Renault’s Rob White: F1 won’t slow down with new V-6 engines

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The engines may be getting smaller in Formula One this season, but Renault Sport F1 deputy managing director Rob White predicts that the cars will remain as quick as they have been.

This year, F1 teams will have to contend with 1.6-liter, turbocharged V-6 engines, or “power units,” after running 2.4-liter, normally aspirated motors for the last eight seasons.

Obviously, that’s a major change and there is some belief that lap times could go up with the new engines. But in a Q&A, White says that the speed will be retained through all of the new technical regulations that are debuting in 2014.

“What was an academic question in the beginning has become a lot more real from every point of view, but we have no need to worry,” White said. “Obviously, we are still in the virtual world and not on track but we have measured PU performance on the test bed and have matched the most optimistic predictions.

“We believe that the Power Unit will deliver a lot of power and will be more than enough to make cars quick. The way that the cars will deliver this performance will be somewhat different this year due to the PU and aero regulations. The driving experience will be quite different, but we will absolutely see real speed out on track.”

However, White still expects that there will be plenty of “unpredictable outcomes” in the new season, which will also see new energy-recovery systems on the cars and a fuel limit per driver of 100 kilograms in each race.

According to White, that means a noticeable change is coming in how teams manage a race.

“…The way in which the races are managed by the teams is one of the big differences between 2013 and 2014,” he said. “It is fair to say there are several different ways to skin a cat and this will produce different scenarios as we explore different possibilities about how to manage energy and power.

“Although the tool kit that we have is different, the fundamentals of the races remain very similar. Ultimately, it is for the drivers to go for the opportunities presented to them.”

White’s Renault group will be one of three entities to produce V-6 power units this season alongside Mercedes and Ferrari. Renault is set to supply engines for World Champions Red Bull, Lotus, Toro Rosso, and Caterham.

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on NBCSN, NBC Sports App this week

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After five years and 98 Grands Prix broadcast since 2013, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Formula 1 concludes with the 2017 season finale from Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit this week.

The lights come on for the day-into-night Grand Prix of the year as the sun sets on five years of broadcasts, original content and additional digital specific features such as Paddock Pass.

For Abu Dhabi this week, all of the race, qualifying and second free practice will be live on NBCSN with first and third free practice live on the NBC Sports App. The race returns is back in the usual morning a.m. time slots after three mid-day races in Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, and a pair of overnight affairs in Kuala Lumpur and Suzuka. Formula 2 coverage of its season finale from Abu Dhabi also airs both on NBCSN and online.

With this the final race of the season before F1’s winter break, there’s still a handful of things to get sorted even though Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have wrapped their respective championships.

Sebastian Vettel (Brazil) and Max Verstappen (Mexico) have won the last two races, with Hamilton’s most recent win coming at Circuit of the Americas. Will it be any of these three that wrap the year on a high or could any of their teammates – Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo or Valtteri Bottas – upend the script?

Mercedes has won the last three races in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2016 with Nico Rosberg taking the 2015 crown.

Vettel and Hamilton have three wins apiece in Abu Dhabi, Vettel having taken all of his with Red Bull in 2009, 2010 and 2013, and Hamilton adding a 2011 McLaren triumph to his last two with Mercedes. Raikkonen (2012, Lotus) and Rosberg are the other Abu Dhabi winners, and while both Vettel and Raikkonen have won in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari never has in the first eight races here.

The last place up for grabs in the constructor’s battle is for sixth, with Toro Rosso (53 points), Renault (49) and Haas (47) separated by only six total points. Toro Rosso and Renault got into a nasty war of words in Brazil, and will part ways after the weekend.

Felipe Massa signs off his career in F1 for the second and expected final time at Williams, and with Toro Rosso having confirmed Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley last week, his seat is one of only three left to fill for 2018, and the most attractive.

McLaren and Honda also bring to an end their partnership after three troubled seasons, but on the bright side will look to score points for a third straight race together, which hasn’t happened since the Hungarian, German and Belgian Grands Prix of 2016.

As ever, and perhaps for the final time as a collective unit, Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be on the call with Will Buxton reporting from the pits and paddock.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Nov. 24, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Nov. 24, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-10:55 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)