Ferrari, Renault pass initial 2022 crash tests

Ferrari and Renault are reported to have already passed initial front crash tests for their 2022 Formula 1 entries.

Work is, of course, taking place on 2021 cars and Ferrari are, according to the Italian version of Motorsport.com, also still developing this season’s SF1000 and beginning to look at their 2022 edition when the F1 regulations significantly change.

The Scuderia have “already passed the FIA frontal crash test and the nose of the car has obtained the homologation of the governing body”, says the report.

The same applies to Renault, who will be rebranded as Alpine next year when Fernando Alonso makes his return to Formula 1.

Although teams cannot yet work on aerodynamics for 2022, they can make progress on the structural parts of the car.

Ferrari have said that realistically it will be 2022 before they can again challenge for a World Championship or even race victories in normal circumstances.

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But at least they will have a new engine for 2021, with a comparative lack of power having been one of the major issues in their fall down the pecking order this season – the Italian giants sit sixth of 10 in the constructors’ World Championship standings.

In terms of recent developments, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto revealed that an upgrade introduced for the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring had yielded minor progress but nevertheless a “positive” one after Charles Leclerc qualified in P4.

“I think we were not expecting a lot of difference,” said Binotto. “It was a small upgrade and it was completing a package we started introducing in Russia.

“The positive is that it was correlating well with what we saw in the wind tunnel and back in the factory. And that somehow means we are moving the car in the right direction.

“There will be some more further upgrades during the remainder of the season, which will be as well important.

“And for us, what’s key is the team developing the car, and more important, making sure the direction we are taking the car is the right one.”

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Renault will remain in F1 despite $2b cuts

Renault’s interim CEO Clotilde Delbos has confirmed the company’s intention to remain in Formula 1 despite facing massive job cuts.

Renault announced on Friday its plans to reduce fixed costs by more than 2 billion euros over the next three years.

The transformation plan will see the company simplify processes, reduce the diversity of components within vehicles and adjust industrial capacities.

Some 15,000 jobs are expected to be lost in the process.

Renault said it will cut its global production from four million vehicles in 2019 to 3.3m by 2024. Closures could include a foundry in Brittany and a factory in northern France.

“In a context of uncertainty and complexity, this project is vital to guarantee a solid and sustainable performance, with customer satisfaction as a priority,” said Delbos.

“By capitalisng on our many assets such as the electric vehicle, by capitalising on the resources and technologies of Groupe Renault and the Alliance, and by reducing the complexity of development and production of our vehicles, we want to generate economies of scale to restore our overall profitability and ensure our development in France and internationally.

“This project will enable us to look to the future with confidence.”

Despite the cuts, Renault will continue in Formula 1 putting an end to rumours that the company is on its way out.

Delbos confirmed the company’s intention to remain in the sport.

According to the 52-year-old, Formula 1’s reduced budget cap of just $145 million played a role in Renault’s decision to remain in Formula 1.

“We confirm that we intend to stay in Formula One,” she said.

“The new regulations, new cap in term of investments, because we had less investment than some of our competitors who are spending a lot of money, so F1, we are here, and we stay in Formula One.”

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Renault €2 billion cost-cutting plan spares F1 team

Carmaker Renault is set to slash 14,600 jobs as part of a massive €2bn cost-cutting plan that has fortunately spared the group’s Formula 1 operations.

Amid an economic crisis sparked by the global coronavirus pandemic, automotive manufacturers have been severely impacted by the downturn.

Renault, which was already experiencing a fall in demand before the COVID-19 crisis, will slash jobs across all its operations, cut production numbers and repurpose plants as it undergoes one of the deepest restructuring programs in its history.

The company, which is in the process of receiving a €5bln loan guarantee from the French government, will also stop selling combustion engine cars in China, with Dongfeng buying out its joint-venture partner.

However, amid the drastic measures, Renault interim CEO Clotilde Delbos said the manufacturer will retain its works involvement in Formula 1, buoyed by the sport’s recent regulation changes, including the introduction next year of a $145m budget cap.

“F1 we said publicly, and we confirm that we intend to stay in F1,” said Delbos, speaking on a conference call with analysts on Friday.

“Actually the news about new regulations, new cap, in terms of investment is very good for us, because we had less investment in this area compared to some of our competitors which were spending a lot of money.

“So, F1 we are here, and we stay in Formula 1.”

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Abiteboul admits 2021 regulations 'go in Renault's direction'

Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul believes the French manufacturer is the team on the grid that could benefit the most from Formula 1’s 2021 regulation overhaul.

The technical and commercial changes that shall be introduced from next year will hopefully steer the sport into a new era, in which a more equitable sporting and financial playing field among competitors will emerge.

Renault’s five-year plan, initiated in 2016, to chase down F1’s front-runners and challenge for the title in 2021 now appears to lag by a couple of years.

The French squad’s performance has stagnated in the past few seasons, with Renault even ceding its spot as best of the rest to engine customer McLaren.

But Abiteboul is confident his team faces a massive opportunity ahead, not only to bridge the gap to its rivals but also to consolidate its future in the sport at a time of disruption for the automotive manufacturer’s top brass.

