Horner extends olive branch

AFP / Andrej Isakovic<br />Fernando Alonso will start 15th on the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix, one place ahead of equally-frustrated McLaren Honda team-mate Jenson Button

AFP / Andrej Isakovic
Fernando Alonso will start 15th on the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix, one place ahead of equally-frustrated McLaren Honda team-mate Jenson Button

Vietnamese Grand Prix to be introduced on the F1 calendar in 2020.

The penultimate round of the 2018 Formula One season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, will take place at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

Also known as Interlagos, the race has, over the years, produced dramatic results.

Fernando Alonso clinched world titles there in 2005 and 2006 and Kimi Raikkonen won his single championship in 2007.

Victory in the race and his hope for a driver’s title for Felipe Massa in 2008 was thwarted when young McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton overtook Timo Glock on the last lap and snatched the title from the Brazilian.

In 2009, Jenson Button took both the driver’s and constructor’s titles for Brawn.

So will this weekend be a classic? Doubtful, with Hamilton already the 2018 driver’s champion, but let us hope for a great race There are just two races until the end of the Red Bull/Renault association.

I do not refer to it as a partnership as that implies a mutual alliance and it has been many years since that was the situation between the team and its engine supplier.

Having used Cosworth and Ferrari engines after the purchase of the Jaguar F1 team, Red Bull’s success story began with the use of the Renault engine from 2007.

In those heady days, and particularly from 2010 to 2013, the Renault-powered Red Bulls dominated, with a young German, Sebastian Vettel, winning the driver’s and constructors’ championships for each of those years.

Then the introduction of the hybrid power unit in 2014 created problems between the Austrian team and French engine builder. Austria 2014 was the commencement of their animosity.

Team principal Christian Horner reportedly said in a TV interview that “the difference between Mercedes and Renault is this. When a driver with a Mercedes engine pushes the overtake button, his car goes faster.

When our drivers, with Renault engines, push the button, the car breaks”.

The 2015 season was another dismal one for the team and Red Bull announced, rather acrimoniously, that they would no longer use the Renault unit. But the Austrian-owned concern could not find anyone else to supply them.

So, in a desperate last-minute move and a fragile peace pact, Red Bull announced they would be using a Renault power unit in 2016, but that it would be branded a Tag Heuer unit.

Since then there has been a succession of failures, as witnessed by Daniel Ricciardo this year, and unpleasant comments surfaced once more.

Red Bull had earlier informed the media of the move to Honda as the team’s future engine supplier.

If you are wondering why I am going through all this history, it is due to a statement from Horner after the last race.

In an interview with Crash. net he is quoted as saying: “Credit where credit is due, Renault have provided us with an engine this weekend that is competitive with our opponents. “We went head-to-head, locked out the front row of the grid and won the Grand Prix in a dominant fashion.”

He continued: “The altitude of the circuit obviously does constrain some of our rivals and it puts Renault into a window where they are competitive.

“Which is why we put an awful lot of focus into this race, taking the penalties to get another B spec into the pool to have fun for this weekend.”

Praise from the English team boss and very different to his normal rhetoric concerning Renault.

Strangely it has never been referred to as a Tag Heuer when Max Verstappen or Ricciardo experienced issues.

So why the well-deserved praise at this point?

Let’s hope it is not a case of hedging the team’s bets in case the new Honda engine does not meet the aspirations of Red Bull.

Another done deal by Liberty Media, ignoring the comments of the previous Supremo of F1, Bernie Ecclestone.

The new F1 owners have apparently signed with local organisers in Vietnam to host a round of the F1 calendar in 2020.

Interesting if you consider that Ecclestone was reported as saying there were, “already too many races in that part of the world.” I could not agree more.

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