Renault misses target; Sauber shove

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A few things I found interesting out of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend so far and in no particular order.

Renault and James Allison

According to reports, James Allison has turned down an offer to return to Renault Sport F1. It is a team he knows well as he left them to Join Ferrari three years ago. Even though he had a contract through 2018, he parted company with Ferrari and many thought he may return to Renault given his desire to remain in the UK due to a recent family tragedy.

Interesting in that a few weeks ago, ted Kravitz had suggested that there were rumors that Renault was in the middle of a leadership struggle at the moment with Cyril Abiteboul leading Frederic Frédéric Vasseur. It seems that Allison didn’t accept the offer due to some of this leadership issues and you also have long-time veteran Alan Permane there as well. James is credited for doing quite a lot with the chassis design when Kimi Raikkonen was at the team and doing well but it’s a bit of a bummer when a key guy like James wouldn’t sign on due to internal leadership issues and it makes you wonder why Renault is putting up with any of it instead of cleaning house and getting on with their program.

Sauber to use old Ferrari engines in 2017

Monisha Kaltenborn says the team will use the 2016 Ferrari engines for 2017 and place all their focus on the chassis. While she’s optimistic that this is the right move and it was made early on in the season due to the shifting sands within the 2017 regulation changes, it seems like a financial decision to me.

An Article I read suggested that the evolution of the current power units will not be as dramatic as they are four years in to development and while I understand that, I would argue that it has been muzzled by token spend and next year there are no development restrictions so bigger gains could be made. If that’s the case, Sauber could have a serious lack of shove in the back of a chassis that could be a lot better than this year’s car and that’s not good.

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Dr T

Clearly Sauber have not learned from the example of Toro Rosso this year

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They’ve been thereabouts with Manor, but can’t get past them this year. Using a year old engine next season? Nothing about their recent performance suggests they can exceed everyone’s expectations.

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No doubt a financial decision on their part but I can see it as a stop-gap measure through 2017 as the team could be a Honda customer team in 2018, if they survive that long. The best drama in the paddock was the debate over hot weather tire test in Bahrain between the rich and poor teams and Christian Horner speaking on behalf of the poor teams.