“I think we are the main beneficiary of the 2021 deal and set of regulations,” he told Motorsport.com.

“I can’t say that they’ve been engineered for us, but for sure it goes in our direction.”

However, there’s an axe hanging over Enstone in the form of an internal strategic review currently conducted by Renault interim management, the potential outcome of which could annihilate the F1 team’s future.

“From my perspective everything that we’ve built we’ve done it with 2021 in mind, and everyone is aware of that, including at Renault corporate,” insisted a confident Abiteboul.

“The figures speak for themselves. Having said that, until a decision is made the decision is not made.”

However, Renault’s C-suite will take its time to assess the pros and cons of remaining in F1, as implied by the sport’s next Concorde agreement, the crucial legal document that governs the teams’ financial relationship with F1.

“I think it’s a parallel stream,” explained Abiteboul.

“On one side there is what the team is committed to do, with the FIA, with FOM. There is lots of discussion going on about the documentation itself.

“We’ve seen hundreds of pages of contract, and it takes a while.

“There’s also the stream having to keep on moving and improving and progressing in terms of our own performance in parallel.

“Renault is indeed making its own strategy and plans. We still have a management in interim, so we are indeed in contact on a regular basis with that management.

“The two will happen in parallel, and I hope will develop in a nice way. In my opinion it’s more for Q1/Q2.”

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Renault F1 Team unveils launch date for R.S.20

The Renault F1 Team has confirmed that it will unveil its 2020 contender – the R.S.20 – on February 12th at an event organized in Paris.

The French outfit announced its season launch event on social media, with the tagline “Shared Passion. One Vision”.

Renault underwent a few significant changes in the past months, tweaking its driver line-up by replacing Nico Hulkenberg with Esteban Ocon, while Daniel Ricciardo remains with the team for a second season.

But the outfit’s technical department was also restructured, with Enstone’s technical director Nick Chester departing the team after 19 years, and former McLaren man Pat Fry joining Renault, a nomination that followed the hiring of former Williams engineer Dirk de Beer as Renault’s head of aerodynamics.

Renault under-performed its expectations last season, failing to inch closer to the sport’s Mercedes-Ferrari-Red Bull trio of front-runners and outscored in the championship by engine customer McLaren.

Renault is the fourth team after Ferrari, McLaren and AlphaTauri to announce its presentation date. You can find the full updated schedule of February’s launch events here.

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Renault announce 2020 car launch date

Renault have confirmed that they will launch their 2020 challenger on Wednesday 12 February.

The French manufacturer will hope to bounce back this year after slipping a place to P5 in the 2019 Constructors’ standings behind customer team McLaren.

They willl of course go into the 2020 campaign armed with the new driver line-up of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon.

Ricciardo joined the team for the start of last season, leaving Red Bull behind, while Ocon will move away from his development role with Mercedes to take the second Renault seat vacated by Nico Hulkenberg.

The event will take place at L’Atelier Renault in France’s capital Paris – Ricciardo and Ocon will be there to officially unveil the 2020 car.

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Red Mist: Who will replace Seb when he leaves Ferrari?

One of the biggest Formula 1 talking points, until the subject will be resolved later this year, will be the feud for the Ferrari number one seat, or in other words who Sebastian Vettel’s place at the Scuderia.

The quadruple F1 World Champion’s contract with Maranello expires at the end of the year following what has been a pretty barren Prancing Horse stint so far — there’s still a season of that to run, remember…

Anyway, there’s been more than enough flatulence about Lewis Hamilton’s Ferrari future — Italian motorsport bible Autosprint, after all, ran a doctored image of Lewis in a red Ferrari suit to taunt the Tifosi its cover in September 2018 already and there was a literal shitstorm on the subject a few weeks ago, once Hamilton had taken his latest title and surprisingly shortly after we regurgitated the matter again some months ago.

The facts are simple — both Seb and Lewis are out of contract as this current F1 era lapses after this season.

Speculation becomes complicated; Vettel is clearly not the happiest chappie following young Carlito Leclerc’s arrival at Maranello. Unlike with the previous German maestro at Maranello, the Monegasque lad is allowed to beat Vettel, as he can, has and will again, rather than Ferrari having a gorilla in its second car contracted not to beat the number one in Schumi’s superteam years.

So, should he not stop? Is Vettel likely to sail into the twilight of his career having to deal mano-a-mano with superbly talented young upstart? Would you…?

Then the story of Mercedes — the one about the racing team being sold — plausibly as the next acquisition to satisfy Roger Penske’s voracious recent racing appetite — with Merc stepping back to be just an engine supplier – will allegedly see Lewis free to go and allegedly let Toto Wolff follow him to #4 Via Abetone Inferiore.

Both of which juggernauts would suit Maranello just fine — but can Lewis and Toto ever be able to pull off a “Jean Todt” at polemic-infused Ferrari, that is. But evidence suggests that ‘casino’ was a negotiating ploy of sorts and a highly unlikely scenario.

However, I will argue — there’s a dark horse — ready to repeat history.

According to recent speculation in the German press, the honeymoon may be over at Renault. Asked about Daniel Ricciardo’s commitment to the Regie, team boss Cyril Abiteboul said cryptically, “I think my answer would be different today than it was a few weeks or months ago…”

Is that smoke we see there?

