August 11, 2022

Thursday

Fly Montreal from Brussels, hoping my Air Canada flight is on time. This is not the case – no surprise: in 10 round trips, I have not seen the airline respect its schedules – thus landing in Montreal two and a half hours late. This has ripple effects: after sorting out the paperwork and picking up my rental car, I’m hit by severe thunderstorms that lead to traffic jams, so I step aside to sort out the fallout from Technical guideline 39 of the car.

The wonders of modern technology, but that means I run four hours later than if the flight had been punctual, so I skip the circuit and head to my B&B. I went to bed early in accordance with my doctrine of splitting jet lag to reduce the effects of jet lag.

Interestingly, the immediate reaction to the TD that came from a team technical boss is telling: he texted that TD39 is a knee-jerk reaction from the governing body to the melodrama in Baku, which forced the FIA ​​to acting on “security grounds” when it’s actually an installation issue. “It’s more of an intention than a technical guideline,” he wrote.

“Where the last paragraph says the car may not comply with the regulations for this race is [strange]. If someone does [comply] they will be protested…”

Friday

Get up at 4am and catch up on paperwork before heading to the circuit. It feels like a three-year time warp: We last raced on Île Notre-Dame in 2019 and it seems nothing has changed. It’s still good to come back to Montreal because the race is one of my favorites.

It’s press conference time and it’s no surprise that drivers’ reactions to the TD39 depend on where their cars are on the “bounce back” scale: those who have no problem criticizing the guideline; those with bouncy cars are entirely in favor and the heavier the bounce the greater the deal.

The FIA ​​took action for ‘safety reasons’ but given that the cars are relatively benign with higher ride heights it seems like an accusation against the team bosses that they forced the FIA ​​to to run. It is therefore not surprising that at the end of the afternoon, the FIA ​​reversed course – as revealed here – indicating that insufficient data will have been collected by the end of Saturday FP3 – the cut-off point to check the cars for extreme oscillation.

That way they won’t penalize the Montreal teams, so Silverstone at the earliest – one of the smoothest tracks on the calendar. As with the jewelry saga, I wonder if the governing body will continue to delay the case until it’s off the radar?

I understand that Red Bull and Honda are about to announce an alternative engine agreement – which started out as a full works supply agreement for the two Red Bull teams and then turned into an internal project with Red Bull acquiring the intellectual rights and producing engines in Milton Keynes after Honda officially pulled out of F1 last year. When that proved tight, Honda agreed to supply “white label” engines from Japan.

However, the problem is intellectual property: by owning Honda’s intellectual property, Red Bull – even if the rights are not used – cannot be considered a new engine supplier under F1’s 2026 regulations, which grants development concessions to a newcomer, which Red Bull Powertrains, currently being set up in Milton Keynes, aims to be. The story goes that Red Bull will relinquish intellectual property rights, with Honda returning as a low-key supplier with a brand on the car.

It has always seemed strange that Red Bull owns intellectual property rights which it no longer intends to use, while Honda remains almost invisible despite supplying power units to the reigning world champion. Honda’s approach to F1 over the years has been one of F1’s biggest mysteries. The question, however, will giving up intellectual property rights be enough for Red Bull to be seen as a newcomer in the eyes of the opposition?

Speaking of engines, the F1 program offered by the VW Group via Porsche and Audi has gone rather quiet after a series of bullish comments. While the F1 folks remain confident that at least one of the brands will enter 2026, no deal has been confirmed. This is worrying: sales of the European VW group fell 22% in May compared to 13% for the rest of the automotive industry. It’s easier for boards to say ‘no’ than ‘yes’ when it comes to F1.

After FP2, heavy rain hits again, but not as fiercely as Thursday’s thunderstorms. The forecast had been for dry skies, indicating how unpredictable Montreal weather is. They say Saturday is wet and Sunday is dry, so let’s see…