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Grosjean tips Renault and McLaren to jump midfield

  • Published on 28 Dec 2017 13:22
  • comments 10
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Romain Grosjean believes that Renault and McLaren will leap ahead of the midfield fight in 2018, and will not contest in the closely fought battle of 2017. Up until the final round, Renault, Toro Rosso and Haas all battled for sixth in the constructors' standings, with Renault coming out on top.

With Renault's steady improvements since its return to the grid continuing and McLaren switching from Honda power to Renault power, many expect them to make gains towards the front. However, Grosjean is optimistic that Haas can fight Force India and Williams, who are both powered by Mercedes. 

"Some teams are going to maybe have a less powerful power unit so one goes up one goes down," Grosjean said. "I think the best [approach] is to do our own work; we know where to improve, there's a few areas where we really need to focus on to get better.

"[We need to be] making sure the updates – when they're coming – are working and they have been well validated before," he continued. "[That would mean] we're not losing three months of time to bring something that actually doesn't bring what it's supposed to do, so that's an area, just an example.

"McLaren is going to be super strong next year and they have huge resources, probably the biggest factory in Formula 1. The Renault engine is a decent engine, they've had reliability issues but power-wise they're up there, Renault is a on a high, they've been developing pretty well and are in front of us already.

"The question is Williams and Force India; of course, McLaren I believe is going to be there with Red Bull, then it's going to be Renault. The question is Force India, Williams, ourselves and Toro Rosso with their new power unit."

 

Fergal Walsh

Replies (10)

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  • Kean

    Posts: 606

    He's leaving out Sauber, which suggests that he believes they will be at the back yet again. But I'm not so sure. They have bigger resources now, and towards the end of 2017 they improved compared to Toro Rosso and Haas. Next year they'll have a better power unit, they will probably have sorted the cooling issues they had in 2017, and since Alfa is their title sponsor they will have more help from Ferrari. I believe (and hope) that Sauber surprises and jumps Toro Rosso, Haas and Williams in the constructors championship.

    • + 0
    • Dec 28 2017 - 14:15
    • Kevin

      Posts: 4,465

      Nah.. I think they will compete with the midfield, but to jump Williams will be to much to ask. If they can beat Haas that’s a job well done. STR will largely depend on what Honda brings to the table... but I have high hopes they will finally deliver. We’ll see.

      Renault and McLaren will surely be fighting Red Bull. I think this can turn out to be a thrilling season if the top 5 turns out to be this close.

      • + 1
      • Dec 28 2017 - 15:23
    • Yeah, no way they'll beat Williams. I predict Haas vs Sauber. I have literally no idea where we'll find STR next year.

      • + 1
      • Dec 28 2017 - 16:36
  • Im not sure if Im ready to expect that much from McLaren. Reports from Boullier sound positive, but sadly I dont trust Boullier very much ever since he had a bout of the McLaren Brain Worm. And Im not ready to dismiss Force India as a serious upper midfield competitor, they've been very consistent, and I dont expect that to change now that they have more money to play with. Williams is more in the risk zone though.

    • + 1
    • Dec 28 2017 - 16:47
    • Barron

      Posts: 625

      We might get a surprise with Williams (aside of the fact we don’t know who their 2nd driver is yet), because it’s Paddy Lowe’s first car design for Williams. He was a bit hit or miss with McLaren but he still managed to design some winning cars in his time. In the end, it’s the resources & development race that are the key elements in the season (which might prove to be Williams’ Achilles Heel). Now, factor in 2 key but largely unknown quantities (the drivers) and to be honest I have absolutely no idea what Williams will do in 2018, but I hope they’re feisty...

      • + 0
      • Dec 29 2017 - 12:26
  • Pauli

    Posts: 140

    I except RB, Ferrari and Mercedes start season close to each other. If Mercedes is doing aero package redesign and manage to get it right then Mercedes could be consistently slightly faster (specially in qualification). RB would have good race pace but they would be behind red and silver cars in qualification because Renault doesn't offer as big qualification boost as other PUs. Of course Renault can develop an improved qualification mode but Mercedes is years ahead in the boost mode development (even compared to Ferrari)

    McLaren can be a surprise either way but I would except them to be about 0.3s (+-0.4s) behind RB. The largest question is how much their aero design is behind schedule because of PU change. Worst case scenario IMO is similar season to what RB had 2017. That means early races clearly losing to other top teams but then getting close to RB level around July-August.

    Renault is likely to keep improving enough to fill the cap between top 4 and midfield. They have been hiring people to work on the chassis side but their development speed so far haven't showed any indication that they could make improvements like RB last season. Realistic optimistic prediction would be that Renault can fight wit McLaren if McLaren is clearly behind in development leaving both teams about 0.7-1s behind pole. Pessimistic prediction would be a bit more behind pole battling with Force India in the begin of season but later on gaining an advantage because of larger budget.

