Hartley: Toro Rosso “in good shape” for British Grand Prix

Brendon Hartley has said he believes his Toro Rosso team is set for a strong result in this weekend’s British Grand Prix, following a series of performance updates in the last few races.

“I think we can be in good shape following the power unit upgrade that came in Canada,” Hartley said. “The aero upgrade in Austria also arrived at the right time because [at Silverstone] you need as much downforce as possible.

“I’m hoping for a strong weekend and better luck than in recent races.”

Peter Fox, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Hartley added that he is excited about his first British Grand Prix as a Formula One driver:

“I’m looking forward to tackling [Silverstone] in a modern F1 car, because it’s going to be crazy quick. The track has been resurfaced this year, so there will be even more grip than in the past.

“Silverstone is a real driver’s track and it has often produced great racing especially when the weather is at play: it’s one of the originals and it has a lot of character and a great atmosphere.”

Toro Rosso’s last outing at Silverstone was one of the low points of its 2017 campaign, with Carlos Sainz retiring after a collision with Daniil Kvyat on the opening lap.

The Red Bull junior team is looking to bounce back after an equally frustrating Austrian Grand Prix last weekend, which saw Pierre Gasly struggling throughout the race with floor damage after a first lap clash with Stoffel Vandoorne, and Hartley retire on lap 54 with a mechanical failure.

Charles Coates, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Feature image by Peter Fox / Getty Images, courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Renault: “We must do better” in Silverstone

Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has said his team “must do better” at the British Grand Prix than it has in the previous rounds in Austria and France.

The French marque endured a pointless race at the Red Bull Ring last weekend, with Nico Hülkenberg retiring due to a fiery engine failure and Carlos Sainz falling foul of tyre blistering, while in France the week before an MGU-K failure almost dropped Sainz out of the points in the closing laps.

“The sign of a good race team is the ability to react quickly and come back stronger,” Abiteboul said ahead of the British Grand Prix. “Even in the short turnaround between Austria and Silverstone, we must improve reliability, recover our more usual competitiveness level and further our understanding around tyre management.

“We know Silverstone will be a tough challenge but we will keep pushing to get back on target.”

Renault Sport F1 Team

Abiteboul added that Austria in particular was “a crash landing” after eight consecutive points for the team:

“Although the circuit did not play to our strengths, we must do better. It certainly benefited our rivals, who took advantage of three retirements in the top teams to finish higher than usual in the rankings.”

Renault remains in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship after Austria, but their absence from the top ten meant that Haas—who finished fourth and fifth in Spielberg—closed to within 13 points in the standings, and could overtake Renault this weekend if the French team run into any more misfortune in Silverstone.

Renault Sport F1 Team

The British Grand Prix: The Summer Festival of Formula One

It’s that time of the year again. No, not Christmas—the British Grand Prix. Once an airfield in the Second World War, Silverstone was turned into a race track in the late 1940s, and it is the second oldest track on the F1 calendar behind Monza.

The 5.1-kilometre track has seen some changes in recent years. The left-right Abbey chicane which led to Bridge was changed into a right-hander—now Turn one—and Bridge was disused, but is still an attraction for spectators during the weekend. Instead, we have the Wellington straight which leads to the long left-hander of Brooklands. The start/finish line is no longer the straight between Woodcote and Copse, but instead the uphill run from Vale to Abbey.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the appeal of the race. The activities, the camping, the barbecues and the atmosphere among the fans gives the British GP weekend a real festival feel, and expect it to be no different this weekend. The appeal of the Maggots, Becketts and Chapel complex has never changed either in 70 years of Silverstone. The high-speed section provides speed, fun and excitement for the drivers, and with these high downforce cars, most of it is now flat out.

Silverstone hasn’t always been the home of Formula One racing in Britain, however. It used to alternate with Aintree in the 1970s, and Brands Hatch has also hosted the race.

Ferrari Media

The third part of Formula One’s first ever triple-header will see British favourite Lewis Hamilton race in front of his home fans—he has won each of the last four races at Silverstone.

Sebastian Vettel comes into this weekend with a one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship after his third-place finish in a crazy Austrian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen won the race, his first win in 2018, from Kimi Raikkonen, while Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Hamilton all retired due to mechanical failures. As a result, Ferrari also lead the Constructors’ Championship—it was a pivotal moment in the season, and it is all perfectly poised coming into one of the most eagerly anticipated weekends of the year.

The favourites will be Mercedes. The power-sensitive nature of the track, coupled with the extra motivation of it being Hamilton’s home race, will work in their favour. However, the high speed sections will be more suited to Ferrari and Red Bull, and let’s not forget the power Ferrari have as well.

As the Red Arrows fly over, will it be the Prancing Horses, the Silver Arrows, or the Charging Bulls who will enjoy the taste of victory in the one of the biggest sporting events of the summer? We’ll find out this weekend at the home of British Motorsport.

Boullier resigns as McLaren race director

Eric Boullier has resigned from his post as McLaren’s race director, as part of a “leadership restructure” announced by the team ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Boullier had been facing pressure over his role this season as McLaren continued to struggle for performance despite switching from Honda to Renault power for 2018. When questioned at the French Grand Prix, Boullier insisted that he wouldn’t step down, although his departure with immediate effect has now been confirmed by the team.

In the announcement Boullier said: “I am proud to have worked with such a brilliant team over the past four years, but I recognise now is the right time for me to step down.

“I want to wish everyone at McLaren the best for the remainder of the season and for the future.”

Steven Tee/McLaren

As well as Boullier’s resignation, McLaren’s restructuring sees the team’s chief operating officer Simon Roberts move to oversee production, engineering and logistics, and Andrea Stella being appointed trackside performance director.

McLaren has also created the new role of sporting director—concerned with “[maximising] the effectiveness of the team’s racing package”—for former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said these changes are in response to “systemic and structural” problems with McLaren’s management, “which require major change from within” to correct.

In a statement, Brown said: “With today’s announcement, we start to address those issues and take the first step on our road to recovery.”

Featured image courtesy of Steven Tee/McLaren