Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Interlagos, 2017

Can Haas capitalise on Renault’s woes? Five Abu Dhabi talking points

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Problems for Renault could give Haas a chance to cause an upset in the constructors’ championship.

Also this weekend McLaren and Honda finally separate after three disastrous seasons. Here’s the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix talking points.

Renault’s woes

Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, Interlagos, 2017
Renault reliability is a sore point for Toro Rosso
It’s no secret Renault is struggling to make it to the end of the season with its supply of power unit parts. Tensions have run high with Toro Rosso, their customer team which has borne the brunt of recent breakdowns. So much so that power unit faults have forced Brendon Hartley out of two of his three starts so far, and given him grid penalties for every one of his races.

Toro Rosso even made a thinly-veiled but explosive insinuation that Renault brought about its recent problems in the hope of overtaking them for sixth in the championship. Red Bull calmed the row between the two, who will go their separate ways after this weekend’s race. Nonetheless Red Bull, who will remain Renault customers next year, have also suffered from the recent failures. Daniel Ricciardo has been hit especially hard and engine life will be a worry for him in Abu Dhabi.

A big chance for Haas

With Toro Rosso and Renault hobbled, Haas has a huge opportunity to pass the pair of them in the constructors’ championship. The trio are covered by just six points.

Haas had a decent showing in Abu Dhabi last year, though their cars were the first two home outside the points. The team will be anxious to see both their drivers avoid a repeat of the first-lap collisions which wrecked their race in Brazil.

The final score

The championship is already Hamilton’s, but had it not been for one costly collision the fight could still be on. Now the title is gone Vettel is unlikely to take any consolation from the score line. But how the final points tally adds up will inevitably colour our view of how close Vettel came to beating Hamilton this year.

With one race left the score is Hamilton 345, Vettel 302. Will Vettel end the year back within striking distance, wishing there was just one more race? Or is Hamilton going to end his championship year in style with his tenth victory of the season (one which would give him the same points haul as last year)?

McLaren and Honda divorce

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/1X1, Yas Marina, 2014
McLaren and Honda’s partnership began badly
Three years ago McLaren wheeled out their MP4-29H/1X1 for the post-season test at Yas Marina to run an early development of Honda’s first F1 engine for the V6 hybrid turbo regulations. But the troubled test, in which Stoffel Vandoorne covered just five laps in two days, set a tone for the huge disappointment which followed.

The relationship has finally fractured. Racing director Eric Boullier said the team will embark on its final race with Honda with “optimism and respect”.

“Every single person has worked incredibly hard over the past three years and remained committed through the highs and lows we’ve experienced together until the very last race.”

Massa out, Kubica in?

The popularity of stories about Robert Kubica making a return to Formula One can be gauged by the fact Williams have issued multiple denials that they have done a deal with the 32-year-old. They have, however, indicated Kubica will test for them during next week’s two-day post-season run at the track.

Felipe Massa is poised to bow out of Formula One once again. His fine drive in Brazil would have been a fitting conclusion but he’s had good results at this track in the past, notably in 2014.

Are you going to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

Fans, Yas Marina, 2016
Are you going to the season finale?
If you’re heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

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Author information

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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13 comments on “Can Haas capitalise on Renault’s woes? Five Abu Dhabi talking points”

  1. If Renault don’t get 6th… They should be comfortably ahead of Williams in 5th if not for their terrible reliability, even with Palmer in the car for a good while.

    1. Had Renault committed to buying the Enstone team early or in the middle of the year, as might normally be expected to be the case with a new works setup, one would consider the following season their transition year. Having made the call so late in 2015 though, far too late to have any real influence on 2016’s car, perhaps 2017 should be considered their transition year and judement reserved for 2018.

    2. Williams should have been fighting with FI for 4th. They had a faster car for alot of the year. Unfortunately, they didn’t have drivers or strategists as good.

      1. Seriously ? They might had a faster car during first quarter of the season but not after that but agree on the drivers and strategies.

  2. he’s had good results at this track in the past, notably in 2002

    Is that supposed to say 2014, @keithcollantine ?

  3. Crazy idea here, but maybe the works teams should all go away. Then we wouldn’t have all this nonsense about engine manufacturers sabotaging other customers for their own team’s benefit.

    No “strat mode 7” calls where Mercedes gives Lotus permission to use a secret setting to hold off rivals….
    No Ferrari claims to ridiculous cash rewards so they can continue to be a mediocre team…. (if that extra cash is so important, why aren’t they dominating? All it does is keep Ferrari out of the midfield where teams with much less cash manage to be.)
    No teams getting last year’s engine to keep the works team ahead….

    What would be the downside?

    1. I like works teams and I would not like to see them go away. I would, however, love to see parity in power units supplied to the customers. That said, engine software modes (like you mentioned), the fuel used, even the packaging of the engine in the chassis affects the amount of power these “power units” can produce.

      One thing I’ve been pondering lately (and I’m hoping someone can point me to a time in history or a racing series where this has been tried) is an engine manufacturers championship. The idea is where the current prize money is split up based on Column A being the top 10 teams in the last 2-3 seasons and Column B being the constructors championship standing, there could be a bonus or a 3rd column for engine suppliers. The goal is attracting more engine manufacturers to F1, and regardless of the individual contracts the engine manufacturers have with the teams they supply this is a payout by F1 based on the points scored by the teams running their engine.

      It might be a crazy idea, it might have been done in the past and failed (I don’t recall) but I would like to see the TAG, Cosworth, and Mugens of the world competing in F1 again.

      1. Professor Piehead
        22nd November 2017, 14:39

        If I were Mercedes I’d be tempted to take advantage of an engine manufacturers championship by selling engine supply deals at a loss to as many teams as possible. If the prize is big enough to have any influence over another manufacturer’s decision to enter F1, it’s big enough to cover my losses.

      2. I thought Indycar does this, although it doesn’t have works teams per se.

    2. Professor Piehead
      22nd November 2017, 14:45

      Sauber have last year’s Ferrari power unit because they specifically asked for it, gambling that they’d get a few points scoring opportunities early in the season due to other teams having reliability issues with their new power units. Haas have current Ferrari power units. No conspiracy here.

    3. @zapski, the thing is, I have to question whether Matthew Carter really understood what he was talking about when he made those claims.

      He has no experience or technical expertise at all in mechanical or automotive engineering, or even in any related field of expertise, and had never worked in motorsport or the wider automotive sector before he joined Lotus. He is a private equity specialist and seems to have got the job because his company was owned by the main investor in Genii Capital, which owned Lotus at the time.

      Even when he was the CEO of Lotus, he had no involvement in the technical operations of the team – his role focussed on the commercial operations of the team (and, to be honest, that lack of technical knowledge does show through in some of the comments he was making). With that lack of technical knowledge and the non-technical role he had at the team, I have to question how reliable his comments truly are.

    4. The problem with that is how would avoid the situation where the engine is made by Fiat and the team is called Ferrari, or Daimler make the engine and Mercedes is the name of the team, or Infiniti make the engine and the team is called Renault? It would be obvious to everyone that Ferrari, Mercedes, and Renault are getting their engines from a subsidiary owned by the same parent company.

  4. I would like to see Haas improve their standing this year. Especially since as a private team needs all the prize money they can get.

    Also…Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it.

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