Danny’s (Italian roots etc) has also long been tipped to dress in Red sooner or later and should this latest speculation prove to have legs, we would see Dan oust former Red Bull teammate Vettel, this time, from Ferrari.

Thus the possible answers to the question posed in the title are twofold:

  1. Seb stays and things between the drivers remain as they are or get worse because it is doubtful they will improve unless he unconditionally he may have to play the number two role if Carlito keeps betaing him;
  2. Dan arrives with his big smile, chills things up at Maranello and pushes Carlito harder than he has been pushed before without the aggro they are going through now with their current explosive pairing.

No, it is not a given that Seb will leave Ferrari at the end of this season, but the above also applies for when he does leave which should be well before his 22-year-old teammate’s deal ends in 2024.

Step up the Honey Badger!

So over to you: Who will race in Red alongside Leclerc next year?


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Rise to best of the rest ‘flattered’ Renault

Renault boss, Cyril Abiteboul, feels the team’s rise to P4 since returning to Formula 1 left them in a situation that was “a bit flattering”.

Renault’s rise to best of the rest came in 2018 and there was an expectation, especially with Daniel Ricciardo joining from Red Bull, that the team could then focus on closing in on the top three in 2019.

However, they slipped back down the rankings to P5 and the drop would have hurt even more having been leapfrogged by their engine customers McLaren in the process.

Abiteboul believes that initial rise flattered Renault, but all is not lost after a weaker 2019 as it has shown him and everyone else what the remaining weaknesses are to left to address.

“The problems that we saw were already there from the previous year,” Abiteboul told Autosport.

“I think the only thing is that they were maybe not so visible because [2018] was a progression from the year before.

“We had gone from P9 to P6 to P4 and I think it was a bit flattering.

“I think we needed a year like this one to see the leftover weaknesses of the team, because some of them actually have been here since the Lotus days and have not been dealt with with enough care and attention.

“That’s why it makes me say that it was not a year to write off.

“I think that we would never be able to go further if we had not had the difficulty, and also the reactions that come with it.”

Abiteboul said that the arrival of Ricciardo left Renault in a “naked” state with “nothing to hide” in the 2019 season.

“For me, 2019 was a year where we became naked with nothing to hide,” Abiteboul added.

“With great drivers and a much better engine, there was nowhere to hide. But you know, that’s F1. You can’t hide in F1.

“And because we were not hiding, we’ve been able to again to see what action we have to take.”

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Ricciardo: 2021 driver market could cause ‘real shake-up’

Daniel Ricciardo is predicting a “real shake-up” in Formula 1 with a whole host of drivers on deals that currently expire at the end of the 2020 season.

The major overhaul coming Formula 1’s way in 2021 has created a reluctance from drivers to commit to long-term deals when they are effectively heading into the unknown next year.

Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon and most recently Max Verstappen, are currently the only drivers who have contracts in place beyond the end of the 2020 season, with the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo all potentially on the market.

That could create a ‘silly season’ for the ages and Ricciardo thinks a big driver shuffle could be in the pipeline over the next 12 months.

“I haven’t committed any more than the end of next year,” Ricciardo told Australia’s Sunday Times.

“That’s not anything personal, it’s just we haven’t had any discussion about beyond 2020 yet. It’s still early days.

“I would love for 2020 to work out and I stay, that’s the easiest and happiest scenario, I wish for that.

“But as far as 2021 goes and that musical chairs, so to speak, I think F1 could get a real shake-up.

“Pretty much every driver is out of contract so from a fan perspective I think that is going to be pretty exciting to see how it all shapes out.”

Ricciardo’s first season with Renault did not particularly go according to plan, with the Aussie finishing P9 in the Drivers’ World Championship.

As he begins his second season with the Enstone team in 2020, Ricciardo has vowed to put his Australian Grand Prix race suit up for auction to help raise funds for those affected by the bushfires that have left a trail of devastation throughout his home country in recent weeks.

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Ricciardo to raffle race suit to aid Australia bushfire victims

Daniel Ricciardo will put one of his race suits up for raffle to help raise funds for those affected by the bushfires wreaking havoc in his home country of Australia.

8.4m hectares of land across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia has been burnt after increasingly intense bushfires swept through the country in the midst of searing hot temperatures.

To help raise money for the long recovery effort, Ricciardo has said via Instagram that he will auction off a signed race suit that he uses at this year’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

“Australia is suffering with some severe devastating bushfires,” Ricciardo said.

“Anyone who is kind enough to donate, please do.

“There’s the Australian Red Cross and there’s WIRES wildlife rescue. I’m sure there’s a bunch more but these are two I’ve donated to, so please, if you can.

“My race suit I’ll race with at this year’s Australian Grand Prix. I’ll sign that and we’ll raffle that and all proceeds will go to those two charities as well.

“I’ll get some details further over the next few days.”

Ricciardo ended the video saying he was thinking of his fellow compatriots during these very difficult times and called on anyone who can help to do so.

“My thoughts are with everyone who is suffering through this time and let’s act upon it.”

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