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.