Renault director: We’re aiming for at least five F1 wins in 2015

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Despite suffering from major reliability and pace problems at the start of the 2014 season, Formula One engine manufacturer Renault claimed three Grand Prix wins last year – all from Red Bull Racing and its Australian pilot, Daniel Ricciardo.

Obviously, Renault would like to come out of the gate much better in 2015 and also close down its horsepower gap to the Mercedes-powered teams.

As Lotus has gone to Mercedes power and Caterham is still fighting for its place on the grid, Renault will only supply Red Bull (with drivers Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat) and its junior team, Scuderia Toro Rosso (Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen).

Time will tell if the narrowed focus will lead to better performance on the track for Renault. But its managing director, Cyril Abiteboul, made it clear in a recent interview with a French TV network that he expects just that.

“We estimate that our gap to Mercedes at the end of the 2014 season was about 60 horsepower,” Abiteboul told Canal+. “We hope to close this gap by half at the [season-opening Australian Grand Prix] in Melbourne.

“Unlike Mercedes, we will start the 2015 season with the 2015 version of our engine. To date, we have used about two-thirds of allowed [32] tokens to change our engine this year.

“My goal is to claim at least five wins this season.”

Abiteboul also discussed recent momentum behind the idea of upping the horsepower of F1 engines, which he endorses – as long as the price tag of such a change is not too large.

“Renault will not object to the idea of [F1 supremo] Bernie Ecclestone, to make engines more powerful, and to make more sound, [so long as] costs remain under control,” he said.

“The idea is attractive, but it seems that it is already too late [for] 2016. 2017, however, is ideal timing.”

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. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR 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 would seem right for 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 — to spend 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).