    If force India can keep their key engineers I expect them keep designing a great car for their budget. That would likely put them to be 6th fastest team with a small cap to Renault. I don't think that they have budget to compete. I hope they can slightly reduce that cap to the pole because it will be very similar regulations for next season making it much harder for top teams to improve performance. Budget difference is still huge making it unlikely that Force India can make it to top 5 in 2018.

    STR is all about how Honda manages with performance and reliability. Even with Honda PU maybe allowing slightly better aero design but I still expect about 0.7-1.4s slower aero package than McLaren had this year. While Honda has been catching other Engines about 0.05s/month. That would mean engine deficit would still be about 0.5-1.2s to Force India in the begin of season.

    Rumors talked about Williams making a major aero design changes for next season. To me it sounds like Williams is pretty much wild card for the early season. If they get a new aero package right it can provide huge advantages to some tracks where it works much better than their previous package. But redesign always carries a risk that all details aren't working on time making it possible that Williams can't challenge Force India in the early season.

    Haas is a bit different team because they depend more on their technical partners. I wish they can keep impressive performance for a low budget. Maybe actually developer car until end of season which could allow them fight Williams and Force India for 6th place.

    Sauber is a wild card too. I don't think they have enough people to get out of the "bottom" on their own. Of course bottom can be next year a bit father from pole with STR losing performance and maybe dropping behind Sauber. Sauber have deepened their relation with Ferrari/Fiat which may or may not include technical partnership. If there is increased Technical support from Ferrari then they would be likely in a similar position as Haas. Of course just having a fresh Ferrari PU will make them much stronger than they were in the end of season with 2016 PUs.

    Short version of early season team order:
    1st-3rd: Mercedes, Ferrari and RB
    4th McLaren
    5th Renault
    6th-8th Force India, Williams and Haas
    9th Sauber
    10th Toro Rosso

    • + 2
    • Dec 28 2017 - 22:01
    • boudy

      Posts: 1,162

      Good post Pauli.

      • + 0
      • Dec 29 2017 - 11:47
    • Barron

      Posts: 625

      Yes that’s a good summation Pauli. No need to watch the 2018 season now! Haha..

      Unfortunately, I think Torro Rosso are further hampered by a poor driver line-up but let’s say the Honda PU makes progress, then I could well imagine that it will be Haas bringing up the rear because Dallara have never made a good F1 chassis, they’ve fallen out of favour with Ferrari since the wouldn’t take their drivers, and their development pace (as highlighted by Romain Grosjean) is painfully slow and wildly inaccurate. This is the fault of the Haas ‘Constructor’ business model. They will never get on level terms unless Haas becomes a full constructor and I can see them possibly dropping out of F1 sooner rather than later but maybe they’ll hang on for 2020 PU change and possible budget cap.

      • + 1
      • Dec 29 2017 - 12:37
    • Kean

      Posts: 606

      I’m hoping McLaren can fight the top 3, but it’s more likely they’ll be the lonely fourth. Further, I think that even if Renault improve, they’ll have a battle with Force India on their hands. Both teams have great drivers so hopefully we’ll see some great on-track action there. Regarding Haas, I have a feeling that they’ll have chassiproblems, like BARRON points out. Williams is a quandary, they do have Lowe in place and they’ve reported that their car will be different next year. I’ve found that Williams have had problems in recent years with their high downforce configurations, on low drag circuits they’ve fared well, but where high downforce is needed, as well as in the rain they have suffered. Also I have serious doubts about their driver line-up, so even if they build a car capable of fighting with Renault and Force India, I question whether their drivers will be able to get everything out of the car. All in all I don’t have much faith in Williams, I’m sorry to say, therefor I would put them in the same group as Haas and Sauber.
      1-3 Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull
      4 McLaren
      5-6 Renault, Force India
      7-9 Williams, Sauber, Haas
      10 Toro Rosso

      • + 0
      • Dec 29 2017 - 15:36
    • I agree with most of your points, but I'd likely switch Force India to fourth or fifth. And I especially find it unlikely that McLaren will beat Renault. Toro Rosso could very well be last, with or without a good Honda units, and as you suspect, I dont expect Sauber to be very strong. My personal list would be:
      1st-3rd; Mercedes, Ferrari and RB
      4th and 5th Force India and Renault
      6th and 7th Williams and McLaren
      8-10th Haas, Sauber and Toro Rosso

      • + 1
      • Dec 29 2017 - 17:30

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