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Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17. Japanese Grand Prix, Friday 6th October 2017. Suzuka, Japan.

The second practice session was a bust due to heavy rain with only five cars setting a lap time and of those five, Lewis Hamilton was on top. This could mean that the team is back to their normal ways, per Lewis’s comments, but the team wasn’t without it’s issues as teammate Valtteri Bottas may be taking a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

While Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel may not need a gearbox change in Japan, the team’s CEO was furious with the issue the team had in Malaysia and there is to be some management re-shuffling at the team. The team says the restructuring is centered on their quality control department and as of this weekend, they are still not sure what caused the Malaysia Grand Prix engine issues.

“It is true that the problems we had were completely unexpected,” said Ferrari technical director Mattia Binotto.

“It is a problem we didn’t experience either on the dyno or the race track during the entire season.

“There were some quality issues with the parts – we failed an inlet manifold on the engine from the compressor to the cylinder heads.

“And it happened twice, because we had the same problem with Sebastian in qualifying and Kimi in the race.

“It is something that we are analyzing, and in parallel we reinforced the components, but it is something still we need to better understand.”

The other big news that was ruffling feathers in Malaysia was that FIA technical delegate, Marcin Budkowski, was leaving and joining Renault. As he has been working closely with all of the teams on their technical car designs for 2018, you can imagine that folks such as Red Bull’s Christian Horner was not happy about this because it seems there was only a three-month gardening leave.

Arguing that this is certainly not enough time as Budkowski has seen everyone’s secrets, Renault had played down the situation in Malaysia but it is now official.

Renault Sport Racing announces the upcoming arrival of Marcin Budkowski at Enstone as Executive Director.

Marcin Budkowski will oversee all chassis development and production activities.

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director Renault Sport Racing:

“There have been a lot of positive changes these last few months at Renault Sport Racing with an accelerated expansion at Enstone, the restructuring of our engine deployment from Viry with the supply of two top customer teams for 2018, three titles in a row in an increasingly competitive Formula E championship and other motor racing categories, and the arrival of new strategic partners. All of this is happening in a context where the seasons are longer and more intense. It was clear that the Renault Sport Racing management structure needed reinforcing. Marcin’s mission will be to continue the strengthening of Enstone to enable Renault to join the top Formula 1 teams by 2020, through relying on the proven personnel of the likes of Bob Bell, Nick Chester and Rob White. Marcin’s arrival is excellent news and further proof of our determination to achieve our goals.”

The team say they are willing to delay the appointment by an additional three months if that will make everyone happy but many believe that 12-18 months is more realistic.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Seán

    … and I quote

    “The second practice session was a bust due to heavy rain with only five cars setting a lap time and of those five, Lewis Hamilton was on top”

    Followed by

    “This could mean that the team is back to their normal ways”

    Like…. WHAT? … Hamilton was on top of what exactly? …

    I would love you to explain that one to me … or justify that comment … please.

    The only two other teams to run were Williams and Force India … all Merc runners … don’t you even find that at all interesting as to why … and there is YOUR story …

    Seriously confused about how Merc is back … but this is proof of what the sport has become and how you gauge success it’s no wonder its a shambles … a joke … a farce of a sport … coming from one of it’s biggest fans … that’s harsh!

    Can’t wait to hear this explanation … lol

    • subcritical71

      uhm…. statement of fact, he was on top of P2. The winner of the 2005 Indianapolis GP is still… the winner.

      ‘could mean’ is a possibility, which would be correct also.

      I think he qualified both well.

      • Seán

        lolol … I guess you are the author under another guise … what a total nonsense of a reply … just so you know, I’m only talking about the fact Merc are back to “normal” based on a practice where only 5 cars set a lap … whatever an Indy race 12 years has to do with ANYTHING is beyond me … so don’t go embarrassing yourself … as only logic and reason would dictate otherwise … maybe you lack both?

        As for a statement of fact … that was never in question … see my comment about LOGIC AND REASON … Could mean, in context has no foundation in reality … something you may also be missing … reality!

        lololololol

        Just when I thought no one could get any more deluded … then you pop along … cheer for the laugh … I put this on the projector in the office, yea, were an office of F1 nuts … boy did we have a laugh …

        Thanks again …

        NEXXXXT!

        • subcritical71

          I’ll politely bow out of this one. Good day, sir!

