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.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).