Moving on up: New entries from Renault F1 and Alfa Sauber promise improvement
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Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Feb 2018   |  12:20 pm GMT  |  160 comments

It’s looking like a very competitive F1 season ahead, certainly as far as the midfield race is concerned, if the latest new car launches are anything to go by.

Sauber, which revealed its car on Tuesday morning, has been in the doldrums since BMW pulled out in 2010, although for a while at least they had teams like Caterham and Manor propping up the table behind them.

Last year was a real struggle and then came the cavalry in the form of a partnership with Ferrari for technical and commercial support, new Ferrari V6 engines and Alfa Romeo branding and cash.

The car revealed today looks a lot more purposeful and evolved than recent years, but one senses it’s a case of ‘more to come’ from this team, as the deals were done relatively late.

The car is a new concept, which means that there will be plenty of headroom for development.

But the time available after the deals were done, with meaningful resources being thrown at the aerodynamics in particular, was limited. It will be in the second half of 2018 and then into 2019 that you’ll see this team moving up.

The main difference between the cars at the front of the grid and the back – given that they have the same engine – is downforce. And not just barn door downforce, but efficient downforce which means maximum load in corners but without excessive drag on the straights.

That comes at a hefty price – the additional $90m or so per year that top teams can spent on R&D compared to the minnows, principally in the aerodynamics area.

In Charles Leclerc (above right) they have the most exciting driver to graduate from GP2/F2 since Lewis Hamilton in 2007, so the car should have opportunities to score some points.

Last year it was very close in midfield but with rules stability likely to close the gaps, that midfield does look incredibly tight this year and there will be a premium on the best drivers getting the results.

It’s early days and testing starts next week, but one would expect behind the top three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, a gap back to a tight group led by McLaren, Renault, Force India, Williams, then Sauber and Haas pretty close with Toro Rosso. It could be that a couple of tenths of a second separates 7th on the grid from 15th this year.

Commercially Sauber has added not only the Alfa Romeo branding, which looks great on the rear of the car, but also the tie up with Ferrari has brought new deals from Kappa, Carrera and Richard Mille, who backs Leclerc.

There’s no clarity on this yet, but one suspects that the lowest budget in the field is now Haas in the sub $100m range, with Force India not far ahead.


Renault must perform in 2018
Renault went live with their car on Tuesday, shortly after Sauber.

This team has been steadily ramping back up after buying back their operation in Enstone from Gerard Lopez’ Lotus concern.

There has been a lot of investment in infrastructure and hiring of personnel – albeit not on Mercedes or Ferrari levels – and the car and engine package should be a lot more competitive this season, with two strong drivers in Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz.

The German referred in the launch notes to “the news from Viry (Renault’s engine base, near Paris) about the development of the power unit… everything looks and sounds good,” which gives him an optimistic outlook for the season.

“The workforce has already increased by more than 35%,” added Renault Sport F1 president Jerome Stoll. “Our investment has so far been successfully translated to the track as we rose from ninth to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2017 and ended the year with the fourth fastest car.”

Commercially Renault has pulled in new deals with insurance firm MAPFRE and Alibaba.

Jack Aitken comes in as third driver and reserve, which duties he will carry out alongside his challenge for the FIA F2 championship. Artem Markelov, an F2 front runner from last season, takes on a role as development driver.

What do you think of the midfield challenge? Leave your comments in the section below

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1

James,

I’ve noticed long time ago that you’re rather very pro Mercedes, and just the opposite regarding Renault (and rather neutral regarding other teams).

Mercedes is getting the credit even when they don’t deserve one (although to be fair, those were rather rare moments in recent years), while Renault doesn’t get any credit even when one is way overdue (ie not even a mention, let alone an article back in ’13 about the most successful engine manufacturer of V10 and 2.4l V8 era – even though you’ve said in one of the replays it is nice idea).

Even now, don’t you think Renault, just like any other team deserve stand alone article for their car launch?

Instead, for the Renault launch, you’ve cramped barely few sentences at the bottom of what is essentialy the Sauber article.

