Renault will not appeal Japan GP DSQ

Renault have confirmed that they will not be appealing their disqualification from the Japanese Grand Prix for using driver aids.

Daniel Ricciardo’s P6 and Nico Hulkenberg’s P10 at Suzuka were both chalked off following a decision made by the FIA on Wednesday following an initial protest from SportPesa Racing Point.

Renault had until Thursday to appeal the decision but, because they have no new evidence to submit towards a further defence, they have opted not to appeal.

“We regret the Stewards’ decision and, in particular, the severity of the sanction applied,” Renault said in a team statement.

“In our opinion, the penalty is not proportionate to any benefit the drivers derived, especially when used within the context of a system confirmed fully legal and innovative.

“It is also inconsistent with previous sanctions for similar breaches, as acknowledged by the Stewards in their decision, but expressed without further argumentation.

“However, since we have no new evidence to bring other than that already produced to demonstrate the legality of our system, we do not wish to invest further time and effort in a sterile debate in front of the International Court of Appeal concerning the subjective appreciation, and therefore sanction, related to an aid that reduces the driver workload without enhancing the performance of the car.

“We have therefore decided not to appeal the Stewards’ decision.

“Formula One will always be an arena for the relentless search for the slightest possible pportunities for competitive advantage. It is what we have always done and will continue to do, albeit with stronger internal processes before innovative solutions are brought on track.”

Renault have lost nine points as a result of the punishment, pushing them further back in their efforts to clinch the best of the rest spot from McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship.

The disqualification also means Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez have moved up to P6, P7 and P8 respectively in the race classification, Perez’s team-mate Lance Stroll is now classified as P9, and Gasly’s, Daniil Kvyat, as P10.

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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.


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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.


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Never Lift Video: The Week of the Japanese Grand Prix

The Never Lift series returns with a unique fly on the wall journey through our Japanese Grand Prix. Follow our week in Japan including a special day with Honda and their classic RA272, to a day in Tokyo with Red Bull Japan and all the build-up in Suzuka.


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Horner doffs his hat to Norris over Albon remarks

Christian Horner has expressed his appreciation to Lando Norris after the McLaren driver welcomed the stewards’ decision not to punish Alex Albon for their clash at Suzuka.

Red Bull driver Albon made a poor start at Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix and found himself behind both McLarens, but he looked to make up for it early on.

On the fourth lap he attacked Norris and the two cars made contact, forcing the Brit to run off the track.

Instead of criticising his rival, the McLaren driver described Albon’s move as “decent”, adding “fair play to him”.

Red Bull team principal Horner also believes there was nothing wrong with the move, adding that Norris deserves “respect” for not moaning about the incident.

“I thought it was firm but fair,” he told Autosport.com.

“They touched front wheels but it was totally up the inside.

“It was good, hard racing. It was good to see the stewards make the right decision.”

When told that Norris shared that view, Horner replied: “Did he feel the same? I think respect to him.

“Whenever there’s contact it’s inevitable there will be an aggrieved party.

“I think that was good, fair, hard racing and I think that’s what F1’s about.”

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Pit Chat: Inspector Vettel, Detective D-Ric report for duty

Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo show off their detective skills as we look back at the best bits from the Japanese Grand Prix.

But where else can we start other than…

Typhoon Hagibis

There is a slight chance you may have heard of a typhoon affecting the Japanese Grand Prix over the weekend. If you’re looking for someone to blame, look no further…

Whilst poor Pierre was getting a hard time, Max Verstappen took the opportunity to get some of the lads together for some FIFA.

Social post of the weekend? We think so…

The rare Saturday off also brought us Lando Norris throwing himself down a bowling alley…

Daniel Ricciardo singing to himself…

And a McLaren engineer who really should know better…

I Spy

Some of the drivers aren’t just Formula 1 drivers, you know? Oh no. They are international men of mystery, too.

Valtteri Bottas v437.0 (we’ve lost count) was revealed.

Sebastian Vettel did his usual inspecting of the Mercedes car, seemingly using his foot as a scale to weigh their front wing. He is just going to end up plonking himself in the car one of these days!

