Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Suzuka, 2023

Alfa Romeo unsure if upgrade solved tyre warm-up problems as rivals close in

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In the round-up: Alfa Romeo are hoping their recent car upgrade has solved the problems they encountered with tyre warm-up as the team faces growing pressure in the constructors championship.

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In brief

Tyre warm-up questions remain for Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo are one place from the bottom of the constructors’ standings having dropped two positions in the past eight rounds. With AlphaTauri bringing an upgrade for their car recently and Haas planning a major revision for their VF-23 at the United States Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo are facing increasingly tough competition to avoid ending the season in last place.

While the team which finished sixth in the standings last year has brought a step for its C43 recently, following the warm temperatures seen in Singapore and Japan they are not sure yet whether it improved their tyre warm-up problems in cooler conditions.

“The difficulty for us was more with changeable conditions or a drying track,” head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar explained. “Once we have these kind of conditions and we achieve a good result, then [we’ll] know if everything is sorted or not.

“At the moment we’re working and think that we are learning and we’re getting ready for such conditions. But we need to wait until we get the conditions like these, [discover whether] we can capitalise the results, and then we can say ‘yes’ or not.”

Red Bull’s prospects for 2024 are “scary” – Brown

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown admits he is fearful of how competitive Red Bull may be next year. The team has dominated the 2023 championship since the early stages, allowing it to focus on developing its new car for next year sooner.

“I would imagine, given Red Bull’s dominance, they turned off their development quicker than others to focus on next year’s cars,” Brown told Sky. “So that’s a bit scary, what might be coming.

“The rest of us are continuing to chase, but the rules are pretty stable so I think everything that we’re learning now will apply to next year’s car. I think all the men and women at McLaren are doing a great job and now it’s an efficiency game that before you produce, you better be confident what you’ve designed is working and that’s what’s happening.”

Newey reveals Renault frustration

Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey said one of the most depressing times in his carer occured when he realised their power unit supplier Renault was unwilling to invest in becoming more competitive with champions Mercedes at the end of 2014. That came in a meeting involving him, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko.

“I really didn’t want to leave, but we were in this position where Renault hadn’t produced a competitive engine in the turbo hybrid engine,” he told the official F1 website. “[If] that happens in the first year, okay, it’s new rules, we all make mistakes.

“But went to see Carlos Ghosn, then boss of Renault as it is a Christian, Helmut myself to kind of try to put pressure on him to the budget and basically ask how can you free more resource. So Viry, the engine division can can accelerate their programme because they are all understandably saying that they were resource limited and they needed more people and more money.

“Ghosn’s reply was ‘well, I have no interest in Formula 1, I’m only in it because my marketing people say I should be’. And that was such a depressing place to be.”

Newey was certain none of their rivals would allow them to use their engines as customers. “We knew Mercedes wouldn’t give us an engine. Ferrari had a great engine, but we’d used Ferraris initially and I’d taken away us away from Ferrari in the first year to Renault because I believed, rightly or wrongly, that if you’re in a championship battle, Ferrari would never give us equal equipment.

“So we were stuck with Renault ready for some huge amount of time looking forward since the future. And so being in the position where it looked like we couldn’t be properly competitive in any visible points in the future, it was just a very dark tunnel to be in.”

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Comment of the day

Despite Fernando Alonso’s complaints, Jimmy Cliff disagrees that F1’s qualifying format needs to be changed:

The current qualifying system is perfect – it is entertaining to watch and provides equal opportunities with option to wait last minute with traffic or go earlier with no traffic.

Also the three separate sessions make it more exciting than just 1 hour long free for all.

So please, please do not change anything – also not continue with the mandatory hard-medium-soft usage of tyres.

Three one-hour practice sessions, qualifying and then main race. Get rid of sprint and point for fastest lap.
Jimmy Cliff

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12 comments on “Alfa Romeo unsure if upgrade solved tyre warm-up problems as rivals close in”

  1. One lap qualifying isn’t coming back as outside of a few drivers it’s not a format that has any real support from anybody within F1.

    Some from Liberty pushed for it as the format to decide the grid for the sprint races earlier this year but it ultimately had no support from anybody else and was therefore rejected.

    Broadcasters are dead against it as the format is generally regarded as been less exciting and producing less of a spectacle for them to try and sell to viewers.

    I was also told that single lap sessions from the 2003-2005 period have been shown in full to some of the focus groups that F1 and some broadcasters have been conducting periodically and that the feedback was overwhelming negative.

    Another little note regarding those focus groups is that i gather that a part of the reason a lot of those AWS predictive graphics that we saw a lot of a few years ago have gone away is because the feedback from some of these focus groups as well as other sources they are pulling feedback from was very negative on those as well.

    1. I haven’t noticed the absence of AWS predictive graphics, but the single-lap format has indeed never really had any true support.

      1. I guess the fact that you haven’t noticed them disappearing really shows how little interest they had from viewers @jerejj!