When Mercedes get couple of fans a factory tour, you write at lenghts about it.

No offense, but you’ve got me wondering what have they (Renault) done to you?

For a bystander this really looks like something personal.

2

I think that’s a very narrow view

Not sure why you have chosen to pick out this supposed narrative but I cN assure you it is not true

I’ve written quite a bit on Renault (engines & team) and will be doing this year as they look likely to feature

3

James,

Thanks for the reply.

Well, I’ve got my opinion based on facts I’ve listed, after following your site for years.

Here’s another example: last year Renault celebrated 40 years of their involvement in F1, and you even didn’t mentioned it, let alone did a article about such important contributer to the sport we all love (and you make living out of).

I might be wrong, as you say, but that’s how does it look to me (based on the facts I’ve mentioned),

I hope you’ll prove me wrong, especially since this year Renault look decent after first two days of testing and you might have something positive to say about them,

4

Have anyone noticed Ferrari and Sauber alfa romeo gone the same direction not coincidentally their sidepods however their front wings……

5

At first, like all of these pre-season releases, I was dismissive of the new Sauber.

While I still expect very significant changes to ALL cars between now and the first test, and likely much change between the last test and Melbourne, there are some very interesting design features worth noting.

First let’s go over the Renault: it has adopted many of the Ferrari sidepod/floor sculpting, which we see as a trend in the cars released so far this year, 2018. We must, of course, remember that the key changes needed for the Renault teams is under the hood (some of you call it, ‘bonnet’?’ lol). What happens with the comparative power delivery of the Renault power unit, compared to Ferrari, and most importantly, Mercedes, will be the key factor affecting three potentially top tier team, Renault, Red Bull, and possibly McLaren (though I am as doubtful as ever of the current iteration of Mc). We know, as well as can be known, that the RB will be a very competitive chassis; so we will be able to assess the engine performance and the comparative performances of Renault and Mc from that.

Sauber Alfa Romeo:

I am intrigued by two aspects of this iteration of the car (though still expecting significant change come Melbourne):

1. Side pod treatment bucking the trend of the 2017 Ferrari emulators

I found the Jorg Zander video at sister site https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/sauber-wheelbase-tweak-hints-at-ferrari-change-1007052/ very illuminating.

a. wheel base changes lengthened at front, to accommodate (contemporary) turning elements (/aero), b. note front suspension elements: potentially a further extrapolation of the approach by 2017 Ferrari?! definitely aero and airflow manipulating/handling. c. nose treatment, initially I wondered how this could meet the regulations specs, but careful look reveals a somewhat clever interpretation of those specifications, are those ‘nostrils’ like a conservative version of the 2016 Force I?

2. Back end

This seems drastically different from the 2017 Sauber!

Zander indicates that the back end lengthening of the wheel base to accommodate the Ferrari transmission, and suspension. Are they getting the max from Ferrari, under the new regs? It looks like it.

The two heavy weights have yet to release their photos, and we can expect that they will NOT reflect those cars as we shall see them on the grid, but are we seeing perhaps a year similar to 2004, when the Sauber was a virtual blue clone of the Ferr?

I can’t get over the sidepod differentiation of the Sauber, and whether of not, after leading the pack to a similar configuration to the 2017 Ferr sidepods, could we see a different sidepod packaging in 2018 from Ferr?

And if so, what reason(s) behind them?

Still expecting the Merc to be dissappointingly untouchable, managing the season’s illusion of competition, but you never know (there still could be a conceivable 1% chance of them somehow flubbing it?! Well, maybe, maybe not.)

6

Are you being serious?

The worst team on the grid and hands down favourite to come last has found some kind of miracle and/or negotiates a Ferrari clone deal when all they’ve really done is put a fancy sticker on the car.

7

Compared to the Renault, that Sauber looks awfully fat at the back. If the Ferrari engine is that much larger than the Renault, then the Red teams might have some red faces by mid season.

8

Great paint jobs……BUT those halos are just awful. They may as well just put a jet fighter style canopy over the top and have done with it.

