Rivals have made “massive steps” – Sainz

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In the round-up: Carlos Sainz Jnr believes Toro Rosso’s rivals have made major progress during the off-season.

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I’ve watched St Pete, Long Beach and Toronto every year since the split. Don’t really care for ovals, but neither do many former fans, it’s just an outdated style of racing.

I enjoy the races, it is fantastically close and the car allows some close quarters racing. The problem has been famously with Race Control but that has improved in the last couple seasons immensely.

They still have a seriously short season, staying out of the headlines for much more than a third of the year, and it’s not like they need the break to develop a new chassis or anything like that. There have been rumblings about a one maybe two overseas exhibition races early in the year but nothing likely comes out of those before 2020.

I’d love to see Surfers Paradise back, even if the track they used is no longer possible.

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On this day in F1

Dan Gurney won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch on this day 50 years ago.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “Rivals have made “massive steps” – Sainz”

  1. COTD – I personally love the ovals & know a lot of indycar fans that do, I think the ovals have provided some of the best bits of racing action the past couple years, especially now that there no longer flat out all the way round as many were in the irl days.

    TBH if indycar was ever to ditch ovals it would be a bit of a turn off to me as the diversity of styles of circuits is a big part of the draw of it for me, if it was just road/street tracks it would be like pretty much everything else & have nothing really special or interesting about it that helped make it stand out from other series such as F1.
    i recall back to when champcar abandoned ovals i actually stopped following it as closely & starting watching the irl more, i wasn’t fond of the pack racing the irl had back then but i loved the tracks that didn’t feature the pack racing, the shorter ovals like milwaukee especially. i think champcar lost a lot of its identity & soul when it became all road/street, it was basically f1 lite but less interesting as it had turned into a spec formula by then.

    1. I really like the contrast from ovals to normal tracks. Variety is great.

      1. Yeah I agree, oval racing is great in its own right and places much greater value on strategy and politics, it’s a different game to road racing but still a good one.

    2. I went to the London Champ Car Trophy at Brands Hatch in 2003. It was so dull cos they held it around the Indy track. I forget how many laps it was, maybe 170 plus? I don’t remember much overtaking at all. If they did hold a Champ Car race outside America why not Silverstone?

      I haven’t seen a CC race for a few years now. I wish they would do a Now TV type deal like the F1 races because with BT sport I don’t wish to pay £30+ per month just to watch one or two races..

      1. You haven’t seen a CC champcar race, because champcar hasn’t existed for a decade. I also remember the brands hatch race, why didn’t they use the full cercuit? That was the problem, they ran the mini track, with no overtaking possible. American open wheelers are such great series, but they have often shot themselves in the foot when going international, except for the great Indy on gold coast Australian race weekends, they were legendary- as big as the Australian f1 grand Prix . I remember as a kid growing up turning the TV on, I thought it was an f1 race, so much focus on the Indy gold coast race on free to air Australian tv – it was a true ‘grand prix’ – the Indy race at gold coast in 1990s was as big as the Aus GP in Adelaide and Melbourne, or bigger.

    3. I like the variation of ovals to normal tracks in Indycar as well – however I think safety issues seriously needs to be addressed for open-wheelers on ovals. I’m against halos/canopies for F1 (additional egress time, ability to limit head-height risks on a modern F1/FIA circuit) but maybe Indycar should be the first to move forward with the idea, even if just for the ovals?

  2. What’s interesting is going into this testing nobody had expected Ferrari or Williams to be anywhere.

    Force India are aiming to stay at the front of the midfield, while Toro Rosso have a current engine and are probably aiming higher (although new regulations aren’t known to be their strength), Renault are aiming to claw their way up / forward, and Williams are aiming to be fast and competitive near the front again. However, the end result will produce an order of some sort, so it will be very interesting to see who actually meets these aims, because they can’t all do so. I’m hoping this means there will be a competitive midfield.

