Renault: The team will consider its next course of action

Renault F1 Team acknowledges the decision of the Stewards of the Japanese Grand Prix regarding the protest by SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team concerning the legality of Renault F1 Team’s braking system during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Despite the FIA concurring with Renault that the system was entirely legal under the FIA Technical Regulations, it was judged by the stewards that the system was in breach of the FIA Sporting Regulations regarding driver aid. Both Renault cars were disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix and the team loses the nine points scored.

However, considering the subjectivity of the qualification of a system as a driver aid and the variability of the associated penalties in recent cases, Renault F1 Team will consider its next course of action within the timeframe laid out by the FIA.


Renault disqualified, stripped of Japanese Grand Prix points

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg were disqualified from the results of the Japanese Grand Prix after the sport’s governing body ruled they had benefited from an illegal driver aid.

Australian Ricciardo and German Hulkenberg were classified sixth and 10th at the Oct. 13 race in Suzuka but the Racing Point team protested the brake bias system used by the French manufacturer.

The governing FIA said in a statement ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix that Renault had until Thursday to appeal the decision.

Renault scored nine points in Japan, consolidating their fifth place in the constructors’ standings.

It said the stewards had concluded after a telephone hearing that while the brake bias system “used innovative solutions to exploit certain ambiguities”, it did not breach the technical regulations.

The system was, however, not allowed as a driver aid.

“The brake balance adjustment system in question acts as a driver aid, by saving the driver from having to make a number of adjustments during a lap,” it said.


Häkkinen: Ferrari and their drivers punished for mistakes

Double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen has blamed the litany of mistakes made by Ferrari and their drivers during the Japanese Grand Prix for their defeat at the hands of Mercedes last Sunday in Suzuka.

Writing in his Unibet column, Hakkinen observed, “Ferrari will again realise that this race offered them a potential victory because, even though the Mercedes cars were quicker in the race, track position is everything as Sebastian showed.

“If Sebastian had made a good start and Charles has not run wide at Turns 1 and 2 this could have been a very different story.

“When you make mistakes at this level you will be punished, and especially when a team like Mercedes Benz is ready to take advantage of them,” added the Finn.

The weekend in Japan was heavily disrupted by Typhoon Hagibis, which meant qualifying and the race took place on Sunday. Saturday was a total write-off with Friday offering the only track action before race day.

Hakkinen observed, “After Friday practice, it looked like Ferrari did not have the race-pace to beat Mercedes, but once again they delivered in qualifying and dominated the front row of the grid.

“This time pole position went to Vettel, and teammate Charles Leclerc was unable to challenge. I thought the race would be quite different due to the Mercedes cars being slightly easier on their tyres.

“It did not matter, because both Ferrari drivers made mistakes at the start. Sebastian allowed his car to creep forward before the lights went out, then stopped his car at exactly the times the red lights were turned off! The timing could not have been worse, and I was amazed he managed to make some kind of recovery.

“I have sympathy for Sebastian because the Suzuka start is on a downhill slope and, if you are not careful, the car can start to roll. Especially if you are distracted by making steering wheel adjustments or talking on the radio. You need to keep your foot touching the brake until the lights go out.

“It looked like Sebastian’s bad start distracted Charles because he was also slow off the line and then found himself being challenged around the outside of Turns 1 and 2 by Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Honda.

“Charles ran wide and, when the two cars touched, we lost Max’s involvement in the race – he would later retire due to major damage to his floor. We also lost any chance of Charles battling for the win because he damaged his front wing and had to make that early pit stop.

“There has been a lot of comment about Charles and Ferrari not making a pit stop straight away to repair the damage. In my view, he should have made the pit stop immediately because there is no point racing with a badly damaged wing that is dragging on the ground. You will compromise your performance, damage the tyres and become a danger to yourself or others.

“It is so important not to suffer wing failure at high speed. Remember, it was a damaged front wing which failed and caused Roland Ratzenberger’s fatal accident in San Marino in 1994.

“I think we were quite lucky that, when Charles’ front wing endplate finally came off, it only damaged Lewis Hamilton’s car, destroying his right-hand wing mirror. This could have been a lot worse. Once again we were reminded why the Halo concept has been such an important safety initiative.

“Personally I do not blame Charles for trying to continue. He said the car did not feel that bad, and anyway, he cannot see the front wing from inside the cockpit. However the Ferrari management could see it, and it is not surprising that the FIA imposed a penalty after the race,” concluded Häkkinen.


Mercedes won a battle, Ferrari back for war in Japan

Mercedes may have won a battle in Russia, but at the Japanese Grand Prix Ferrari will bring the war again.