Sebastian Vettel

And doing some detective work was the one and only Daniel Ricciardo…

Any other business

Also in Japan, Vettel and Hamilton came to blows in the paddock…

Mercedes showed some self-awareness with this excellent tweet…

And Lando Norris responded in the most Lando Norris way possible after getting barged off the track by Alex Albon.

Last word

We will end on a rather poignant image after Mercedes ensured that this season will be the sixth consecutive campaign with them as double World Champions.

Sure, there were celebrations but one great man’s presence was certainly missed.

Danke Niki.

Niki Lauda

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Japan felt like a thank you win for Bottas

Valtteri Bottas was the man to lead Mercedes over the line in Japan, and the way it all unfolded felt like a well deserved thank you.

On paper it looked a simple win for Bottas who took the chequered flag 13 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but it was Mercedes who sacrificed their star player to make that result happen.

Mercedes said early in the race that Lewis Hamilton was on a one-stop, Bottas on a two –  “You have to push, you’re on a two-stop, Lewis is on a one-stop,” they told the Finn.

As it turned out there was little to choose between these strategies at Suzuka, so it seemed like the way to go was to maintain track position.

The Silver Arrows then made a surprise call, switching their five-time World Champion Hamilton onto a two-stop which he sure wasn’t impressed with.

“Deg looks very high, so one stop will be a struggle,” Hamilton was told, but he came back at Mercedes and later said that the tyres felt fine.

Bottas would stop again and commit to the two-stop strategy, putting him back out on track eight seconds behind his team-mate.

At this stage Bottas was realising the situation – he would have to pass Hamilton on track, but most likely Mercedes would tell him to hold station if he got anywhere close.

But, this didn’t happen. Mercedes told Bottas that “Lewis still has to stop”. Bottas countered “are you sure Lewis will stop?”. “He will” was the emphatic reply.

Davide Valsecchi believes Mercedes looked back to their dominant ways in Friday practice at the Japanese GP.

Now it’s at times like this that Ferrari would jump into the minds of most Formula 1 fans. This sounded a Ferrari-style tactic which required co-operation and respect from team-mates to pull off, so in other words, a disaster waiting to happen. Even Vettel himself said he didn’t expect Hamilton to stop.

“I was surprised to be honest when they pitted, I expected him to stay out and try the one-stop,” said the German.

But there was no refusal, though very upset with the situation, Hamilton pitted and fell from first to third, heavily questioning Mercedes’ strategy after the race.

Before that though Hamilton had one major task left to complete, to pass Vettel and restore the Mercedes one-two, but he was unsuccessful.

It was a significant call from the Silver Arrows, with Hamilton stuck behind Vettel they now needed that bonus point for fastest lap to secure the Constructors’ Championship and ensure a record sixth title-double would come their way.

Hamilton was able to deliver on that and Mercedes confirmed themselves as the greatest Formula 1 outfit of all time, but there is a reason why their treatment of Bottas was the real talking point.

Practically since he joined the team in 2017 Bottas has carried the tag of Hamilton’s “wingman” around with him. Discounting famous cases like Russia 2018 where he gave up his race win for Hamilton, Bottas has had to sacrifice a lot for his team-mate in 2019 as well.

Singapore was the darkest moment arguably for Bottas who was actually told to lap significantly slower than Hamilton so the Brit could do his in-lap and come out of the pits ahead, and this came at a time when Mercedes already looked well out of the running for victory.

So, the win in Japan was a thank you for Bottas. Cheers mate for everything you do for this team and how you put your ambitions aside for the common goal.

Hamilton is seen as the clear No.1 driver, quite obvious when he is now close to securing his fifth title in six years, but without Bottas Mercedes wouldn’t have enjoyed that continued dominance in the Constructors’ Championship beyond the Hamilton/Nico Rosberg days.

So, while Hamilton may be upset that for once he got the short end of the stick, he must understand that with the titles now in the bag for 2019, it was time for Mercedes to say thank you Valtteri!

Jamie Woodhouse

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Renault equipment impounded by FIA

The FIA have seized the steering wheels and standard Electronic Control Units from both Renault cars following a SportPesa Racing Point protest.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Japanese Grand Prix it was announced that SportPesa Racing Point had lodged a protest against Renault in relation to “an alleged pre-set lap distance-dependent brake bias adjustment system” on both cars.