9
Tornillo Amarillo

James the BARGEBOARDS around the sidepods this year are a mess… Look at this Sauber, it looks horrible! I don’t mind if they work!

Better put them in black to hide them to the naked eye like Williams did, does somebody agree?

10

I think the livery on both cars looks great. The pink car will potentially be the only stinker livery wise. The new Renault looks like last year’s car with a reworked roll hoop intake area. I expect more bits in testing. The Sauber looks like the fully developed car sans the rear brake flip ups. It looks sharp and interesting, but with that many intakes, it goes in the opposite direction of Neweys simplistic designs. The Renualt is the only car so far to not adopt the lower crash structure design ahead of the side pods.

11

So far, all the shiny new paint is wonderful, & I still think a bouncing tyre will fit through the top of the Halo. In a Jules Bianchi situation, the Halo may retain its integrity, but it will rip the mounts from the tub & . . . . sorry, I’m off topic.

All the cars I have seen to date have a wide body curve above the floor behind the radiators, that probably houses the exhausts. This will add aero wash onto the rear tyres, & disturb the smooth air flow under the rear wing, which will take effectiveness away from the diffuser.

All, except the Red Bull.

I have no idea what they have done with the exhaust, but the better working diffuser will give RB the same downforce as other teams, with less wing.

Dan Ric has said he likes the car with less wing, so I think even Mercedes will have trouble catching the RB at some tracks.

An exciting year lays ahead.

12

Renault car design looks more conservative than say redbull, i hope they have alot of upgrades for the first race.

13

Those two liveries look fantastic. Renault will always be the team from the Prost/Arnoux days for me so the yellow and black looks fantastic to my eyes. And that Alfa Sauber scheme is really eye catching with the iconic Alfa logo.

14

Easily the best looking car so far. Hope they can progress a bit.

Anyway we need some new teams. James, do you know if Liberty have any plans to that effect?

15

Apart from the Red Bull, which looks ‘uber’ interesting as it is yet mainly unseen and unexplained, the balance are all rather underwhelming. I always hope to see some marked differences but unfortunately they very rarely occur!!! I blame that on the prescriptive Formula. If only we could have diversity in design. The ‘paint em white’ and stand 150 metres away and could you tell which car belonged to which team is still a strong reminder. Ferrari design the most beautiful cars which are among the most desired vehicles in the world…why not let them loose to design images of 21st century racecars? To think that we have at least another three years is agony. The ‘Halo’ just makes it all that much worse.

16

As long as the FIA and the motor industry run F1, I can’t see the design parameters changing for the better in 2021. If anything, the already hog-tied engineers will be locked into even tighter constraints to suit highly restrictive road car agendas. Even if they are irrelevant to motor sport.
It will only make homologation the focal point and with that will come a plethora of standard parts and even more similar design characteristics when fitting them.

Open slather F1 design could only become a reality again when the current rule and regulation “libraries” are thrown out and replaced with a new, simpler set of guidelines which attract the right participants and their partners.
There’s only one way for F1 to stand alone and truly return to the PINNACLE of motor sport …
open cheque books, open design parameters, open engine / PU choice, no fuel limits (type included), refuelling, and lots more tyres -especially for practice and quali.
Do all of that and you attract many and varied competitors from many and varied backgrounds with mega bucks to spend on R&D of their concepts in competitive, like-minded forum.
Guys like Mateschitz, Haas, Mallya, Branson etc came to F1from incredibly different backgrounds with totally different agendas … that’s the true essence of F1. Big spenders competing against each other.
At present, F1 is merely an incestuous platform for advertising and selling boring, economic, safe road cars to sales reps, tradies, soccer mums, tech savvy dads and teenager girls!

Billionaires don’t become billionaires by being told what they can and can’t do with their money and resources. Especially by a powerful industry that doesn’t interest them one iota and is run solely to suit it’s own agendas. Billionaires from every walk of life continually seek new, exciting platforms where they can compete against each other in a bid to see who can come up with the next great innovation – whether that be an engine, gearbox, differential, composite material, electronic device, paint, adhesive, tyre, fuel, lubricant, metal compound, cooling fluid etc etc etc.
That is how innovation takes over and inspirational, ground-breaking design concepts become the norm.
At present, this convergence of different industries on one pit-lane simply isn’t possible because the FIA and the motor industry won’t allow F1 to go back to being a place where all industries are welcome to display their wares.