    1. There isn’t any reason why a Suderia Toro Rosso driver can’t be fighting for podium places with a Red Bull Racing driver. Last year STR were using a Ferrari 2015 spec engine, which would have meant there was some sort of power deficit that, as the season progressed, progressively became proportionally worse compared to the front running teams, so it was always going to be a season where there was little chance of a high points finish. This year they are using a current season specification engine and hybrid system that will hopefully see upgrades during the season, so I think they have every right to be optimistic.
      As a thought, I think the improvements in they hybrid system will becoming increasingly important over the next few seasons.

  3. I can’t wait for Melbourne to be honest. Is Ferrari’s pace real? Indications seem so.
    Does Mercedes have a trump card up their sleeve? I am inclined to think may be not. No time in the last three years have they felt the need to run the softest tyres available in testing, except now. Clearly, there is something..
    What exactly will Red Bull aero package look like. The car looks suspiciously clean.
    Can McLaren do a 2011? Unreliable and horrible testing but fantastic races.

    And so many other questions.. Can’t wait at all..

    1. I think they are obliged to run it as these are the new type of tyres, supposedly different to the Pirellis we’re used to.

    2. @sumedh
      1. Ferrari pace real – Could be but dont get excited as they have over deliver in testing only to under deliver in races so cautious optimism instead of heavy optimism
      2. Merc trump card – They have one which is called their usual pace, they just had to run all tires because they have to learn how it reacts with the car as the tire width is changed which makes things a bit tricky to understand
      3. RBR package – Dont expect the package to look like merc or Ferrari but they will have substantial pace difference from testing and might be in the hunt of mercs from Australia
      4. Mcalren – I doubt they can but i hope they can because it depends on Honda rather than Mclaren , although they both need improvements
      Over all I hope we have a good season but i doubt either of Ferrari or Redbull can fight with Merc they are looking like ahead again

    3. ExcitedAbout17
      12th March 2017, 10:49

      Let’s not forget last year: Ferrari leading the test 1-2; Mercedes leading Melbourne Quali 1-2!

      compared to Ferrari (relative times from 2016 test to 2016 Melbourne):
      Mercedes found an extra 1.1sec;
      Yes Ferrari looked good the last 2 weeks, but don’t count the silver cars out yet.

      PS all the others lost relative to Ferrari:
      Red Bull -0.1sec; Toro Rosso -0.3sec; Williams -0.4sec, and Force India -0.7sec;
      Also Renault -1.8sec, McLaren -1.0sec, Sauber -0.8sec, Haas -1.1sec. But those teams did not get beyond the joker quali part!

      1. Last year was totally different. Mercedes only ran medium tyres in testing, and were faster than others on mediums. This year Ferrari was fastest on mediums, and mercedes driver interviews are less confident.

        1. ExcitedAbout17
          12th March 2017, 19:06

          Mercedes’ fastest testing time (2016) was set on Softs!

          1. If you look at only the fastest lap. Mercedes did most of their running on mediums and it was established that they had an advantage. The consensus was that Ferrari slashed the deficit from 2015.

            If they had been good with their strategy, they could have got a couple of wins as well. Of course, Mercedes introduced a host of updates to their car and engine midway to the season and put Ferrari out of contention.

            All will be answered in a couple of weeks time.

    4. Unfortunately for McLaren I fear this year will be worse than last year. Hasegawa indicated he was ‘scared’ by the progress of rivals …

    5. Sumedh, at the moment, it seems to depend whom you ask – at the moment, James Allen is suggesting that Ferrari might be quicker than Mercedes, with Red Bull’s car having a very narrow operating window (looking more competitive on the soft tyre, but struggling for performance on the medium tyres). However, when the same question has been put to Christian Horner, he thinks that whilst Ferrari have a competitive car this season, he thinks that Mercedes still start this season as the favourites.

      The other question is whether the drivers really can maximise the performance of the cars – there appears to be a suggestion in some quarters that the teams have been caught out by the fact that the drivers are spending more time on full throttle around the track, and therefore fuel consumption is higher than expected.
      Even though they have increased the fuel allowance for this season, the teams are liable to be more marginal on fuel than in the past – if so, then the efficiency of the engine and energy recovery systems could be more critical than the maximum outright performance (i.e. how fast can you afford to go, rather than how fast could you go without having to worry about fuel).

