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Russian Grand Prix gets five more years

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In the round-up: The Russian Grand Prix contract has been extended until 2025.

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Thoughts on testing so far from @Ninjenius:

Whilst only the second day of testing, the Ferrari does appear to be impressing the most. Of course we don’t know fuel loads but according to analysts/eye witnesses at the track the SF70H looks responsive and stable as well as quick and thus far reliable. We all know what happened after Ferrari’s ultimately-misleading 2016 pre-season performance, but I get the feeling this season will be their most competitive for a while.

Mercedes will most likely be carrying heavier fuel loads and Bottas was pushing the limits at various points during that race-sim, but it does appear to be more of a handful than the prancing horse. Still, I’d have my money on them for the Constructor’s crown, but they’re gonna have to work a hell of a lot harder for it this time round.

I’m most intrigued by Red Bull and what they have up their sleeves. The aero package they’ve tested thus far has been quite minimalist compared to their rivals thus far, and so I’d expect them to show their straight-flush at the final test or even Melbourne. Just a shame for them that that Renault engine is gonna hold them back (sorry to say).

As for McLaren-Honda… business as usual.

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  • 49 comments on “Russian Grand Prix gets five more years”

    1. The fact that Sauber, using last years Ferrari PU, are faster than MB-AMG through the speed trap suggests that speed trap velocity is not a useful guide to actual race performance.

      1. Suggests sandbagging from Mercedes and high fuel.

      2. ExcitedAbout17
        1st March 2017, 8:06

        But you knew that! 2017 is totally different to previous years. Simplistically, race performance will be: a lot more speed in corners and off the line, but less on the straights.
        Therefore, it is even more impressive that Sauber is beating it’s own 2016 top speed, even when discounting the development the Ferrari PU has made through 2016.

        1. Doesn’t that Show sauber failed horribly with their Aero? They produce so little downforce they beat their 2016 topspeed?

          1. ExcitedAbout17
            1st March 2017, 11:02

            That’s my fear as well.

      3. To me it shows that Sauber have far too little downforce. Mercedes aren’t gunning for highest top speed, but to go quick over the whole lap (and the race) @hohum. But off course it probably also shows the Mercs are running higher fuel and lower engine settings.

        1. @bascb, and the rest, yes, I expect that during the races MB will be setting proportionally higher top speeds than in the test and RBR will be the opposite, Sauber may well be hoping to capitalise on the straights (in the midfield) and try and be very wide in the twisty bits.

      4. Manor was often quick in the speed traps, likely just a sign of underdeveloped aero.

    2. So so glad Brawn is guiding f1. I think we could limit the wdc races to 18 and have many more non Wdc races in Indonesia, south Africa, new Zealand, USA, Macau, Argentina, abu Dubai, less serious , logistially stripped, no pit stops , could work… would be good TV.

      1. ExcitedAbout17
        1st March 2017, 8:09

        I would not be interested!
        I never go to pre season club friendlies*, and I never saw a national cricket game as they only played test matches when in town ;)

        * as I’m in town for F1, I’ll go to Camp Nou tonight for a real match.

    3. From the Autosport link on the FIA suspension warning:

      “Any system that changes how the car responds to body accelerations”

      …isn’t that the primary function of all suspension systems?

      This ordeal reminds me of the tuned mass damper ban after the FIA claimed it was a “moveable aerodynamic device”.

      The document does not really make anything clear, it rather leaves the window open for the FIA to ban anything they don’t like using a bogus excuse like they have done in the past.

      Maybe this is a contingency plan to stop the Mercedes domination, in case they prove too strong for the competition once again.

      1. Improving the tyre contact patch and aero pretty much go hand in hand, they could always argue that is the primary function, but yeah, the FIA may still come up with some loophole to try to stop one team from dominating, like they did with Renault and the mass damper in 2005. But that in itself is risky, the banning of FRIC in 2014 didn’t actually make Mercedes any weaker in 2014, there’s a chance that a championship contending team may be pulled further away from the one leading, thereby reducing the number of teams/drivers in the championship fight, and possibly robbing us of an interesting sporting competition.

    4. I have nothing but utter disbelief when it comes to Honda. Early days yet, but having potential fundamental design flaws in your engine is totally unacceptable at this level.

      This was supposed to be the year where they make the “Great Leap Forward”, but it looks quite the opposite. The Honda brand is being dragged through the mud here, and it must be a massive embarassment to their management in Japan.

      The situation that Honda find themselves in is a rather difficult one. They have already made the structural changes with respect to their management, so another change now would seem counter productive. I dont think money is an issue. Due to the structure of Honda Motorsport, they’re probably only second to Ferrari when it comes to development budgets.

      So what should they do? Perhaps they need to consult a 3rd party? This is something that Honda have been reluctant to do in the past, as they like to keep it all in house.