The stewards have now heard from representatives of both teams and a representative from the FIA’s Technical Department, concluding that the protest did hit the requirements of the FIA’s International Sporting Code.

Motorsportweek.com report that as part of the investigation the FIA have now seized the standard Electronic Control Units and steering wheels from Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg’s R.S.19’s “in preparation for conducting a detailed analysis of those pieces.”

A written report of the analysis is expected to be provided to the stewards by Wednesday, after this a meeting will be held for the stewards to respond to the points raised in the protest.

Renault say they “intend to use this recess to prepare an equally detailed case to rigorously defend its position,” after SportPesa Racing Point submitted a 12-page document against them.

Ricciardo was classified P6 at the Japanese Grand Prix, while Hulkenberg also picked up a point with P10.

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Hamilton criticises Mercedes for strategy call

Lewis Hamilton is unhappy with his team for putting him on a two-stop strategy, saying he feels he could have won the race on a one-stopper.

Mercedes opted to put both of their drivers on two-stop strategies and kept Hamilton out for longer on his first stint, hoping that he could pass Sebastian Vettel on fresher tyres in the closing stages of the race.

The Brit was vocal on the radio with his complaints about the strategy during the race, and afterwards said he thinks he could’ve made a one-stop work with better guidance from the team.

“With better guidance, I think I probably could have,” said Hamilton when asked by Crash.net if he felt a one-stop could have worked.

“They said when they put the tyre on they would be going to a two-stop because the degradation is higher.

“The direction I was given in terms of having to close the gap to Seb, every time I was having to close this gap, I was using the tyres up a lot.”

He ended up leading the race with 10 laps to go, and eventual race winner Valtteri Bottas was worried that he’d stay out, but Hamilton says there’s no chance his tyres would have lasted.

“There was no way I was going to make it. Maybe if I had from the beginning said to them just eke it out, just see if you can manage it, I could have driven differently to help them to the end [on a one-stop strategy].

“Naturally we will go and sit and talk to the engineers and strategists. I think today could have been better. There have been multiple scenarios during the year where that has been the case but nevertheless Valtteri did a good job.

“I would like to have driven differently in that second stint to stretch it out as far as we could. Naturally, while I was never going to stay out I thought about staying out but by that time I had already pushed so much to close the gap to Seb.

“We should have at least got a 1-2 today I think but strategy wasn’t optimum.”

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Binotto admits FIA forced Ferrari to pit Leclerc

Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto confirmed that the FIA did force the team to pit Charles Leclerc who had a damaged front wing in Japan.

The Monegasque driver made contact with Max Verstappen on the opening lap, causing damage to Leclerc’s front wing endplate, while Verstappen was sent into a spin before retiring later in the race.

Leclerc was given a five-second time penalty for causing the collision, but was also handed a ten-second time penalty on top of that for not pitting to change the wing until Lap 4.

Ferrari were also fined €25,000 for not bringing Leclerc in swiftly enough for the FIA’s liking after they had made the order, and Binotto confirmed that his team had been told by the FIA that they must call Leclerc in.

“The FIA called us, forcing us to stop Leclerc because [the front wing] had lost too many pieces,” Binotto told Sky Sports in Italy.

“We tried to insist that he could stay out but they forced us because Charles had already lost the pieces of the car.”

Valtteri Bottas would win the Japanese Grand Prix comfortably, while Sebastian Vettel held off Lewis Hamilton for P2, but Binotto thought victory was possible for Ferrari.

“We could have won today,” he stressed.

“Bottas got off to a good start, now, the hypothesis I made myself is that even though our tyres were degrading more than the Mercedes, if we would have stayed ahead of them, even with the tyre issue, we probably would have won the race.

“From the first laps we knew that it would be a race on two stops, going for one was impossible for all teams because the tyres here don’t resist that long, so we knew they would stop twice and we thought that Vettel could finish second because we are fast.

“Hamilton would have struggled to pass us on used tyres. But we have to say that Vettel was very good in keeping Hamilton behind. Vettel did a great race.”

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