Getty Images

Renault planning ‘fast, strong measures’ after Mexico engine issues

Leave a comment

Renault is planning “fast, strong measures” to respond to the string of Formula 1 power unit failures it suffered over the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, according to the manufacturer’s sporting chief, Cyril Abiteboul.

High-altitude conditions in Mexico City placed a greater strain on Renault’s engine components, resulting in issues for the teams powered by the French marque through practice, qualifying and the race.

Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso and Renault works driver Nico Hulkenberg were all forced to retire in Mexico due to power unit problems, leaving the Red Bull pit wall uneasy as Max Verstappen pushed hard in the lead.

While Verstappen was able to pick up his second win of the season, Renault took little heart from the result in light of the failures, forcing it into a quick response ahead of next weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

“For its part, the Mexican Grand Prix was particularly difficult with a number of unacceptable mechanical problems, and we have the clear intention to take fast and strong measures,” Abiteboul said.

“The particularities of Mexico accentuated our weaknesses, but clearly we have not been successful in balancing performance and reliability.

“The performance of our engine has progressed a lot this year as the results in qualifying and in the race attest; we now have to find reliability, for both us and our customers, even if Max won magnificently in Mexico.”

IndyCar’s Vasser-Sullivan expand into IMSA for 2019

James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo IndyCar
Leave a comment

Not even one year after returning to the IndyCar ranks, Vasser-Sullivan Racing is taking AIM at the IMSA world, you might say.

While team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan will continue to partner with Dale Coyne Racing on the IndyCar side, they expanded their holdings Tuesday, announcing a partnership with AIM Autosport to campaign a new two-car Lexus-backed RC F GT3 effort in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.

The new team – named AIM Vasser-Sullivan – will replace 3GT Racing, which was part of Lexus’ sports car program launch in 2016. It will announce its two drivers in the coming weeks, the team said.

“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” Vasser said in a media release. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the 24 Hours of Daytona, including a ‘class’ win in 1992 and second overall in 2008.

“The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, with the support of Lexus and our sponsors, has the tools to get the job done and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”

Lexus has made significant progress in its first two seasons in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, having earned a combined two race wins, five poles and finished third in the 2018 GTD Manufacturer point standings.

Vasser and Sullivan were part of the ownership group of KVSH Racing in IndyCar from 2011 through 2016 before the organization folded.

They also owned Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500-winning car.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Vasser, a former CART champion, and Sullivan rejoined forces this past February, just before the start of the 2018 IndyCar season, partnering with Coyne to form a satellite team led by driver Sebastien Bourdais, who previously drove for KVSH.

Bourdais kicked off the new team’s effort with a win in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished seventh in the overall season standings.

AIM Vasser Sullivan will have two home bases for its IMSA program: AIM’s current facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as a new U.S. shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Follow @JerryBonkowski