News before the Russian GP
April 26, 2016 by Joe Saward
It is no great surprise to report that no agreement has been reached with regard to the engine regulations in 2017. There were a series of meetings today at Biggin Hill but the Strategy Group and the F1 Commission failed to finalise any new rules. The meetings were trying to solve problems of convergence of performance, availability of engines, the costs of the engines and the noise. The Strategy Group seems to have come up with some kind of agreement but the F1 Commission failed to get the majority required with the sticking point being the question of cost and guarantees that every team would get an engine. The parties involved have until the weekend to find an agreement or else things will remain unchanged in 2017. Changes to the chassis regulations for next year have proved to be easier to achieve and these should go ahead, although it is unclear whether the team bosses have had access to any series research and development data, to see if the decisions are a good idea or not. This is all fairly typical of F1 in its current state.
Elsewhere in F1 circles, Scuderia Toro Rosso has taken the unexpected step of hiring John Booth, formerly of Manor F1, to be its director of racing. Team boss Franz Tost says that the decision has been taken because of the increasing complexity of the sport, although the cynics may say that the move comes after a string of mistakes by the team
The Renault team has also announced that it will be running Sergey Sirotkin in the FP1 session in Sochi and that the Russian will join the team as a test driver. Kevin Magnussen will thus lose the preparation time in Russia. Russia is a big market for Renault.
“Sergey is one of the most promising drivers from the junior categories so it is great for us that he is joining Renault Sport,” said Frédéric Vasseur, the Racing Director of Renault Sport Racing. “For Renault Russia it is a good opportunity to harness the growing popularity of Russian motorsports.”
Sirotkin is funded by SMP Racing, a Russian company that belongs to Boris Rotenberg, at the founder of the SMP Bank. Rosenberg and his brother Arkady re members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and in consequence have faced sanctions from the US and from the EU since the Crimean takeover.
Renault bought control of Avtoframos in 2012 and renamed the company Renault Russia two years later. The company produces Duster, Mégane, Fluence, Logan and Sandero models for the Russian market. Renault’s other involvement in Russia has been less successful. The company bought into AvtoVaz in 2012 and now owns two-thirds of the business with Russian company Rostec owning the remaining shares. The company lost $1.2 billion last year and the company boss Bo Andersson recently resigned, to be replaced by Nicolas Maure, who was previously head of Dacia.