  4. Have renault made a step back on reliability? We keep criticizing Honda, but sometimes I imagine if renault were supplying just one team how good would they be? I imagine not very good

    1. As Taffin mentioned, even there power unit is 90% new. It was obvious that even they would have teething problems in pre season testing, but on the positive note, all the Renault teams have said the performance is an improvement. Unlike Honda, Renault have also identified the problems with their power unit and are already in the process of fixing them for Melbourne. I think they would make a step forward this season, and since it’s a new design, there would be more potential to unlock from it as well.

      Honda…. is still trying to figure out what went wrong on Stoffel’s car on day 2 of the 1st test.

      1. ExcitedAbout17
        12th March 2017, 11:01

        Honda…. is still trying to figure out what went wrong on Stoffel’s car on day 2 of the 1st test.

        They think it is the carburettor, but can’t find it :p

        Real story: My second car was a 2CV. One day it didn’t start. I opened the bonnet and couldn’t find the engine! The engine bay seemed to only have a horizontal axle low down. Upon closer inspection that axle was the engine (2 horizontal cylinders) ;)

    2. not really renault has teething problem with their lay out they can improve it lot better as they said they are likely to bring 0.2 tenths of improvement from engine side by melbourne and 0.3 by spain. Note they might not bring that or we may not see that but they can improve it through out the season and be on par against the Merc power unit or be respective enough to make a battle with rbr.
      Honda on the other hand though they are likely to improve their current situation but the question is not how much or how long but will their efforts be enough to catch the renault at testing level as Honda is way far behind now

    3. Agree with your comments. But even still, the rumour is that Ferrari also did a redesign and they at least kept or even seem to have improved in readability as well.

      Nevertheless, the key for Honda to be competitive might as well be supplying another team, maybe a newcomer that cannot get any other engine

  5. Thanks @keithcollantine, COTD appreciated.

    Ovals were the genesis of openwheel in the US, but the sight of 20 000 fans in Milwaukee in 2015 and the subsequent end to over 100 years of racing on that venue just says it all, and the other ovals are not doing any better.

  6. Ferrari and Rebdull seem to have the most ground breaking aero this year, Ferrari with their astoundingly high sidepod intakes, i.e. a completely new aero philosophy, and Redbull with their ‘bullet’ tight chassis shape. Redbull worked start in testing, not putting any aero flaps on – and not seeking lap times – as to validated their new unique chassis, yet they were fast with limited flaps and bargeboards. aero addons will now come every race. Mercedes have stayed conservative, relying on their last 2 years chassis/aero, and are already behind and will have to rely on their massive power to stay ahead of Ferrari And redbull. Will be an interesting start to the year.

    1. kpcart, your upbeat assessment of Red Bull’s performance doesn’t seem to match with any of the public statements that either the drivers or the senior management have come out with.

      Both Ricciardo and Verstappen have mentioned that they’ve been struggling quite a bit with getting the car set up correctly – Ricciardo stated that the team were “a bit confused” on how to set the car up, whilst Max has made similar comments about the team struggling a bit to unlock the performance from the car that they think is there. You say that they have been fast, but a number of observers have said that they seem to be off the pace when running the medium tyre (when both Verstappen and Ricciardo have been on track at the same time as Vettel or Kimi when running race simulations on the medium tyre, Red Bull were consistently slower), which is why Ricciardo has also plainly stated that he believes that both Ferrari and Mercedes are faster than they are at the moment.

      Now, it is true that the team could be intentionally downplaying their potential performance, but they’ve not had a great time in pre-season testing – they have fallen short of their mileage targets due to mechanical issues (over 600km less than last year) – and there have also been a few questions over whether they in fact have no intention to put as many aero flaps as you think might be coming as they might be trying to compensate for a potential power deficit by shifting towards a lower drag configuration at the expense of some downforce. They could bolt on a major upgrade package in Melbourne and surprise us, but personally I don’t think that they are in as quite a comfortable position as you think that they are.

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