly the juggling act we need to perform is which areas of the power unit are the most worthwhile to attack for performance reasons.”

Q: How has Renault decided to allocate its tokens?

“We have used the majority of the tokens for the first race and our use of tokens during the course of the season will be relatively modest. It then becomes a matter of strategy about when you introduce the remaining tokens; whether to introduce at the start of the season when the technology is relatively immature but could give greater relative performance, or later in the season when the part has had more testing miles but the impact on performance will be potentially less. We can still make changes for reliability under the sporting regulations. We have therefore prioritised token spend to make as much headway as possible with performance.”

Q: What are your aims for 2015?

“First and foremost we need to run reliably, be quick and closer to front. Our honest expectation is that we will make a decent improvement but it is difficult to quantify the gain relative to our competitors who will also progress. What we can say is that we are on course to make a significant performance step and resolve the principal reliability weaknesses by the time we get to the first race.”

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Renault Sport confident that reorganisation will pay off

Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul is confident that a restructuring of the organisation will pay dividends in 2015.

After a difficult debut with the V6 turbo – which nevertheless saw three victories for Daniel Ricciardo – Renault will supply only Red Bull and Toro Rosso this year, unless Caterham is able to survive in some form.

“F1 constantly moves forward at a very fast rate,” said Abiteboul. “The sport evolves, technology evolves and the competition never sleeps so Viry needs to evolve at the same rate. Viry needed a refresh. We did not suffer from a lack of resources or finances in 2014, it was simply that the resources were not joined up in time or used to their optimum.

“In the short gap between seasons we have therefore taken a number of steps forward. First and foremost we have implemented a new organisational structure. There are a number of changes in this new structure. I’ll underline three of them to indicate where the focus will be in 2015.

“This new structure will emphasise the need for perpetual change and adaptation within Renault Sport F1. This will be achieved through two new streams led by Rob White and Jean-Paul Gousset. As Chief Technical Officer, Rob will use his in-depth knowledge of Renault Sport F1 to set the strategy and road map for the acquisition, development and utilisation of technical skills within the company. Naturally this will always be with a close eye on our F1 project.

“In parallel, F1 performance is driven by human performance. Jean-Paul, who was previously head of production, is now appointed as Organization Performance Officer, and becomes responsible for organisational matters, procedures and protocols, from the small details to the large changes that together create and harness the racing spirit we want to see in Viry-Châtillon.

“Another substantial change is the creation of the Development Department, headed by Naoki Tokunaga. In addition to overseeing the Engineering Department, which is still managed by Jean-Philippe Mercier, Naoki will be directly responsible for Performance and Reliability Groups. These two groups are tasked with clear responsibilities as their name suggests, and allow us to get closer to the organisational model of F1 teams nowadays. This should build natural bridges and synergies with our customers.

“The last noticeable change is that Rémi Taffin will now oversee all track and factory operations, including assembly and dynos, in addition to continuing to look after the track operations. Regrouping all operations under one person aims to bring the excellent spirit of the track to the factory, simplifies our lines of communications, allows us to simplifies our lines of communications, allowing us to respond to changes or needs more quickly and ensure overall quality control and cost efficiency towards our internal and external customers.

“It is still very early to see the direct effects but all the changes are made for long term gain. We should start to see the full impact in development by the mid-season with greater flexibility, dynamism and efficiency across all our operations.”

Abiteboul remains confident that Renault can do better than the three victories achieved with Red Bull last season.

“We knew what we had to do over the winter and we know what we have achieved. We believe we have made a very big step in performance and will be more reliable. We do not know where the others will be: we may not have erased all the gaps, but we are confident that we have gone a long way to making up the deficit of last season.

“Our objective is to close the gap as much as possible and give Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso a more competitive car on most circuits, independently of their characteristics and sensitivities.”

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First look at the new Lotus E23 – and its conventional nose

The Lotus looks a lot neater at the front than its predecessor

The Lotus looks a lot neater at the front than its predecessor

Lotus has released the first images of the new E23, the first Enstone car to be powered by Mercedes.

The most notable visible aspect of the car is its conventional nose, the first to be seen on a 2015 car.