Restrictive budgets, restrictive rules and regs, restrictive R&D and testing, restrictive practice and racing formats etc etc etc only creates restricted and contrived results where the richest one with the most resources wins.
Being as restrictive and as negative as possible seems to be the norm when the motor industry and the FIA has it’s say – because it ensures that it keeps their “pets” at the top of the pecking order.

Don’t forget, they completely changed the rules and implemented Hybrid PUs when a fizzy drinks company made the motor industry competitors look silly for 4 years running with an engine that was only the 2nd or 3rd best in the field!

Positivity, diversity and open slather innovation is what will make F1 spectacular and great once again … it’s also what will bring more competitors, fans, sponsorship and big money.

Liberty are the ones who can achieve it, they have the money, power, connections and many different modern media platforms to market it on … they just have to have the balls to walk away from the FIA and stop being dictated to by road car manufacturers who act like F1 is theirs to bastardise as they see fit … then they simply come and go whenever it suits their Board of Director’s agendas.

17

Hi Jack,

Interesting observations old mate, I’d prefer to remain optimistic about Liberty too!

18

Re Alfa/Sauber livery …..

Is 2018 the final year of the Martini/Williams sponsorship deal ….?

19

I am interested in all the negative comments. Where do all the naysayers find the time. I have been watching F1 since 1975 when as a 12 year old I “discovered” what a hero was to me in James Hunt,when he won the Dutch GP in the Hesketh. Some say he was “peddling” the car. We had no TV in South Africa at the time so it was radio commentary. Now living in Australia and happy to pay the Foxtel fee to watch this and many other sports. When my Dad took me the the 1976 British GP at Brands Hatch I was sold on F!. I have attended many GP around the world since. So for 43 years I have been following this sport. I have watched it change and develop over the years and much like my life I like some of the changes and some others maybe not so much. Guys, just enjoy the spectacle, chill out a bit, sit back open a beer with a mate watch the races and don’t stress yourselves out about things that you cant influence. I am waiting in anticipation for Melbourne and the launch of Fernando’s McLaren Renault off the grid, into the lead on his and his teams way to a first with in a while. Go forth and enjoy, its not as serious as you think!

20

Nice one David; I’m excited for McLaren’s first win of the year at Melbourne too…

21

Great comment David, my thoughts exactly! I have been watching since the early eighties, and enjoy the sport just as much now as I difd then. There will always be things that aren’t perfect, but the fundamental principle of the best drivers in the fastest cars remains.

22

TimW… Let’s say 5 years from now they decide to please Al Gore even more, and they halve the fuel flow. That would slow the cars down and might even more and possibly make them slower than indycars.

So it’s not that a faster series will turn up, it’s more likely that F1 will come up with another koo koo bananas scheme that will make it slower.

23

LukeC, you teally think another series might turn up with faster cars than F1? Dream on! ‘massive performance disparity’? When was this not the case?

24

Amen brother! Can’t wait for the start of the season!

25

That’s pretty much all that remains. And even the “best drivers” is open to debate as there is such a massive performance disparity between the teams that it makes you wonder.

Plus there is no guarantee that what you’ve pointed out as the “fundamental principle” will remain ten years from now, or even five years from now, as F1 no longer has any recognisable DNA, and everything is on the table for amendments or even outright axing.

26

I am one year older than you David…..You are just the kind of viewer the F1 circus want! I however refuse to comply.

27

The Sauber looks great, the Renault not so much….

28

Compare the overhead shots of the Renault with the rear looking photos of the Sauber. They look like the before and after photos from a slimming commercial (and the French car isn’t the tubby one). The packaging job on the rear of the Renault looks very narrow.

29

James.

Any news on engine gains from the manufactures. Can’t help but feel that this is going to end up being irrelevant as Merc new engine will probably have another 50bhp and Ferrari will be no where. What about Renault and Honda?.

