The seven UK-based Formula 1 teams have launched ‘Project Pitlane’ to help with the production of ventilator equipment in the fight against coronavirus.
The teams – Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, Haas and Williams – and their respective technology arms, plus F1 themselves, have been co-ordinating their response to the Government’s call for companies to provide assistance with manufacturing medical equipment.
And the F1 teams, whose capability to develop and produce concepts at a rapid development rate is a key aspect of the sport, say they are ready to meet the national challenge.
“Following decisions taken this week by the UK Government, Project Pitlane is focused on three workstreams,” read an F1 statement.
“These workstreams vary in scope from reverse engineering existing medical devices, to support in scaling the production of existing ventilator designs as part of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, to the rapid design and prototype manufacture of a new device for certification and subsequent production.
“In each instance, Project Pitlane will pool the resources and capabilities of its member teams to greatest effect, focusing on the core skills of the F1 industry: rapid design, prototype manufacture, test and skilled assembly.
A German report has claimed the seven-time grand prix winner has allowed his manager to meet with Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul recently over the seat vacated by Aussie Daniel Ricciardo last week.
Ricciardo’s move to McLaren followed hot on the heels of Ferrari’s dramatic parting of ways with Sebastian Vettel and the iconic Formula 1 team’s decision to snatch Spaniard Carlos Sainz away from McLaren to partner young star Charles Leclerc from 2021.
Norris excited by Ricciardo
It leaves four-time world champion Vettel without a drive for the 2021 season, reportedly contemplating retirement at the age of 32.
Renault were reported to have also been in talks with Formula 1 legend Fernando Alonso and were earlier linked to Vettel.
Now Bottas’ name has been thrown into the ring.
Incredibly, Coton is based out of the same driver management company as Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who juggles his position as Mercedes team principal while managing drivers from other teams.
Despite the management connection, Wolff has repeatedly insisted he is in no hurry to finalise his team’s driver line-up for 2021, despite the rest of the grid making their moves.
Bottas has been on rolling one-year contracts with Mercedes in recent years and the report claims he doesn’t want to be left without a seat in 2021 if Mercedes decides not to renew his contract after all the other seats have already been filled.
The reported link with Renault could also put heat on Mercedes to sign Bottas up quickly if the team does want to keep the Finnish driver as Hamilton’s teammate beyond 2020.
Wolff, however, does not appear to be buckling any time soon.
Wolff doesn’t want Mercedes to get into a situation like Ferrari, Renault and McLaren have, where the teams will have to hide their development work from the drivers that are leaving their garages at the end of this season.
“The fact is, the decision of some other teams to announce driver pairings for 2021 so early comes as something of a surprise because it will give them a headache for a whole year,” he said last week.
Without directly mentioning Bottas, he says the team is still planning to remain loyal to its drivers when it comes time to make decisions for the 2021 season.
“We have to stay true to our line,” he says.
“Loyalty is something incredibly important, part of our values. We are loyal to our current drivers and do not want to negotiate at a time when the season has not even started.”
Wolff last week also left the door open for his team to sign up Vettel following his departure from Ferrari.
“Sebastian is a great driver, a major personality and an asset to any Formula 1 team,” Wolff said.
“When looking to the future, our first loyalty lies with the current Mercedes drivers.
“But naturally we must take this development into consideration.”
Kyle Busch is NASCAR’s reigning Cup champion and the resident villain of the series. Chase Elliott has been voted most popular driver the last two years and is quickly building a loyal and rabid fan base. Their on-track tussle at Darlington Raceway this week very well might be the start of a new rivalry NASCAR needs.
Busch admittedly misjudged a gap and unintentionally wrecked Elliott in what turned out to be the final green-flag lap of Wednesday night’s race. Elliott crashed, climbed out of his car, waved off medical personnel and waited on the apron for Busch to circle the track under caution.
As Busch passed, Elliott gave him a long, middle-finger salute.
The tension didn’t end there, either. Rain opened up over the South Carolina track moments after the incident and drivers were told to bring their cars to pit road. When Busch parked, a group of Elliott’s team members stared him down.
