F1 in for a shock

F1 fans want news, fans crave it. F1 is driven by numbers, by predictions, by people thinking outside the box.

And of course, by drivers which we consider “the human factor”.

Budgets have become bigger over the years, and F1 teams no longer fly by the seat of their pants. They fill spreadsheets, analyze subjects one by one, add it all up, subtract all negatives, divide, multiply, then re-analyze the result. Then make a single modification to the heap of variables, and start all over again. Evolution is the name of the game, revolution is less wanted. Surprises are too difficult to cope with.  And in most cases surprises aren’t positive in a highly competitive sport like F1..

This is why teams like to stay with their current suppliers and current drivers: they know how to work their spreadsheets. That is one of the reasons that Williams re-signed Massa, and one of the reasons Sauber wants to stay with Ferrari engines. Don’t rock the boat, because the boat will rock you.

That is why I was shocked to hear that McLaren will start using Renault engines and Honda will start supplying Torro Rosso. Not shocked in the sense that I didn’t see it coming: I have willed this for the last 3 months. (For people who want how “willing things to work” works: have a look at coach Tony Atlas spurring on Michael Moorer in his heavyweight fight with Evander Holyfield. Exactly that, except in my case I am only yelling to like-minded people..)

I was shocked in that it is real new news. It changes things. It opens up the driver’s market too.

Honda is THE answer for Red Bull. Red Bull has been complaining about not having enough engine suppliers in F1. Honda is only engine suppliers, so that would make a great fit for Red Bull, who is great at making chassis. Obviously, they would have a minor issue with engine performance, which was the cause for Red Bull’s wish for having more engine suppliers..

But Red Bull has already some tricks up their sleeve. They already have experience in working with under-performing engines. They already learned that kicking and screaming (like McLaren is currently doing) simply doesn’t work. Plus Honda got slapped just about enough to be willing to accept help. The timing sounds is right, and Red Bull is one of the teams that willing to try something new. The story is rounded, the puzzle fits.

That in the deal McLaren will get Renault engines, and Sainz will get a Renault seat, that is simply icing on the cake. Sainz really needs something new, and Renault is on the rise. It is good for both.

Hulk is a solid performer and Sainz will get an opportunity to measure himself to something non-Red Bull. If this again kicks off a ludicrous internal team-battle (like Sainz v. Verstappen, Sainz v. Kyvat), we might conclude that this is something in Sainz’ personality. (This is the only thing that is really bothering me about Sainz)

Sainz’ departure opens the door for Gasly to take on of the Torro Rosso seats, and open the door for Palmer to… well, it opens the door for Palmer.

With Renault replacing Honda at McLaren, chances are that Alonso will stay for another season. Van Doorne has already been confirmed, I don’t see a good reason for McLaren to want something else in the light of signing Renault, so no further changes there are to be expected.

Ferrari will remain unchanged in its line-up for 2018.

However, some of the other teams might be in for some change as well. Sainz’s move to Renault, closes the door for Kubica. Since Renault was the only team testing Kubica, estimations are Robert will remain seat-less for the coming season. He will pose too much of a liability for other teams. If they are going to take a risk, they would much rather pull a “Verstappen” and get someone young. Robert’s only option would be to sign a reserve driver contract with Renault.

Massa was out for 2017, then back in again. Although Massa is solid, his contract only is for a single year, and competition for that seat will be fierce. Especially from drivers which are affiliated to Mercedes.

Force India has contracts with both their drivers, but recent events will have caused a situation that both drivers are happy with the team, but not happy with their colleague-driver. Would Ocon be allowed to make a jump? That would open up a seat for Wehrlein and create a solution for his non-developing career.  Wehrlein at Williams: not if I was Claire Williams.

The argument that Martini wants to have an “over 25 year old” next to Stroll: are they really paying Williams that much? Rumors are they are paying less than is reflected by the space on the car.

At Haas: I expect Romain remains. I am a KMag fan (remember: I always root for the underdog.. must be some masochistic trait) but I do see that his star doesn’t shine too often.

Sauber will be upgraded to newer Ferrari engines, or will they be rebadged to Alfa Romeo? Ericsson will probably stick on another year. He brings in a solid budget. Ferrari would want some fresh blood for the coming seasons, Giovinazzi for example, or Leclerc. No use training Mercedes’ talent.

Honda to Torro Rosso: shocking! And there will be more shocking stuff in its wake!

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14 responses to “F1 in for a shock

  1. The Red Bull empire is seemingly blinded by the same rose tinted specs that McLaren have worn since the Honda tie up was announced.

    Honda will improve, they cannot get worse, but in the last quarter of a century, their engineering prowess has not been comparable to the Europeans.

    They hit the perfect storm in the 80’s by working with the two best teams employing the best drivers of that era. Dominance was unavoidable. The European manufacturers were in different stages of disarray.