30

It’s funny how a new paint job and a fancy name can change things. Last year, I could not care less where Sauber finished but this year, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on ‘Alfa’. The car looks cool…Halo aside…and the name is pure motorsport; works for me, i’m that shallow.

31

@ Reuben…How true….Just look at the blandness of ‘Renault’s’ logo with that of Alfa Romeo..really, no comparison. The new ARS car looks so much better. If we were to label the Sauber with the term ‘equipe’ ,as in team, we could then affix a new acronym for them as the ARSE team from Switzerland hahaha

32

Ha, awesome!!

33

Hi James,

I’m really enjoying your take on new release Havaiinas footwear with all these different colours and all.

But where are the F1 cars?!?!

34

Where are the F1 cars? A lot of people have been asking that question since Melbourne 2014.

35

TimW.. I imagine F1 would look like an amalgamation of what we had in the mid 90s with a little bit of mid 2000s thrown in in terms of bodywork perhaps.

In other words much better looking and much better sounding than what we have now.

And there would be no thong and no PU and fuel rationing since those elements add nothing to the spectacle of F1.

And there would still be grid girls, since pandering to modern feminism is a bad image for F1.

And everybody would have a lot more money since they wouldn’t have spent it all on Prius tech to please shysters like Al Gore.

And the cars would weigh 200kg less and would be light and agile.

And the competition would be closer.

36

LukeC, what do you think the sport would look like if those ‘errors’ hadn’t been made?

37

TimW.. People never appreciate what they have until it’s gone.

Speaking of 2013 and prior to that, I don’t recall any fans asking for F1 to become a marketing channel for prious tech; I never recall anyone asking for fuel and PU rationing; I never recall anyone asking for a thong above the cockpit; I never recall anyone asking for F1 to align itself with the pseudo-green movement led by sheysters such as Al Gore; and I never recall anyone asking for F1 to align itself with a pathological and man-hating movement that is modern feminism.

In conclusion some serious errors of judgement have been made and many ill- though out decisions, and there is no point pretending otherwise.

38

LukeC, after reading yours and numerous other comments referring to how terrible the cars and sport are now, I decided to go back and have a look at an article from 2013. You might imagine that in an era without PUs, Halos, Lewis/Merc domination and with all the grid girls a chap could possibly wish for, that the comments section would be full of happy F1 fans congratulating the FIA on doing such a great job, but guess what? It wasn’t.

https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2013/11/guest-blog-how-f1-has-changed-by-ed-gorman/

39

Melbourne 2014? The change of rules post 2008 season made cars look like toys.

2017 mostly addressed the issue, with still a too wide and over engineered front wing.

40

Two articles about V12s and sound on Road and Track in one week.

You’re not fooling anyone R&T, we know you want at least a NA V10 back in F1.

#MeToo 🙂

http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/classic-cars/a18212250/honda-ra-272-v12-sound/

http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/classic-cars/a18212220/matra-simca-ms670-sound/

41

Mechanical engineering lesson:

The problem with V12s, as my old neighbour’s Jag XJ12 will relate, is
problems with oil churning. It just isn’t possible to pump the oil out of the crankcase quick enough in a 12 cylinder engine without the oil greasing up around the sides of the block, leading to overheating and efficiency problems.

While a V12 does have perfect primary and secondary balance which means it doesn’t need any heavy or power sapping balance shafts unlike a V8 or V6, the extra cylinders and valves mean more moving parts, meaning more frictional losses, which cancels out the benefits of the smoothness of a V12. Add on extra fuel, oil and water required, bigger radiators and more complex plumbing and exhaust system required for a 12 cylinder, which adds weight – an absolute evil in motor sport – then the purported benefits of a 12 banger just isn’t worth it compared to a light, agile, compact V8 or V6.

42

Gaz

Engineering lesson – you need to do more research as your completely wrong.

Dry sump reduces much of the issue you refer to

V8 and V6 do not “require” balance shafts.

Inherent vibration in a v engine is a function of crank layout (flat plane for example) and degrees of “V”

V engine of six and eight cylinders have very little vibration. 12 cylinder V engines are often two V sixes anyway.

