Formula 1
Formula 1
28 Mar
Event finished
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
FP1 in
4 days
R
Portuguese GP
02 May
Race in
20 days
09 May
Next event in
23 days
23 May
Race in
41 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
55 days
13 Jun
Race in
62 days
27 Jun
Race in
76 days
04 Jul
Next event in
79 days
18 Jul
Race in
97 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
111 days
29 Aug
Race in
139 days
05 Sep
Race in
146 days
26 Sep
Race in
167 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
170 days
10 Oct
Race in
180 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
195 days
31 Oct
Race in
202 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
222 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
244 days
Motorsport Blog
Topic

Motorsport Blog

Moving on up: New entries from Renault F1 and Alfa Sauber promise improvement

It's looking like a very competitive F1 season ahead, certainly as far as the midfield race is concerned, if the latest new car launches are anythi...

Moving on up: New entries from Renault F1 and Alfa Sauber promise improvement

It's looking like a very competitive F1 season ahead, certainly as far as the midfield race is concerned, if the latest new car launches are anything to go by.

Sauber, which revealed its car on Tuesday morning, has been in the doldrums since BMW pulled out in 2010, although for a while at least they had teams like Caterham and Manor propping up the table behind them.

Last year was a real struggle and then came the cavalry in the form of a partnership with Ferrari for technical and commercial support, new Ferrari V6 engines and Alfa Romeo branding and cash.

The car revealed today looks a lot more purposeful and evolved than recent years, but one senses it's a case of 'more to come' from this team, as the deals were done relatively late.

The car is a new concept, which means that there will be plenty of headroom for development.

But the time available after the deals were done, with meaningful resources being thrown at the aerodynamics in particular, was limited. It will be in the second half of 2018 and then into 2019 that you'll see this team moving up.

The main difference between the cars at the front of the grid and the back - given that they have the same engine - is downforce. And not just barn door downforce, but efficient downforce which means maximum load in corners but without excessive drag on the straights.

That comes at a hefty price - the additional $90m or so per year that top teams can spent on R&D compared to the minnows, principally in the aerodynamics area.

In Charles Leclerc (above right) they have the most exciting driver to graduate from GP2/F2 since Lewis Hamilton in 2007, so the car should have opportunities to score some points.

Last year it was very close in midfield but with rules stability likely to close the gaps, that midfield does look incredibly tight this year and there will be a premium on the best drivers getting the results.

It's early days and testing starts next week, but one would expect behind the top three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, a gap back to a tight group led by McLaren, Renault, Force India, Williams, then Sauber and Haas pretty close with Toro Rosso. It could be that a couple of tenths of a second separates 7th on the grid from 15th this year.

Commercially Sauber has added not only the Alfa Romeo branding, which looks great on the rear of the car, but also the tie up with Ferrari has brought new deals from Kappa, Carrera and Richard Mille, who backs Leclerc.

There's no clarity on this yet, but one suspects that the lowest budget in the field is now Haas in the sub $100m range, with Force India not far ahead.

Renault must perform in 2018

Renault went live with their car on Tuesday, shortly after Sauber.

This team has been steadily ramping back up after buying back their operation in Enstone from Gerard Lopez' Lotus concern.

There has been a lot of investment in infrastructure and hiring of personnel - albeit not on Mercedes or Ferrari levels - and the car and engine package should be a lot more competitive this season, with two strong drivers in Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz.

The German referred in the launch notes to "the news from Viry (Renault's engine base, near Paris) about the development of the power unit... everything looks and sounds good," which gives him an optimistic outlook for the season.

"The workforce has already increased by more than 35%," added Renault Sport F1 president Jerome Stoll. "Our investment has so far been successfully translated to the track as we rose from ninth to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2017 and ended the year with the fourth fastest car."

Commercially Renault has pulled in new deals with insurance firm MAPFRE and Alibaba.

Jack Aitken comes in as third driver and reserve, which duties he will carry out alongside his challenge for the FIA F2 championship. Artem Markelov, an F2 front runner from last season, takes on a role as development driver.

What do you think of the midfield challenge? Leave your comments in the section below
shares
comments
Red Bull testing plans unaffected despite RB14 crash

Previous article

Red Bull testing plans unaffected despite RB14 crash

Next article

Why Sauber-Alfa Romeo is already on another level

Why Sauber-Alfa Romeo is already on another level
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Tags innovation
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Prime

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says Nigel Roebuck.

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now? Prime

Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Prime

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021
When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m Prime

When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m

Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix lasted mere corners before he wiped himself out in a shunt, but his financial backing affords him a full season. Back in 1993 though, Marco Apicella was an F1 driver for just 800m before a first corner fracas ended his career. Here’s the story of his very short time at motorsport’s pinnacle.

Formula 1
Apr 4, 2021
How Raikkonen's rapid rise stalled his teammate's F1 career climb Prime

How Raikkonen's rapid rise stalled his teammate's F1 career climb

Kimi Raikkonen's emergence as a Formula 1 star in his rookie campaign remains one of the legendary storylines from 2001, but his exploits had an unwanted impact on his Sauber teammate's own prospects. Twenty years on from his first F1 podium at the Brazilian GP, here's how Nick Heidfeld's career was chilled by the Iceman.

Formula 1
Apr 3, 2021
The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes Prime

The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite, for a change, not having the quickest car. But any hopes of developing its W12 to surpass Red Bull's RB16B in terms of outright speed could not have come at a worse time.

Formula 1
Apr 2, 2021
How Verstappen's Bahrain mistake can only make him stronger Prime

How Verstappen's Bahrain mistake can only make him stronger

Max Verstappen lost out to Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix by a tiny margin, slipping off the track just as victory was within his grasp. But the painful lesson from defeat can only help Verstappen come back even stronger

Formula 1
Mar 31, 2021