Seven-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez expects his recovery from shoulder surgery will take “all the winter” as the Spaniard faces a race against time to be fully fit for the Sepang shakedown in early February.
The Spaniard underwent successful surgery this week on the recurring shoulder injury he further damaged in the final GP of the season in Valencia.
He did compete in the post-season Jerez tests last week before having the operation and predicted his recovery will take him right up until February, when the first round of testing occurs in Sepang on the 1st of the month.
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Adding Daniel Ricciardo as a driver must only be the start of Renault’s levels of ambition, insists Nico Hulkenberg, who is expecting further progress from the team in 2019.
Renault ended 2018 as the best of the rest behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull but never showed the pace to actually challenge the big three for a podium, with their best finish in a grand prix being fifth.
The French car manufacturer has invested heavily to try and bridge that gap and Hulkenberg has stressed the importance of doing this over the European winter and that they must take advantage of the opportunities afforded by a big regulation change to the aerodynamics.
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“We have to [continue to progress],” said the German. “But it’s always really hard – it’s all speculation. We know what we do and I know it sounds not bad, but we’re in the darkness as to what the others find.
“Obviously the new front wing is kind of a soft reset for next year, as it’s quite different for the cars. So it’s really hard to gauge, but of course that’s where need to go, what we need to aim at.
“We need to eat a lot of the gap away and eat into it. As a factory team, we need to aim at making a big step.
“I think we’ve made a lot of good progress in a lot of areas, especially in team structure and putting the team in the right place to grow and to build in the next two years.
“But on the technical side, development side – just on the car – this year was not quite to our ambitions and what we were looking for. So that’s something we have to work on and get better at next year.
“But I think overall: last year P6, now P4 – I think that’s a healthy and good development.”
Carlos Sainz has hit back at Red Bull by insisting that McLaren will not be copying Red Bull’s chassis concept to improve the use of their Renault engine for the 2019 season.
McLaren were poor in 2018 and only the driving ability of the now-departed Fernando Alonso, who earned 50 of the team’s 62 points, prevented them from finishing lower than they arguably should have.
It was their first year with a Renault engine after splitting from Honda, who will now be providing Red Bull’s power for 2019, and because they struggled to compete so badly, it had been suggested that McLaren may emulate parts of the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
However Sainz, who move from Renault to McLaren to replace Alonso is adamant there is no truth in those claims.
“I think it’s very straightforward to say that the team is copying a chassis,” Sainz said.
“I’m sure there are ideas from all the teams that McLaren has looked at, but that happens in Formula One and in all the categories that I have raced in.”
Sainz also denied that Renault would be holding back their best engines for the factory team, for which they have high aspirations of breaking into the top three for, especially now Daniel Ricciardo has been recruited.
“The engine is the same, and when I tested that car I could prove that it is the same as is in the Renault. So that doesn’t bother me,” he added.
“I am convinced that Renault gives the same weapons to McLaren that they give for their own cars.
“I’m not worried for next year that we will not have good equipment.”