    Ferrari’s patriarch was dying, leaving Ferrari under FIAT control, Ford was using its venerable DFV and BMW and Renault were curtailing their programmes.when Renault returned to full works support, the Williams team dominated and pushed the Japanese into retirement.

    Nothing has changed and anybody believing Red Bull will dominate with Honda is in for a rude awakening.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that Red Bull were going to continue with the ‘Tag Heuer’ badged Renault engine next season.

    • Well, I think the point is that RBR have a ringside seat on two engine developments now. Not the best two engines, admittedly but it’s better than a single option They won’t be squeamish about picking the best of the two. An enviable position.

      Props to Renault for being part of the deal – they get Sainz out of it. Let’s hope he’s worth it. The downside is they now supply to two higher-profile teams with a history of being bitchy about suppliers. This in addition to trying to get their own team competitive. Good luck with that (sincerely).

      Renault could have pussied out like MB and Ferrari and refused to supply McLaren but they stepped up and made it happen. Kudos.

    • My take on the same era, the same facts;
      Honda entered F1 through the average Swift and Toleman teams. As soon as they got their engine in the back of a Williams, they ended McL/TAG-Porsches dominance, prevented Ferrari from winning for along time and pushed Renault and BMW out of F1.
      Was it because of Williams, as you suggest? No, Ron Dennis managed to steal the Honda’s from Williams, starting McLarens own period of dominance.
      Honda were not lucky in the 80’s / early 90’s. They were just top notch. Development was their strong point. Building the best product.

      At the early noughties, the rules changed. When the rev limits and later the engine freeze came, it wasn’t about doing the best development, it was about timing and clever interpretation of those regs. Remember, Mercedes 2.4 V8 was not a very good engine before the freeze. The number of Mercs stranded at the side of the track…
      When the freeze came, all engine manufactures homologated the engine they’d used up until then. Apart from Mercedes who homologated a purpose build unit. Clever!
      Almost as clever where Renault and Ferrari who introduced a series of “reliability oriented” updates. Bringing their engines on par with Merc.
      Without the possibilities to develop – the Japanese engines where reliable and their honesty and correctness prevented them from using that excuse – both Honda’s and Toyota’s V8’s slipped behind those of there European counterparts.

      Honda’s return with McLaren was hindered by entering a year early and by not being allowed to develop in season (that idiotic token system). Now that the token system has been dropped, Honda have been making big strides. Now we have to wait and see how one of the last remaining idiotic rules – only 3 PU’s for the whole 2018 season – will hinder their development…

      • >Now that the token system has been dropped, Honda have been making big strides.
        If you’d said this a year ago, I might have allowed it as reasonable. But we’re another year on and if anything with that extra year the Honda engine has got worse rather than better.

        RBR are probably hoping that with another year of development, Honda engines will be competitive, but that’s exactly what McLaren were thinking last year…

  2. And don’t forget Ilmor are now apparently helping out Honda… with their connections into Red Bull they can give Horner and the guys ‘inside information’ on how much potential there is with Honda.

  3. The only problem is that the Honda engine is crap, Honda corporate culture is crap, Honda communication is crap and it will remain crap for the next three years. The only thing that Honda in a TR is good for is to put Honda in a position where they have to buy the team or leave. And Honda is falling into the trap.
    There is no way in hell that the Honda engine will beat anything the next few years. And by the looks of their engineering quality the last 2 decades, they will fail to produce a winning engine with the next set of rules too.

    • The engine is not just slow, it breaks down all the time too. And when it manages to run properly, it cannot employ the full potential because it consumes to much fuel and depends to much on the alternative energy bits. Honda, for three years, has been developing slower than the other manufacturers. They have to work harder than all others to get level. And even harder to surpass. That’s not happening.

      • As I understand it, Honda made a fundamental mistake right at the start by assuming the key to good engine design was to minimise the turbo size and thereby the lag. What they missed, however, was that in the hybrid era recovered energy could effectively be *stored* in the turbo, and – unlike the battery – there was no limitation on how much of that stored energy you could use during a lap. So it was like Honda was running a hybrid racing car with a battery half or less the size of that of the other teams, hence the Honda forever running out of boost on the long straights. And in the token era, fixing something this fundamental was just not an option, hence the first wasted year of “GP3 engine”.

        But that was the first season. Why was it also so bad last season and this season? That’s another matter and it’s hard to come up with any reasons other than Honda’s just doing a lousy job of designing and developing an engine!

  4. If people think Alonso gets a kick from cracking his whip at Honda, just wait until Red Bull gets frustrated.

  5. The guy who wrote this article is as blind as Stevie Wonder if he can’t see the complaints who came from RBR in the last 2 years regarding the renault engines when he said this (But Red Bull has already some tricks up their sleeve. They already have experience in working with under-performing engines. They already learned that kicking and screaming (like McLaren is currently doing) simply doesn’t work).The guys from Mclaren can’t be blame because they’ve lost the patience..And I#m the one who thinks that move of Mclaren is a wrong move .

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