      Either way, somebody needs to act fast, this is getting ridiculous. Feels like we’re back in 2015 all over again.

      1. I had hopped for a more optimistic performance during testing. I guess part of the question that only Honda-McLaren can answer is how much of the currently perceived poor performance is actually poor performance and how much is “sand bagging”? We will find out when the lights go out at Melbourne.

      2. @jaymenon10 I get the disbelief that Honda are (probably) still lagging behind the competitors, and the argument that it shouldnt happen at this level. But there are no guarantees, and they may never actually get to the top of the tree.

        You have to remember that the engineering challenge is a huge one, and there’s no replacement for R&D. Honda might have the money, facilities, talented engineers, the best ideas etc.. but if they dont make the right choices/compromises with engine design then they’ll be behind Mercedes by some margin. Even with freedom to develop the engine over 2017, if they dont replicate or develop the technology that makes rival engines better (ie more power, greater reliability, lower weight, etc) then they’ll continue to be behind.

      3. People keep asking how long this can carry on before Alonso ups and leaves, but it’s starting to get to the stage where you have to start asking, how long before Honda decide to cut their losses and leave?

        1. Or Mclaren realises that being a Mercedes customer team might be less embarrassing than being a Honda works team.

    5. Re “A non-championship race would enable us to vary the format and try something different – and evolve it.”
      Ross has some interesting ideas. I was wondering about a non-Championship race this year as part of the pre-season testing to see if there was something to the myth that overtaking was going to be detrimentally affected by the new aerodynamic rules.
      I think Ross is right to not want to throw out the current race weekend format because there is a logic to it. In fact most of what he says is logical … and I guess that is part of the problem, finding a logical fix to F1’s most serious problems.

      1. @drycrust It’s a great feeling (particularly after the nonsense that used to come out of Ecclestone’s mouth when he spoke in public) to have somebody like Ross Brawn overseeing the sporting aspect of F1. I feel like it is finally in safe hands.

        I’m happy that he’s wary of changing the current format, mainly because I like it and feel that the format isn’t necessarily the reason that F1 isn’t attracting as many new fans as some would like. He alludes to why in the interview, it’s that more unpredictability is needed, greater potential for giant killings, more naturally talented maverick characters.

        The relaxing of the media restrictions was also reassuring, in that Liberty looked into it and took as much time as they needed to implement the change, in this instance, barely any time at all. This suggests they won’t mess around if something can be done quickly but Brawn is happy to take time when it’s needed. They seem to have their priorities right.

      2. That whole interview was a great watch imho.

    6. “Only the faithful would back Sebastian Vettel at 18.0 for the title”

      I can’t find him better than 11 now :( Even at that price given their testing so far I think it’s worth a tenner.

      1. I was just saying that to my wife a few moments ago.

    7. A non-championship race with a different format? Now there’s an interesting idea! If we would have a season of pure, gimmick-free championship races with the occasional gimmicky, just-for-fun, non-championship event, I think that would be great. I’d be happy to see reverse grids or a multi-race format if it was just on a fun occasion where drivers could just let their hair down and not worry about the bigger picture.

      1. Perhaps we could have a new talent weekendand let the development and reserver drivers race.

      2. @jackysteeg
        It could give new circuits the opportunity to host an F1-lite event as preperation for hosting a full GP weekend. And help alleviate the boredom at some of the less popular circuits.
        Maybe have an F1 only event over just two days, Saturday as rookie day with development program drivers, give them practice and qualifying – fastest driver gets pole in the first of two races, grid for 2nd race being the reverse finishing positions from race one. The regular drivers would then be free to do autograph sessions, fan forums and the like.
        Sunday with the regular drivers, practice in the morning, followed by two races. The first starting in reverse championship order, the second in reverse finishing positions.

        I suppose the only risk is that if you start having one off non-championship events with different formats, they could become more popular than the GPs. Although that could turn out to be good, there could be two F1 championships, one for GPs at great circuits like Spa and Suzuka, and an alternative F1 championship with a variety of formats held on the not so great circuits *. A bit like Test and One Day cricket. I think I’d quite like a regular season of 15 GPs, all held at the best rated circuits, with 10 alternative events for the likes of * that help overcome the inherent boredom of their races, or give somewhere new a chance to host F1. 20+ weekends is getting to be quite a long haul, 15 plus another 10 that I could dip in and out of would result in much less moaning from my better half, and make GPs feel special again.

        *insert circuit bitch list here

        1. Regarding non-championship races, how about organizing kart races on Friday before the Grand Prix?

          Venues like Spa have such facilities and it shouldn’t be too expensive to organize.

          Drivers could swap karts once or twice during the race to even the playing field as there are always little differences between chassis.

          Maybe organize a race with amateurs before and the top 3 could enter the official race and wrestle with F1 drivers.

          I remember the 1993 kart race in Bercy with the likes of Prost, Senna, Panis, … that was amazing.