Among them was Elliott crew chief Alan Gustafson, who was Busch’s crew chief when Busch drove for Hendrick Motorsports early in his career. Busch was informed over his radio he had a welcoming committee waiting for him, and one of his own Joe Gibbs Racing crew members sat on the wall directly next to Gustafson as a de facto bodyguard.
A NASCAR official eventually told all the mask-clad crewmen to get back over the wall, the race was called because of rain and Busch appeared to have a civil discussion with Gustafson.
Busch did not rule out retaliation from Elliott down the road. “Him and I have always had a cordial relationship over the years,” Busch said. “I’ve known him since he was 12 or 13 years old, been racing with him ever since then, late models, super late models, trucks, Xfinity cars, all that sort of stuff.
“I just made a mistake, misjudged the gap, sent him into the wall. That was entirely unintentional. I’ll definitely reach out to him and tell him I’m sorry, tell him I hate it that it happened.”
Elliott had no comment and there is limited media availability to drivers under NASCAR’s current health protocols.
Since his Formula 1 debut in 2011, Daniel Ricciardo has endured the ups and downs of professional sport.
From the triumph of his maiden victory at the Canadian Grand Prix to his disastrous debut for Renault at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, the 30-year-old’s career has been an emotional rollercoaster.
Ricciardo has evidently been feeling nostalgic while in lockdown, and in the latest edition of “Dan’s Diary”, he reminisced about the races which have left a lasting emotional impact.
There are no prizes for guessing which F1 moment evoked the most anger for Ricciardo. After claiming pole position at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix, he slipped to second spot because of a shambolic a pit stop error, opening the door for Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton to win the event.
“Even four years on, I remember this day in so much detail. It’s like a video in my mind,” Ricciardo wrote.
“I can picture myself driving through the corner before the tunnel and that pit stop … I was so angry.
“I didn’t want to talk to anyone afterwards. I certainly didn’t want any sympathy. It was just pure rage.
“I remember standing on the podium with Lewis. He’d won a race that I had under control. I just didn’t want to be there.
“I had a moment of clarity in the media pen afterwards where I thought that if finishing second at Monaco is the worst day in my life, then I should probably wake up. So that was when the anger started to turn into disappointment.”
However, Ricciardo redeemed himself two years later by winning in Monaco in 2018, which remains his most recent F1 victory. The West Australian considers that win the most relieved he’s ever felt in F1.
“The main feeling was sheer relief that this time I didn’t have it taken from me,” Ricciardo said.
“That Sunday night, I was just burned out. It was more a massive exhale than anything else.”
A few years earlier, Ricciardo finished sixth at the 2014 German Grand Prix, narrowly trumped by Fernando Alonso for a spot in the top five. Although the result wasn’t necessarily remarkable, Ricciardo believed it signified the moment he gained the respect of his Spanish rival.
“I felt like I hadn’t earned Alonso’s respect until that day. I still had a point to prove with him,” Ricciardo wrote.
“He came out of the pits behind me on fresher tyres and cruised past me on the straight, but he left the door open, probably not expecting me to try to re-pass, so I went for it.
“We had this cat and mouse game after that for the next handful of laps, and it was big to show him that I was prepared to put up a fight on inferior tyres while keeping it clean.
“He said some nice things about me afterwards, so I think he looked at me differently after that.”
Ricciardo also revisited the infamous door-punch incident in Austin following the 2018 United States Grand Prix. After qualifying fifth, the Australian retired within the opening 10 laps due to a battery concern.
“I was dark after that one,” Ricciardo wrote. “I put my first through my drivers’ room door and didn’t hang around after the race.”
Six days later, Ricciardo bounced back and claimed pole position in Mexico City. However, tragedy struck the Red Bull star again, a hydraulics problem removing him from Sunday’s race with 10 laps remaining.
“Sunday was pretty miserable,” Ricciardo wrote.
“Before the lights went out, there were problems finding the engine revs for the start, so the start was terrible, but I’d turn it around with a long stint on the supersoft to get myself into a position to be second, and then the car stopped a few laps from the end.
“Those two weeks … Let’s say I didn’t enjoy my job.”