A straight six engine is inherently perfectly balanced however most creat a harmonic at high rpm that is capable of shattering the crankshaft. Hence large dampers on the cranks of many BMW,s.

Vibration is not always an issue but it’s pitch frequently is.

43

Gazboy, the Jaguar V12 is an understressed and extremely reliable engine. The problem you describe as ‘oil churning’, doesn’t exist, why would oil need to be pumped out of the crankcase? What do you mean by ‘greasing up around the sides of the block’? These terms make no sense.

44

Sounds like a problem F1 could solve.

Also, who said V12 is an absolutr must? V10 is just fine. At this point, so is going back to V8. Nice small displacement of 2.0L and let the engine maker choose. Wouldn’t that be cool to see who can make most power from 2L engine?

45

Re; Small displacement NA v’s – Before tailpipe emissions became a controlling factor, some major manufacturers were exploring 2-cycle supercharged v6’s. You want sound !

Too bad F1 got locked into the environmental political movement.

46

That little Honda sounds amazing

Lots of potentially good solutions for an F1 engine. Love to see a brave move on the part of Liberty and Fia, ditch the strategy group and come up with an engine for the fans.

47

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if F1 lifted the cylinder limit, and just put a displacement limit on engines? Let them build these little 1.5L V12s with today’s engine tech?

48

So…

3 black things

2 white toilet seats.

Come on Ferrari, show us one in red like this official Puma footwear.

49

Agreed.

50

You’ll get used to them Sebee. Martin Brundle says so. In fact, apparently by the third or fourth race you won’t even notice them anymore.

51

Or maybe even the 3rd or 4th corner in Melbourne.

52

We won’t notice them because by 3rd or 4th race, we won’t be watching.

53

Luke, Martin means normal people won’t notice….

54

Now I know where FIA got the idea from, for the Halo on 2018 cars…hahaha!

55

A black and yellow Renault is classic,

even if it isn’t nationalistic.

56

@gene

I believe, that yellow is the the French racing color. Like red for Italy, green for Britian.

57

My memory says French racing color is light blue.

However, Renault did combine light blue with yellow in the recent past.

58

Wasn’t Vandoorne ‘the most exciting prospect since Hamilton’? How does Leclerc’s F2 campaign compare with Vandoorne’s?

I honestly don’t follow F2 that closely but I thought Vandoorne’s title winning season most the series’s most dominant?

59

He was much more experienced and was expected to dominate.

Leclerc, like Hamilton, was a rookie and it’s very hard for a rookie to win that series; tyre knowledge for one thing.

It’s arguably harder in the Pirelli era (i.e. now) than when Hamilton did it on Bridgestones, as the tyres take more understanding.

60

I like the fact that that he’s just one of us now…and no longer has his own special grey box! Very egalitarian JA!!

61

Ah I see.

Can I just say how cool it is that my favourite F1 website is run by the same man who commentated on races during my childhood, and who takes the time to answer my, and many others’, questions? Thanks a bunch, James!!!

62

No worries! Glad you like the site. Thanks

63

hopefully a 2018 Ferrari PU will do the Alfa. And justice and they’ll be right back in the mix.

If the Pirelli tyres work out to an average of 2 stops per race (or more like 2.3 average where at some circuits 3 stops is the quickest option), and Renault PU is decent, we could have a classic season on our hands.

I imagine Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari would pull away, in that order, with McLaren not too far behind.

Then the midfield would be so bunched up (between Renault, Force India, Williams and hopefully Alfa-Sauber and Haas), that the front runners would find it difficult to pit into a gap before their tyres go off.

When they pit they could be stuck behind one and two stopping Toro Rosso’s, Haases and Alfa’s.

If this happens every race, we could have some fun racing ahead. All hinges on that Renault PU though, and the field tightening up. Toro Rosso is a wildcard with the Honda PU, but maybe they’ll make it slippery to counteract any power deficit?

I hope Alfa gets onto the podium this year with Leclerc (maybe in Azerbaijan?). Just love Alfa Romeo!

