Holden has confirmed its commitment to Supercars and motorsport in Australia by announcing a new three-year deal with Triple Eight Race Engineering to form the Red Bull Holden Racing Team from 2017.
Holden also announced that the next-generation Commodore will be on the Supercar grid from 2018. The new factory-backed Red Bull Holden Racing Team will develop, build, race and win with the next-generation Commodore Supercar from 2018.
This announcement also confirms that as part of Holden’s ongoing brand and business evolution, it will move to a single factory-backed race team from 2017 onwards.
Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Bernhard, said he was thrilled to be confirming that Holden is committed to Australian motorsport and Supercars for the next three years, and is proud to be partnering with Red Bull and Triple Eight Race Engineering.
“Motorsport has played a significant role in Holden’s heritage and we’re proud to be carrying on that tradition with the new Red Bull Holden Racing Team, while reshaping our brand and presence in the market and in motorsport. We’re taking our company forward.
“I’d also like to thank and pay homage to Walkinshaw Racing with whom we have shared a proud history over many years,” said Bernhard.
“We’ll also continue to help Walkinshaw wherever we can. We support every Holden team in pit lane through various avenues such as marketing support, technical support, sponsorship acquisition, even down to helping design certain race liveries. We’ll continue that with Walkinshaw and I wish them all the best. Our relationship with Walkinshaw remains strong and we are working closely on future road vehicle initiatives as part of our ongoing partnership with HSV.
“Fans around the country will see the new Red Bull Holden Racing Team on the grid from next year but I’m especially excited about our next-generation Commodore hitting the racetrack in 2018. Australia can rest assured that our next-gen Commodore will live up to the iconic nameplate, on and off the track.
“Triple Eight is the most successful team of the modern era, they are simply the best at what they do. We’re very proud to continue our partnership with them,” said Bernhard.
Daniel Ricciardo has announced himself happy with the first day of running with his new Red Bull-Renault RB11. He ended the day fourth fastest, behind former team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Sauber’s surprise package Marcus Ericsson and Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. Ricciardo logged 35 laps, but did suffer battery and engine problems during the opening day.
“It seemed OK, we got going pretty well this morning and got a few laps under my belt,” said Ricciardo. “We didn’t do a whole lot of laps, but more than last year! The boys got the car ready overnight, and everything is behaving as it should. “A good day one, and we will keep improving from here. First impressions are good, so far, everything seems pretty encouraging. “There are some positive signs today. We understand what we’re running here, and it’s good. We still need to refine driveability, but generally it’s positive. Too early to say [if it’s a big step forward] but I think it is.”
Ricciardo admitted he felt that Renault had made a step with the engine, but was also impressed with the huge amount of laps that Rosberg ran (157) with the Mercedes. “Its not really a surprise, they had a pretty awesome package last year,” he said. “But that’s a lot of laps for day one, yeah!”
Mercedes and Williams have officially unveiled their cars in the Jerez pitlane this morning, although we’d already seen both cars from previously released images. Nico Rosberg will drive the Mercedes today, with Valtteri Bottas in the Williams. In terms of a proper new reveal, we should get our first view of the Red Bull RB11, a car with which ace designer Adrian Newey has already played down expectations as he has said engine supplier Renault is chasing a 60bhp deficit to Mercedes. “It’s been very much about understanding what we learned last season and setting about optimizing the car from those lessons,” said Newey, who takes a “step back” from his F1 duties this year. “It’s fair to say that our Achilles Heel last year was the power from the engine. It takes time to overthrow an advantage like that.
“I think we should be realistic about our expectations this year. Renault are doing a fantastic job at working away at reducing that, I’m confident they’ll meet the challenge, but it’s about reducing that deficit. We can score the odd win, but we can’t count on it. It’s about building for the future.” New chief designer Rob Marshall added: “Last year’s car was a very new car; the regulations changes were very comprehensive. "We’ve identified the areas where we can make improvements and we’ve worked hard on those. So basically there will not be a great deal that’s visible to the naked eye, but a lot of work’s gone on to those bits that are hidden. “We were firmly beaten last year, we know we need to improve on both sides. If we can do enough with the engine, and enough on the chassis side, then hopefully we can compete and win some more races.”
Daniel Ricciardo will get the first run in the car today, with new team-mate Daniil Kvyat installed tomorrow. Vettel’s first taste of the Ferrari will give him a scale of the task ahead of him, as he attempts to succeed where Fernando Alonso failed. Speaking of the Spaniard, we will see him in action too as McLaren kicks off its new Honda generation. Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz Jr takes the wheel of the new Toro Rosso, with Pastor Maldonado scheduled to run for Lotus, but not in its new E23 as it doesn't appear to be ready. Caterham refugee Marcus Ericsson will drive the freshly-livered Sauber.
Force India have not attended this test, and neither has Manor (formerly Marussia) or Caterham, the future of both appearing to be bleak.