        Thanks for the ever insightful posts @gt-racer. I really like the clear thinking – they know it was super tedious to watch (I remember getting up for one of those for a race like Australia or Japan and thinking whether to actually bother getting up for these sessions back in the day) and really annoying as soon as something disrupted a run for a top runner or rain mid through made a farce of it.

        I am glad to see that they have focus groups giving decent feedback. In Bernies time he would have just decided to change stuff and then fight changing them back for the better.

  2. Interesting comments from Neway. Makes sense changing from Ferrari – there were a lot of deals for year old engines in the past. It feels like the Renault/Alpine attitude to F1 hasn’t evolved much since then. It’s a shame Honda bailed in on their F1 project when they did as RB and Honda made a great combo. I can’t imagine either will be as happy with their next partners.

  3. “Ghosn’s reply was ‘well, I have no interest in Formula 1, I’m only in it because my marketing people say I should be’. And that was such a depressing place to be.”

    Also the fact that Mercedes had inside knowledge about new engines, hence their massive pace advantage over rivals, who had no chance fighting against Lewis “I just want fair racing on a fair platform” Hamilton:

    “They knew a bit more about the (proposed) power unit because the Mercedes people were in close contact with the FIA in defining the concept of this engine.”It is why they had such a strong start last year and they are keeping that advantage now,” the 84-year-old Briton added.

    1. I can’t believe people still want to think that about Mercedes even though, in reality, they didn’t know any sooner than other manufacturers because FIA is impartial & if they benefitted them by giving info before others, they would’ve ended up in big trouble with court & other implications.

    2. @armchairexpert no, it has been proven that Mercedes did not have inside knowledge about the new engines – only conspiracy theorist trolls want to keep pushing that debunked claim.

      If any manufacturer had inside knowledge of what the upcoming regulations were, it would be Renault. We have actually seen part of the technical note that Renault put forward to the FIA in the mid 2000s which advocated implementing the type of hybrid energy recovery system that is now in force, complete with results from single cylinder testing that Renault undertook to demonstrate the viability of that concept.

      It was Renault that was the keenest advocate for this type of power unit, and Renault who would have had the initial development advantage because of the work they had done to support the case that they were making to the FIA at the time.

      1. It was Renault that was the keenest advocate for this type of power unit, and Renault who would have had the initial development advantage because of the work they had done to support the case that they were making to the FIA at the time.

        If I remember correctly, the FIA under Mosley wanted a sort of ‘World Engine’ that they could use in all their premier series. This would make it much easier for manufacturers to get involved, which is what the FIA is always looking for as it gives their series prestige and themselves additional credibility in all their other work.

        The initial idea, championed if not proposed by Renault, was an inline four cylinder engine with an additional electric motor. It was rumored at the time that Porsche’s eventual V4 engine for it’s 919 Le Mans car started out as their take on this initial idea. But Ferrari and Mercedes wanted to keep the V-shape engine and both supported the six cylinder variant. Renault eventually relented, but only under protest.

        Todt floated a similar idea in 2017, to better align the F1 and WEC engine regulations, but not much came of it.

        1. This gels with how I remember it: Renault wanted a 1.6 litre inline 4 cylinder, but Ferrari in particular (and Mercedes, but to a lesser extent) wanted the V6 as their road cars are based around multi-cylinder engines, and an inline 4 does not transfer for them/

  4. People still assume Red Bull turned off quicker or started working sooner, even though all teams always begin working on the following season’s car early (usually in the previous year’s April-May), & as technical rules stay entirely stable, everything done this season even in the late-phase will be wholly useful for next season.
    Therefore, I wouldn’t make definitive conclusions – teams know what they’re doing.

    If the location in Ocon’s tweet is Goodwood, what event has been there this weekend?

    I agree with the COTD about not changing the qualifying format, but I don’t mind about ATA, sprint format, or FLAP bonus point.

    1. @jerejj If you have to believe Zack:

      “I would imagine, given Red Bull’s dominance, they turned off their development quicker than others to focus on next year’s cars,” Brown told Sky. “So that’s a bit scary, what might be coming.

      But there is 1 problem with that idea the budgetcap restricts developmenttime on windtunnel and CFG so it’s depemds on how good people are developing in the mind of those very good people at Red Bull. it’s not like Mercedes 2014-2020 time enough money or time to improve things.

  5. I’d imagine only a fundamental flaw in the new car would cause redbull to lose their lead. I’d also assume that would be easy to reverse given that stable regs, given that they could even revert to this year’s car if they make that big a mistake. However this seems very unlikely.

    That with few area for development and innovation I’d imagine redbull will again be the Tema to be and with a solid margin, even if they need a few races to figure their car out.

    Perhaps it just depends on how quickly they reach the threshold where returns begin to diminish..

    Even in comparing lap times from last season how much of it is just the overweight cars from last season? How much room is there even for improvement in these regs?

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