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Renault delays major engine upgrade until 2018

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Renault expects to roll out a series of gradual enhancements to its power unit over the course of this year, rather than a major upgrade as was introduced last year, according to Renault Sport Racing Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul.

Abiteboul told the official Formula 1 website during this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix that no major step in performance upgrade would be rolled out in 2017.

Instead, he said Red Bull Racing was the one that had suggested a major upgrade would come at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku next race.

“Last year we created a huge expectation and we came with an upgrade that had a big impact. But we can’t repeat that every year,” Abiteboul told the F1 website.

“Frankly the next big upgrade will be next year. Then we will have a completely new concept. That will make a difference – but as I said 2018.”

In spite of the power gap to the Mercedes and Ferrari units, Renault has made it onto the podium each of the last three races with Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull – albeit aided a bit by some key retirements at both Spain and Canada and with both Mercedes (Monaco) and Ferrari (Canada) having relative off weekends.

The Renault factory team has improved this season, with Nico Hulkenberg’s fourth score of the season Sunday in Canada already moving the team ahead of its entire number of races scored last year. Between Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, that pairing scored in only three races for a total of eight points.

Hulkenberg now has four scores, and all 18 of Renault’s points for the season. Rumors surfaced over the weekend and were relayed during the NBCSN broadcast that Palmer’s place in the team may be under threat before the end of the year. The Englishman’s endured a difficult sophomore season and is yet to score in seven races.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.