Word On The Beat

Rumour and gossip from the F1 paddock

Changes afoot at McLAREN. Between the Bahrain and Chinese Grand Prix ZAK BROWN was announced as CEO of McLaren Racing rather than executive director. The commercial and racing responsibility between him and ERIC BOULLIER has been more clearly defined within the new structure. Further changes are expected in the technical department.    

On the Tuesday following the CHINESE GRAND PRIX the TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP met to discuss both the abolition of the F1 FUEL LIMIT (currently 105kg) and the introduction of REVISED AERO REGS. Both proposals would be for introduction next season, ahead of the much wider changes coming into effect in 2021. Possible changes in the weekend format for 2020 were also to be discussed. 

FERRARI is believed to be using the ERS-H to spin the turbo when off-throttle, thereby keeping an exhaust flow to the rear wing underside upon corner entry. An extra paddle was observed on VETTEL’S steering wheel in BAHRAIN, this believed to be the control used to spin up the ERS-H. 

In the AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX Thursday press conference, LEWIS HAMILTON referenced something he’d seen SEBASTIAN VETTEL tweet. “I’m not on Twitter,” interjected Vettel. “Are you not?” said an incredulous Hamilton. “Who am I following, then?” 

SERGIO MARCHIONNE was originally scheduled to attend LIBERTY MEDIA’S Bahrain presentation about the POST-2020 F1, but cancelled. 

HONDA expects its MONTRÉAL upgrade to yield an extra 27bhp. GPS analysis suggests it’s currently about 12bhp down on RENAULT in race trim. Renault itself may have its much-delayed new ERS-h finally ready for the same race.

As LEWIS HAMILTON was being questioned in the BAHRAIN post-race press conference, about overheard remarks in the green room he’d made about MAX VERSTAPPEN, following the pair’s collision, the adjacent SEBASTIAN VETTEL sprung to Hamilton’s defence. “We’ve all been in that situation, we fight someone, we go sometimes wheel-to-wheel, it’s close and you have a lot of adrenaline going. Do you think, comparing to football, if you have a microphone on a football player’s mouth, that everything he says is something nice? That it’s a nice message when the guy tackles him and maybe sometimes he fouls him or not? So I don’t think it’s justified to give us these kind of shit questions and making up a story out of nothing. If we are just racing and we are full of adrenaline, sometimes we say these things.”

In the SHANGHAI paddock on Thursday there was a very serious-looking meeting between Renault Sport and Red Bull’s CHRISTIAN HORNER and HELMUT MARKO. With the progress of the latest HONDA engine in the sister TORO ROSSO team, RED BULL is edging ever closer to partnering up its senior team with the Japanese manufacturer from 2019.