Renault have reacted to a poor start to the 2019 Formula One season by announcing several high-profile changes to their senior structure, including the addition on a former Ferrari and Mercedes specialist.
The French manufacturer has endured a torrid time this season and has yet to see both drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg complete a race together.
Renault have suffered five retirements already to their works team drivers as well as the two engine-related retirements customer team McLaren have had.
Renault’s F1 team are under pressure for those above to deliver given the huge financial investment made in the team, and Ricciardo, in their bid to close the gap on the top three after being ‘best of the rest’ last year.
As part of that Christophe Mary, who was a senior figure at Ferrari’s most dominant era between 1994 and 2007 and then in a similar role at Mercedes for four years after that.
He will join Renault in August as director of engineering.
The change comes after team principal Cyril Abiteboul admitted that Renault’s results had fallen “short of expectations”.
F1 heads to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend where traditionally a number of teams make big upgrades which shape the rest of the season.
“The start of the European segment of the 2019 Formula 1 season is an opportunity for us to reset,” said Abiteboul. “Overall, it’s been a tough start to the year and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix capped off a run of results that fell short of our expectations.
“We know we are capable of much more and we need to target clean weekends and races to make the most of our potential.
“To do so, we have work to do on all sides of our operation; chassis and engine on and off track, and work with the drivers to allow them to reach their respective capacities. We are motivated as ever to strive for more and we aim for a full recovery in competitiveness in Spain.
“We know that the midfield is tight, but this also creates opportunities. We’ve seen that fortunes can change in an instant so we go to Barcelona hungry to get our season campaign going.”
Fullwood has prior experience in the main following PIRETK Enduro Cup campaigns in 2018 and 2019.
After a formative enduro debut with Todd Hazelwood at Matt Stone Racing in 2018, Fullwood made his name in 2019 alongside Andre Heimgartner at Kelly Racing.
Fullwood’s standout moment away from his Super2 domination was an impressive drive to fourth in the Sandown co-drivers race, mixing it with superstar veterans Craig Lowndes and Garth Tander.
However, it was Fullwood’s superb Super2 campaign which helped pave his path to the main game, with the Darwin-born driver grabbing six race wins and four pole positions en route to the title with Matt White Motorsport.
Such was Fullwood’s domination, that he finished first or second in all bar three races in the year and sealed the crown six rounds into the seven-round championship.
“I’m really excited to be joining the Walkinshaw Andretti United family for 2020, and can’t wait to get my rookie year under way,” said Fullwood.
“It’s a dream come true to join the main series, and something I’ve been working towards for a long time.
“From the moment I walked through the doors at WAU I felt at home, and everyone here has been more than welcoming.
“There’s no doubt there will be a lot to learn this year, but I’ve definitely got the right people around me, you can tell it’s a family here.
“It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with Middy’s who have been an incredible supporter over my journey, and great to have the support of Mobil 1 who have such a loyal relationship with the team.
“Now that the news is out there, I can’t wait to jump in the car at The Bend and kick it all off.”
Fullwood will steer his #2 entry at the pre-season test at The Bend Motorsport Park on February 18 prior to the season-opening Superloop Adelaide 500 across February 20-23.
“It’s really exciting to have Bryce join the team for the 2020 season. He’s certainly someone we have watched closely over the recent years, and his outstanding season in 2019 shows the calibre of driver he is,” said team co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw.
“It’s definitely going to be an exciting journey, Bryce is an outstanding driver, and person, and we are really excited by what we can achieve together going forward.
“We also welcome Middy’s to our family with open arms, and as always, thank Mobil 1 for their continued and unwavering support.”
Two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner has opened up on his decision to auction off one of his treasured racing suits to raise funds for communities affected by the devastating bushfires across Australia.
Stoner has become the latest in a long line of Australian athletes to help aid the recovery effort, with several motorsport identities playing their part.
Stoner is putting up a suit which carries significant personal worth. It’s the race-winning suit worn at Aragon in 2010, his first win of what was a difficult season, and a race he turned his fortunes around – something he hopes he can help do for Australia.
“This suit, it’s pretty special to me, because there are a few suits that I want to keep to myself, and this one was worn at the circuit I went undefeated on,” Stoner told foxsports.com.au.
“This suit in particular was worn at the end of a bad run that season, it has a bit of significance in that I’m hoping it can help Australia end its bad run, I want to do what I can to help.
“I had a rough season in 2010 and that was my first win of the season, and that was the start of things starting to look up for me again.
“It’s quite an important piece to me, and it wasn’t one I was going to give away, but through the circumstances, for the people of Australia and everything they’ve gone through the last months, it’s definitely something I want to help out with.”
Stoner said riders in particular rarely part ways with their beloved helmets and suits – himself in particular – but stressed the greater impact behind his decision, considering how the news has made an impact beyond Australia’s shores.
“I spent a few days thinking about it, to be honest,” he said regarding his decision to auction his suit.
“It’s a race-winning suit, and there wouldn’t be many riders who’d part ways with those suits, especially someone like me who kept the same suit for a long time. In 2011, my championship-winning year, I actually won seven out of 10 races wearing one suit.
“It’s not just about giving away something to raise as much as you can for everybody that’s been through hell, basically. It’s what I can impact the most with it.
“I’m in the US at the moment, and I’m shocked how many people over here know what’s happening in Australia. Media around the world aren’t just attending to it because it’s a big story, they’re really trying to create enough interest over here to get help.
“People over here in the US don’t really know a lot about Australia, but they seem to be right up to date with what’s happening with the fires and the rain we had recently.”
One of Stoner’s current connections to the land is through his property near Tamworth in rural New South Wales.
The property itself came within striking distance of fires, and Stoner described his heartache in seeing his cousin – who manages the property – and property staff having to work long hours to retain the property and also defend it from fires.
“Knowing people there and what they’ve been through … for instance, one of my cousins, who is one of my best friends and manages my property and other staff, they’ve been doing 19-hour shifts and they’re also volunteer firefighters,” he said.
“The fires got within 300 yards of the boundary line at the property, and my cousin and staff have been fighting the fires for months now.
“I know what they’re all going through, and rural Australia is where I grew up and where I call home. Seeing them already go through a tough time, especially the last four, five years through a really hard drought that we’re all going through.
“These fires on top of that, nothing could be worse. I don’t think there’s much more devastation than fires when it comes to destroying peoples’ homes and memories.”
A father of two young daughters, Stoner acknowledged how the images of destruction and devastation could intimidate younger generations with regards to a future Australia.
However, he was confident future disaster could be prevented from here considering the response not only from the general public, but from fellow athletes who have donated special relics and money to help alleviate the pain left behind by the fires.
“This isn’t something you want anyone to go through or see, but at the same time, I’m the type of person who believes young Australians need to see this to show what can happen,” he said.
“It’s so they can understand more and give more respect to the country that we want in the future. When we sit there and get complacent, it’s as though you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. It’s good for young Australians to see what is gone so we know how to look after it in the future.
“I’ve always loved how Australians get behind Australians, we’re always there to pick each other up no matter how hard the times get.
“It’s really good what athletes around the world are doing to raise awareness and how much they’re taking out of their collections to put back in towards building Australia up again and getting people back on their feet.”