Section: Mclaren

F1: McLaren driver Fernando Alonso to return for Malaysian GP

Fernando Alonso will return to racing at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, if he is given the all-clear by doctors, his McLaren team say.

The double world champion missed the season opener in Australia on 15 March to recover from concussion suffered in an accident in pre-season testing.

McLaren said in a statement Alonso, 33, felt his steering go heavy before the crash, which is so far unexplained.

The team will fit the car with an extra sensor to gather data.

McLaren said the decision was made following Alonso’s visit to the McLaren factory last week, when he drove the simulator and went over the data from the accident with the team’s engineers.

“While there was nothing evident in the extensive car telemetry data, nor anything abnormal in the subsequent reconstructions and laboratory tests, Fernando recalls a sense of ‘heavy’ steering prior to the accident,” McLaren said.

“Consequently, the team has fitted an additional sensor to the car, to increase our data capture.

“Fernando is very much looking forward to getting back into the car and making a substantial contribution to our collective efforts with Honda, to accelerate the required improvement to our on-track performance.”

Alonso has decided to fly to Malaysia for the race following medical tests by three eminent doctors at Cambridge University on Sunday.

His manager would not confirm Alonso had passed the tests and McLaren made no reference to them in their statement.

However, the driver was given the all-clear and now faces only the official test by governing body the FIA’s medical delegate and the Sepang circuit’s chief medical officer before being allowed to race.

It is considered highly unlikely that he would fail these having passed the tests in Cambridge, which are also part of the FIA’s programme for drivers returning from injury.

“Since his Barcelona testing accident, Fernando has followed a rigorous, specialised training programme, designed and closely monitored by leading sports scientists, to ensure his safe and timely return to racing,” McLaren said.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: McLaren driver Fernando Alonso to miss Australian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso will not compete at the Australian Grand Prix on the recommendation of doctors as he continues to recover from his testing crash in Barcelona.

Alonso spent three nights in hospital after being knocked unconscious during the second test and sat out the final four days in Barcelona on medical advice. McLaren said last week the Spaniard had yet to be cleared for the race but remained confident he would be.

On Tuesday McLaren confirmed tests had found “no evidence whatsoever of any injury” but that doctors had recommended the Spaniard sit out the opening round of 2015 to minimise the chances of second impact syndrome. The statement said doctors had conducted “an exhaustive series of tests” which found him entirely healthy from a neurological and cardiac perspective.

The statement went on to say: “Fernando’s doctors have recommended to him that, following the concussion he sustained in a testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 22nd, for the time being he should seek to limit as far as is possible any environmental risk factors that could potentially result in his sustaining another concussion so soon after his previous one, so as to minimise the chances of second impact syndrome, as is normal medical procedure when treating athletes after concussions.

“In order to limit those environmental risk factors, specifically, his doctors have advised that he should not compete in the imminent Australian Grand Prix meeting, which will take place on March 13th, 14th and 15th.”

Reserve driver Kevin Magnussen, the man Alonso replaced last December, will replace the Spaniard for the season opener. McLaren says doctors are supportive of Alonso’s ambitions of returning to the car for the second race in Malaysia.

Read more at ESPN

GT: McLaren signs Senna to GT roster

McLaren GT has signed former F1 driver Bruno Senna to its factory roster for 2015.

The Brazilian, whose late uncle Ayrton Senna who won three drivers’ championships during an iconic tenure with the McLaren marquee, joins Alvaro Parente, Rob Bell and Kevin Estre. Senna will undertake development duties with the new McLaren 650S GT3 racer and Sprint model, as well as racing in select events.

Senna spent three years in Formula One but failed to live up to the lofty expectations attached to his surname, though he has since raced in the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours as well as competing in the inaugural Formula E championship season.

“It is a great honour for me to be joining McLaren; a team my uncle enjoyed such huge success with, and one of the most famous names in motorsport,” Senna said. “2015 is a big year for the whole of McLaren, and it is an exciting time to be part of everything that is taking place.

“I am looking forward to working with the team at McLaren GT who I had a chance to get to know when I raced at the Spa 24 hour a couple of years ago, and I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the new 650S. A lot of effort has gone into the development of the car since the 12C GT3, which I raced, and it made a big impression on its debut at the end of last season. It is shaping up to be a big year ahead.”

Senna raced a predecessor of the 650S, the McLaren 12C GT3, at the 24 Hours of Spa in 2013.