        • I’m not quite sure what your issue is or why the agro but how about a little decorum & civility?

          Lewis, said after Malaysia that the Merc was having issues and that he had told the team his perspective of what needed to be done and said the team worked really hard all week to figure it out. Come Friday practice, they were there or thereabouts on FP1 just 2/10’s off Ferrari and Lewis said after both free practice sessions that Merc was back at what they were before Malaysia and felt the car had recovered the ground they lost in the previous week.

          Lewis was on top of FP2’s time sheet. He also said he felt they were back on song having been behind the Ferrari’s in FP sessions in Malaysia.

          Doesn’t sound like you’re a fan of the sport so perhaps Lewis being back on top or off the pace may not even resonate if you don’t follow the sport closely. IF he is 6/10’s off a Ferrari, that’s a serious drop for Merc. If he’s just 2/10’s off in FP1, that is more representative of Merc and or Ferrari in sheer pace.

          Also, Subcritical is not the author, I am. IF we’re going to have temper tantrums or hurl insults, I’d ask you to visit other F1 websites because this isn’t a forum for trolls. We have one rule, Decorum & Civility. We can disagree and share opinion without resorting to insult…they only make you look silly at this site and do nothing to bolster your opinion.

          Given your last two comments, I suspect this may be difficult for you so perhaps its best to just not comment at all and seek out an F1 site that loves this kind of interaction on their site…we actually don’t.

  • subcritical71

    I’m still interested in what happens with the Marcin to Renault story. Looks like Renault have offered to double the gardening leave, that would put him out to the beginning of April when most of the Renault designs for the year should be already frozen. Then it will be process and upgrade improvements…

    • jakobusvdl

      Judging by some of the comments of the Team Principal’s at Malaysia, it seems a lot of the issue is related to the general animosity between the Teams and the FIA.
      The likes of Paddy Lowe, James Alison haven’t had to have 12 to 18 months stand down periods. While Industrial espionage is a reality, people do change employer in F1, and in motorsports, presumably most of them act ethically, or their careers would be short lived. We saw how harshly Spygate was punished. So, other than cynicism, have we any reason to believe Budkowski wouldn’t act ethically?
      I suspect the Budkowski ‘issue’ is a bit of a beat up, and the teams are using this as an lever to ‘renegotiate’ what they have to share with the FIA.

      • Is there an element to the fact that poaching Paddy Lowe may bring some Merc tips and tricks but Budkowski was at the helm and saw all the teams kit and designs? That’s a tad different than Brawn going to Honda from Ferrari.

        • jakobusvdl

          What about Alison to Mercedes? He’d know all of Ferrari’s development plans and be taking them to Mercedes – their current main rival.
          Even Zak Brown to McLaren? He’s been behind many of the main sponsorship deals in F1, and carries that commercial knowledge with him.
          I don’t know the full nature of Budkowski’s role in the FIA, so maybe there is a great difference in the circumstances, but I’m trying to offer an alternative viewpoint.

        • jakobusvdl

          Here’s another thought on the theme,
          We all thought it was really clever when Ferrari asked the FIA asked for clarification on the legality of a ‘FRIS’ suspension design they were contemplating, when that was actually aimed at making sure Mercedes, RBR and others who had developed FRIS suspension systems couldn’t use them.
          What made Ferrari raise that issue?
          Paddock talk, industrial espionage, information from someone moving from another team?
          So we like it when something undermines the secrecy in F1 teams, but are apparently ‘outraged’ in this case, because of the FIA link?

  • jakobusvdl

    Does anyone else wonder what the working environment in Ferrari is like?
    It seems that Marchionne doesn’t favour a ‘no blame’ culture, going more for ‘the beatings will continue until moral improves’.
    That said, it does seem to be working.

    • subcritical71

      Ever since the shuffle a few years ago I haven’t been a big fan of Ferrari management, and they used to be the team I followed for many years. I’ve tried to like them again but I just can’t do it. They do seem to be taking no prisoners but in the last 3 years that has gotten them to runner up and that’s it. They were doing that in the Alonso years also. So I actually don’t think it’s worked out that great.
      The latest change with the quality department seems like was already in the works from a few statements I read and not a reaction to the double failures last weekend.

      • jakobusvdl

        Thanks SubC, interesting to know those changes were in the pipeline not a knee-jerk reaction. Maybe the management style isn’t as reactive as I’ve been thinking.