Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Practice

Renault still having problems in Canada

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Renault has held its hands up and admitted that the big gains which it expected to make at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix have not come about, meaning that the teams that it powers may again struggle in qualifying and the race.

So far this season, Renault’s power units have been down on power compared to those made by Mercedes and Ferrari. In winter testing, its teams – Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Caterham and Lotus – struggled immensely, and have since been trying to claw back the deficit.

Ahead of this weekend’s race, head of track operations Remi Taffin was confident that it would be “the first full opportunity to see where we are versus the competition”. However, when we spoke to Pastor Maldonado yesterday, he claimed that he was still losing as much as 10km/h heading along the straights.

“Today was a difficult day as predicted,” Taffin explained following practice on Friday. “We knew that the long straights would give us some headaches since the long periods of full throttle and emphasis on top speed do not play to the strengths of our power unit.

“We still have a gap to the Mercedes in front and we can see by the times that we are struggling for overall performance in this low downforce configuration.”

However, Taffin believes that Renault could make up some of the time to Mercedes through energy recovery and fuel saving, which will be crucial to succeeding at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday.

“We have however been able to get a lot of information on fuel consumption,” he said. “The race may demand more than the 100kg permitted fuel limit so making the best use of the recovered energy will be important in the race. We think we’ve got a good handle on it and will look to maximize this area to reduce the gap to the cars in front on Sunday.”

Renault’s poor start has been one of the big stories of 2014 so far, and it has certainly been a headache for Red Bull. The defending world champions already look likely to lose the constructors’ crown to Mercedes, which will come as a bitter blow given that the RB10 car is certainly quick through the corners.

At Renault, the hope must be that the big step forwards comes when F1 returns to Europe in Austria at the end of the month.

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.