Read more at ESPN

F1: McLaren launches new Honda powered MP4-30

McLaren-Honda’s hotly-anticipated MP4-30 was revealed to the world via an online launch ahead of the new car’s first test in Jerez next week.

The MP4-30 marks a new era for McLaren as it returns to Honda power and welcomes Fernando Alonso back to the team. The exclusive engine deal will see McLaren go its own way with Honda power after 20 years of working with Mercedes and carries the hopes of future championship success for both Alonso and Jenson Button.

The MP4-30 features an elegant solution to F1’s new nose regulations rather than the stubby ‘thumb’ interpretation seen on the latest Williams and Force India. The team claims the rear of the car is more tightly packaged, especially around the gearbox, although cooling remains one of the biggest challenges for all teams under the current engine regulations.

Little is known about the new Honda power unit and it has only completed very limited mileage at a filming day and during a two-day post-season test in Abu Dhabi last year. However, team boss Ron Dennis is confident the Honda partnership will bring the team back to the front of the grid.

“McLaren Technology Group is driven by the relentless pursuit of technological perfection, and, perhaps more than any other element of our portfolio, Formula One, which is the remit and responsibility of McLaren Racing, and now McLaren-Honda, most famously epitomises that,” Dennis said.

“McLaren-Honda is a partnership focused on performance, technology and innovation, and there’s no better example of that than the results achieved in our first collaboration in the 1980s and 1990s. I was Team Principal all those years ago and, while I don’t tend to like looking back to the past, our previous record of sustained success was certainly instrumental in creating the confidence to make the decision to partner with Honda again. Now, there’s real hunger to demonstrate the capabilities of the huge talent pool we share between us, and I’m totally committed to driving progress and achieving further success.

“Although our renewed alliance began again many months ago, the launch of the McLaren-Honda MP4-30 marks the start of a lengthy journey. We’ve come a long way already and, although there’s a lot of work to do before we can expect to repeat the level of success we enjoyed together 25-or-so years ago, it’s already clear that there’s enormous synergy and potential in our partnership, and I’m positive that, together, we’ll get to where we want to be: winning Grands Prix and eventually World Championships as McLaren-Honda.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: Alonso to debut McLaren MP4-30 at Jerez

Fernando Alonso will be the first man to test the new McLaren car as the team begin their engine partnership with Honda.

The Spaniard will drive the MP4-30 on the first day of the first pre-season test, at Jerez, Spain, on 1-4 February.

Team-mate Jenson Button will test it on the second and fourth days, with Alonso driving on the third.

Alonso, 33, who has joined from Ferrari, wrote on social media that he was “ready to enjoy the challenge”.


McLaren are taking a similar approach to testing to Mercedes, for whom Nico Rosberg drives on the first day of testing before alternating with world champion Lewis Hamilton thereafter.

McLaren will unveil their new car online on 29 January, a day before the wraps come off the 2015 Ferrari, also via the internet.

Mercedes are to wait until the morning of 1 February before revealing their new W06.

Williams on Wednesday became the first team to release images of their new car.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Honda wins Formula 1 engine battle with FIA

McLaren’s new engine partner Honda has won its fight to be allowed to develop its engine during 2015.

Formula 1’s governing body the FIA has backtracked on an earlier rulingthat allowed Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari to upgrade their engines but not Honda.

The move comes after Honda expressed its unhappiness about what it considered to be an unfair situation.

Honda will now be allowed to develop its brand new engine within limits explicitly laid out by the FIA.

What can Honda do?

Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari are allowed to change up to 48% of the engines they used in 2014 by the end of the 2015 season.

This is defined by a number of ‘tokens’, which are assigned to parts of the engine on the basis of their influence on performance.

Out of a total of 66 tokens, Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari can modify 32 through 2015.

Previously Honda had been barred from changing any of its engine after it was approved for competition on 28 February.

Friday’s ruling will allow Honda to change a given amount of its engine calculated by the average of the number of tokens unused by the other manufacturers by the time of the first race in Australia on 16 March.

In the example given by FIA race director Charlie Whiting, he writes: “If the three 2014 manufacturers have eight, seven and five unused tokens respectively at the start of the season, then the new manufacturer will be allowed to use six during the season (the average rounded down to the nearest whole number)”.

Why has this been done?

Honda, which is the first new engine manufacturer to enter F1 for well over a decade, had been concerned that it was not being treated fairly.