Ferrari, more specifically Charles Leclerc, was in a league of his own for most of the race in Sochi, and if it wasn’t for the strategy meltdown he was in with a great shout of a third win in four races, something which would have kept the Scuderia undefeated since returning from the summer break.

In the end though it all fell apart. Sebastian Vettel used the tow from his team-mate to take the lead at the start, before refusing to relinquish P1 back to Leclerc as he had been ordered to do.

What followed was a switcheroo in the pits to get Leclerc ahead, an MGU-K failure for Vettel, a Virtual Safety Car and then a full Safety Car. The end product – Lewis Hamilton heads a Mercedes one-two as Ferrari snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Charles Leclerc confident he can still 'trust' Sebastian Vettel

For Mercedes it was ideal, another big step towards the Constructors’ title, something they could actually wrap up at Suzuka. But Ferrari head to the land of the rising sun knowing that their artillery for the war with Mercedes is growing ever stronger.

With the cornering ability now seemingly there to match the straight-line speed, the Silver Arrows will face another difficult task to tame the prancing horses as the balance of power at the top continues to shift.

Suzuka, like Sochi, is another track where Mercedes have won every race in the turbo-hybrid era, but with its fast straights and sweeping corners, it may take another meltdown to stop Ferrari.

Behind this fascinating battle is Red Bull who sadly have fallen away since the summer.

Max Verstappen, and even his father Jos, are growing increasingly frustrated with the situation, but the team will come to Honda’s home race with the updated power unit raring to go, while a new fuel is expected to be available.

For the Austrian outfit this is an important race then as they look to prove that they haven’t already peaked in 2019.

McLaren continue to lead the way in the midfield battle, and if their rivalry with Renault wasn’t already fierce enough, McLaren’s announcement in Russia that they will ditch Renault for Mercedes power from 2021 will add even more of an edge.

Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire in Sochi due to first-lap damage, while Nico Hulkenberg was left grumpy with P10, believing the R.S.19 had the performance for a far better result.

But it was another double-points finish for McLaren, and a repeat of this situation in Japan could well leave Renault with a deficit which they just can’t overturn.

Toro Rosso and SportPesa Racing Point have made clear gains over the summer break and are hovering dangerously close to Renault.

Sergio Perez’s P7 in Sochi was his third points finish in the last four races, and if team-mate Lance Stroll can find a way to break into the points at Suzuka, then they are in a great place to  mount a challenge for P5 in the Constructors.

Both Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat got stuck in the midfield train in Sochi, but especially for Kvyat, the results haven’t really matched the performance in that STR14, and Honda will hope to power their team to a strong points haul in front of the home crowd.

When it comes to performances, someone who is crying out for a good one is Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn has endured a “nightmare” spell since returning from the summer break, with his jump start and drive-through penalty in Sochi ensuring that the misery continued.

For all the talk of his future, Antonio Giovinazzi is the strongest Alfa Romeo driver right now, and he will be chasing a third points finish in the second half of the season when he arrives at Suzuka.

Over at Haas there is finally a little bit of positivity. Kevin Magnussen scored their first points since Germany with P9 at the Russian GP, so the American outfit will hope that their Australia-hybrid VF-19 can deliver a few more at Suzuka. A few more overtakes like the one above will come in handy.

For Romain Grosjean, he just needs to avoid getting involved in an accident. Perhaps the others will listen to his plea for “more gentlemanly” driving.

George Russell is just about starting to forgive Grosjean for their coming together in Singapore, but for Williams, Suzuka and the rest of 2019 is really now an extended testing session.

The team will bring a new front wing with them this weekend, it’s expected to debut during Friday practice, but if it delivers, then it may stay on the FW42 for the rest of the weekend.

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Typhoon Hagibis watch: Qualifying showdown

Typhoon Hagibis has again been upgraded to a super typhoon with winds around the 160mph mark and is expected to disrupt qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Although the typhoon weakened earlier in the week, it has again intensified and is back at being a category 5 super typhoon.

Currently over the Philippine Sea, it is expected to head towards Japan this weekend with fears that it could make landfall and pass near Tokyo while still at typhoon intensity.

“The storm went from a tropical storm to a violent typhoon in the matter of hours,” meteorologist Robert Speta, an expert on typhoons, told the Japan Times.

“In fact is it was an historic amount of intensification in such a short time.

“This only happens when all the right ingredients are in place.

“Like if you had a fire and instead of throwing gasoline on it to make it bigger you also grabbed some lighter fluid, a bit of oil and a couple of aerosol cans for good measure.”

This isn’t the first time that a typhoon has altered the F1 schedule in Japan with 2004’s qualifying postponed until Sunday due to a typhoon.

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