“Improvements within our Design, Aero and Simulation departments have all contributed to the development of a car which is a huge step forward,” said team CEO Matthew Carter. “As a team we are confident that the new car coupled with additions to the Race team will enable a huge leap forward and we are full of optimism going into the new season. It is time to put the disappointment of last season behind us and benefit from 12 months of hard work; we are ready to return to our rightful place at the pinnacle of the sport.”

“The E23 Hybrid represents a massive step forward for us,” said technical director Nick Chester. “It’s no secret that we struggled with last year’s car, so we’ve targeted every area that caused us an issue. We’ve made strong progress in the wind tunnel as well as in areas such as packaging and cooling. We expect the E23 to perform far, far better than its predecessor. In terms of what’s new, obviously a massive change for us is a new Power Unit supplier.

“We made this change as it looked and looks to be the one area of the car which could bring us the greatest performance gain. It’s not just performance, but reliability and driveability as well as packaging and cooling too. The E22 did deliver good figures in the wind tunnel, even if it was difficult to unlock its potential, so we’ve paid more attention to making the characteristics of the car more adaptable. In terms of the suspension, we were delivered something of a blow last year when the front-rear interconnected suspension was outlawed mid-season.

“The E23’s suspension design is specific to the updated regulations so we’re not trying to update a system originally intended to work a different way. We learnt a lot in many areas of the car over the course of 2014 so there are many lessons which have been applied. We know we’ve made a big step. We won’t know how our car will fare in relative terms until we’re out in action at a Grand Prix, but we certainly expect to be much more competitive than last year.”

Lotus E23 c (2)

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“Je regrette” says Streiff as he apologises to Todt

Philippe Streiff did not waste time in apologising

Philippe Streiff did not waste time in apologising

Philippe Steiff has acted quickly to fend off legal action from the FIA, Jean Todt and Gerard Saillant by apologising for comments he made about them in a web TV interview.

The former F1 driver had in essence questioned both the findings and composition of the FIA Accident Panel that investigated the Jules Bianchi accident.

After legal action was promised by the FIA yesterday he used Facebook to make an apology.

He said: “I let myself get carried away in front of the camera; the interview took a long time – too long – and I am aware that I made insulting and defamatory comments about Jean Todt, Gérard Saillant and the FIA, which I sincerely regret.

“I refute and take back these accusations, which are unfounded, and ask the press to remove them from their media.

“Lastly, I ask Jean Todt and Gérard Saillant, who are well aware of my health problems, to excuse me. I regret having said things about them that are totally out of line with the consideration that they both deserve.”


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Ferrari boss wants F1 cars to sound like “heavy metal band”

Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has backed Niki Lauda’s call for a more exciting F1 regulations to be introduced in 2017.

Arrivabene, whose background is in marketing, stressed that it is important for the sport to entertain the public.

“I’ve read what our friend Niki has to say. He’s top of the class, whereas I’m sitting about four desks further back,” he told the Ferrari website. “I share Niki’s view that Formula 1 needs to be more spectacular and I believe that the risk he evokes of the sport losing fans is something that has unfortunately already happened.

“By 2017, I too would like to see cars that win over the fans, with cars that they can get closer to and that are aesthetically more appealing, maybe even producing a noise that gets your hair standing on end, like that produced by a heavy metal band. That was what it was like back in the day when Niki was racing and I was an enthusiastic fan, clutching my general admission ticket.”

Arrivabene says that major changes are required: “I don’t think a simple evolution is enough in this case. Instead, a real revolution is called for, with significant and radical changes. By that I mean more power, higher speeds, not necessarily involving the use of more fuel, but definitely applying a cost reduction to those components that are of little interest to the general public.

“Being closer to the people actually involves taking F1 to the people, possibly holding the Thursday driver press conferences and team presentations of a Grand Prix weekend, outside the circuit in a public area. That way, the cities that host the races could provide the arena for a presentation of the drivers and cars, in a properly managed event.

“I have long felt that the real competition to F1 today, in the sense of it being a show, comes from a variety of forms of entertainment, not least from the internet, including racing video games. It is up to us to provide something better and to download a new format for Formula 1 as soon as possible. How likely are we to do it? I know it wouldn’t be the usual way of going about things, but a global survey on the internet and via the TV companies would give us a real idea of what people want. In fact, even in this area of sport as entertainment, we should follow the trend of demand driving what’s on offer.”


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