          1. How about running a Porsche Super Cup championship with the F1 drivers in them as a support race?

            All F1 drivers in equal Porsche 911 GT3 cars competing in 20 rounds. Have 2 F1 practice sessions on friday, qualy on saturday for both f1 and the Porsche super cup. Sunday morning a 40 minute race before the F1 GP. Could be fun to watch imho.

    8. Ted Kravitz interview with Ross Brawn is brilliant

    9. After my “boring season” comment yesterday, I may need to revise.

      The descrptions of the handling of Ferrari (as well as good lap times) and Red Bull not showing any aero development until they have to means I am far less pessimistic about the season.

      As for Honda, how many test tracks do they own? And they still cannot sort these issues before they roll up to Barcelona with the world watching on.

      1. Honda owns Suzuka. They should stick their engine in a modified McLaren 2014 car (FIA only allows testing with cars 2 years and older) and test it on track non stop untill they get it right.

    10. Ferrari did the fastest lap times in 2016 preseason testing as well. And we all know how well the season was for them.

      1. Agree. I wouldn’t use pre season as a guarantee that Ferrari can fight for wins. However, they did set their fastest time on the harder compound and track observers said that the Ferrari did look like a lesser handful as compared to Mercedes. But then again, Mercedes has that 1 secret one second that gets revealed in Q3 at Melbourne.

        1. ExcitedAbout17
          1st March 2017, 8:19

          In they article it says:
          “However, team boss Sergio Marchionne has now revealed that the car may not be as good as they had hoped.”

        2. I think mercedes has been running quite a bit of fuel too though.

    11. “Someone has suggested that if a team is winning then they should have their development frozen until the rest catch up. The fans will just see straight through it and become disillusioned.”

      I completely agree with Brawn, but for all the times MotoGP has been bigged up on here it ought to be noted that this is basically what they do to keep close competition.

      On a different note, here are some links to various YouTube videos of the testing, they are quite good.

      1. Tnx for those links @strontium great vids

      2. That’s not how motogp works though. Concessions (more engines, testing etc) are available for new teams to let them maintain development and get them up to speed. However, once they achieve a set number of wins/rostrum places, the concessions are withdrawn. Suzuki have lost their concessions for this year as they reached the set number.
        For the last 5 or 6 years the vast majority of races have been won by either factory Hondas or Yamahas but they have no penalties for doing so. They operate on exactly the same basis as Suzuki this year, who only returned 3 years ago.
        Honda and Yamaha were disadvantaged when the standard software was introduced as they had very sophisticated (and expensive) bespoke software, but then all teams had to use the same standard software and yet factory Hondas/Yamahas still win the majority of races. That may be more because they have the best riders though, rather than through vastly superior machinery.

    12. ExcitedAbout17
      1st March 2017, 8:16

      How do you test double points in a non-championship race :p
      (glad BE is gone)

      1. Some ideas are so utterly stupid, they don’t need testing at all.

        1. @jeffreyj Indeed. It drove me up the wall seeing people saying “give it a chance”. There are some ideas that are so utterly wrong they don’t need to be tested.

    13. I’m so glad that non-championship race is in consideration.
      I just hope that Liberty will consider scaling down number of championship races (to e.g. 16) and then add another 6 or 7 non-championship races.
      Then they can play with weekend and race formats, combine testing with racing, maybe even try out three cars teams…

    14. I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the news that Russia got a contract to run until 2025.
      But Brawns idea about non championship races are good, they may become serious testing weekends for the teams. That may be a good thing but if that isn’t the purpose it would need some clever management to stop teams from doing just that.

      1. Yep, ‘Russia extends contract’ news has gone unmentioned until your comment, just shows how excited everyone is by that news. I am underwhelmed.

    15. In reference to non-championship rounds on the calendar, whilst I think it could be a very good idea to test out new race formats, giving new drivers time in the cars, and all round experimentation, I think you also have to be very careful.

      Was it the 2010 Canadian GP? One of the most exciting races because of how the tyres reacted to the track surface, creating a vast difference in strategies and increased need for multiple pit stops. As a one off, this was seen as great, and suddenly it was in demand, leading to the Pirelli era of quick degrading tyres.

      So although these one-offs could cause some excitement and inject more interest in the sport, it has to be carefully considered as to whether it would be worth changing things long term, lest we end up with another 6 years of a Formula One that many got fed up with in much less than half that time.

      1. Too tight @jamiefranklinf1. It’s preppie with thinking like yours that need to be involved in shaping F1. Have you applied?

        1. @3dom – Haha, thank you! Whilst it would fulfill a life long dream, I wouldn’t even be sure how to apply, let alone be accepted!

    16. My initial interpretation of the headline “Russian Grand Prix gets five more years” was that it had been handed an extended prison sentence. It should have read “F1 sentenced to five more years in Russia”.

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