64

Remember its not actually Alfa, its Sauber with some money and a logo from Marchione because Alfa car sales need a (another) boost.

Depending on how much money, it may give Marchionne a second string with which to threaten Liberty to pull two teams out of F1 if the new rules do not suit them (and loosing their Ferrari veto and 5% off the top) Though no way do FCA own Sauber. (Currently) In any case it is the FIA that make the rules not the Commercial rights Leaseholder.

It will be interesting to see if FCA take any ownership share in Sauber over the next two years to cement the threat.

65

Spot on. Alfa Romeo is just a sticker that pays for Ferrari engines, and just a performance brand of FCA not a real manufacturer like BMW or Ford. Since the Ferrari spinoff I believe FCA no longer owns any of Ferrari and therefore has no F1 or other racing credibility. But, Marchionne has management control over both FCA and Ferrari and so can cause FCA to pay for Ferrari engines for Sauber. Who’s going to fight him about that decision? Probably not a good deal for FCA shareholders because putting a sticker on Sauber won’t really boost the value of Alfa Romeo’s brand.

66

Marchionne has made no secret about getting another FIAT brand on the track. He initially sounded like he wanted to field a complete Alpha team but I think he saw an opportunity with Sauber. I’m thinking Sauber is looking to get off the ownership horse. It will be interesting to see just how things will progress. I don’t see any dark conspiratorial moves on Marchionne’s behalf. He and Sauber have been quite open. There’s no reason for Ferrari to commit to anything without testing the concept and potential ROI. This current Alpha Sauber deal does just that.

67
Tornillo Amarillo

It could be that a couple of tenths of a second separates 7th on the grid

Candidates for 7th on the grid?

Alonso, Sainz, Hulk, Perez.

But in race day is different.

James how many 2 stops we had had in 2017 and how many are expected in 2018?

68

Ask me again after the winter testing

Very few was the answer for 2017. I hope a lot more for 2018

69

I hope it doesn’t change the character of the track too much. I’ve been going to the Spanish GP since 2005 (8th coming up this year) and I’ve worked out all the decent vantage points – it would a shame for all that research to go out the window!

70

Interesting to read about the resurfacing of the Circuit De Catalunya. James, do you think this will affect the track much? Sepang never looked the same after it was resurfaced a couple of years ago.

71

Bound to. It was pretty abrasive. That long T3 took it out of the left front

72

How much are we going to learn from testing regarding tire wear? I thought the circuit was just resurfaced. If so, wouldn’t that skew your estimate of future tire use?

73

Fair point and also it is usually quite cold relatively speaking. It seems worse in testing than it turns out in places like Bahrain and China in early season.

But we normally get a reasonable picture. We won’t know precisely the thermal degradation however, until we get to Bahrain.

74
Tornillo Amarillo

expect behind the top three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, a gap back to a tight group led by McLaren, Renault, Force India, Williams, then Sauber and Haas pretty close with Toro Rosso

So this is your pecking order forecast for this year.

I like to think McLaren will match or overcome Red Bull and that Williams finally will do better than Force India.

75

Red Bull were occasionally a match for Mercedes and Ferrari last season. I’m expecting them to really take it to those two this season. With Verstappen and Ricciardo I don’t see a better driver lineup on the grid. If McLaren can get close to Red Bull then I see Alonso at least with a race win or two. McLaren have been working hard on their chassis the last few years and it looks to be Red Bull good to me.

76

Dreamer. Mclaren hasn’t produced a chassis superior to RBR since 2012, even then it was lewis’s driving. Highly doubt they’ll be ahead or even close to match RBR. At best they’ll be 4th, behind the big 3.

77

At best they’ll be 4th, behind the big 3.

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Better than being at the ass end of the grid….the Renault running teams should be an interesting battle, reliability the key of course, dial that mofo in please…as will the internal battle of Hulkenberg and Sainz

78

Hard to tell for sure but they really have developed that chassis the last few years. I think it will be very very close between Red Bull and McLaren, and Renault taking a big step to be just behind them.

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