Its senior management flew over from Japan to meet the FIA on Monday to express its concerns at the situation.

This followed the decision by the FIA to allow Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari to use their 32 development tokens over the course of the 2015 season, rather than by the originally intended approval date of 28 February.

That came after Ferrari, who had the worst engine in 2014, pointed out to the FIA that the rules did not clearly define when the modified engines for 2015 should be submitted for approval.

Whiting admitted in his note to the teams on Friday evening that that ruling left “unaddressed uncertainty” within the rules on the permitted engine development.

The FIA’s decision also takes into account the opinions of Honda’s rivals that it had an advantage inherent in entering a year late in that it knew a target to aim for, because it was aware of the performance of the rival engines in 2014.

By contrast, Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari were shooting in the dark before 2014, when the new turbo hybrid engine formula, with accompanying fuel restriction, was introduced.

What number of tokens will Honda have available?

None of the three existing manufacturers are expected to start the season with an engine that uses all 32 development tokens.

Mercedes are in the best position, but both Renault and to an even greater extent Ferrari will leave substantial leeway to make major changes to their engine architecture during the season as they are both behind where they wanted to be in terms of development.

It is unclear exactly how much Honda will be able to develop its engine, but the latest FIA ruling and the positions of its rivals mean it is likely to have a significant amount of development available.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Bosses consider Honda engine rule changes

Formula 1 bosses are debating whether to make changes to the engine rules following a meeting with McLaren’s new partner Honda.

The Japanese company, returning to F1 after a six-year absence, believes recent changes made the rules unfair.

Honda top brass flew over from Japan to discuss the issue with governing body the FIA on Monday.

An FIA spokesman told BBC Sport: “The meeting went well and we are discussing matters that arose.”

The spokesman added that the meeting was “constructive”.

Honda’s concerns surround a recent clarification on in-season engine development.

The FIA has backtracked on its previous stance and allowed existing manufacturers Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault to make improvements to their engines after the start of the championship.

The FIA’s U-turn came about because Ferrari pointed out a loophole in the rules.

Honda, though, is not being allowed to develop its engine during the season.

A Honda spokeswoman said the company would not add to its previous statement on the issue “until we can get a further update from FIA should they reveal something”.

Its previous statement said: “Honda believes in fair competition for the goodness of the sport, and for our fans.

“McLaren-Honda have contacted the FIA in regard to this issue, but we cannot discuss any details at this time.”

Honda believes the rules are unfair because:

– Its rivals can develop their engines in 2015 following the FIA’s U-turn but it cannot

– It is being forced to supply only four engines to its drivers in 2015, the same as the other manufacturers, even though its rivals were allowed to supply five in their first season with their new engines in 2014

– Next year, it has the same restrictions on it as the other manufacturers

Insiders say Honda is “annoyed and unimpressed” with the situation.

Some insiders believe one way out of the current situation would be to bring Honda into line with the other manufacturers over the course of this season.

This could be done by allowing Honda to submit for official approval – or homologate – its engine on 28 February, as required, but then be given 32 tokens to develop it over the course of the season.

It would then be in the same position relative to its rivals heading into 2016 as they are.

Some F1 insiders have argued that the current situation sends out a poor message to any other car manufacturers thinking of entering F1 because it could be seen as putting new entrants at an automatic and unfair disadvantage.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: McLaren-Honda set for January 29 launch

The new McLaren-Honda will be break cover on January 29 via an online launch.

The car will be the first McLaren powered by a Honda engine since 1992 as the Japanese manufacturer returns to F1 this year with a brand new V6 turbo power unit.

Known as the MP4-30, the 2015 car will carry the hopes of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button and will make its public debut on January 29 ahead of the first day of testing on February 1 in Jerez.


Read more at ESPN

F1: Mercedes & McLaren to change colours in 2015

New year, new colours according to reports.

At least two top teams will enter the 2015 season with fundamentally different colour schemes, it has emerged.

Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo reports that new reigning champions Mercedes intend to switch from silver to a striking mirror-like chrome paint-job this year.

The report said the special chrome paint for the 2015 livery is called ‘Kromo’, and will also be supplied to wheel supplier OZ for the title-defending W06 raced by world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The same Spanish sports newspaper reports that with Mercedes stepping up its iconic silver look, Woking based McLaren is tipped for a complete livery U-turn in 2015.

McLaren turned silver in 1997, at the height of its works collaboration with Mercedes, but now the famous British team is kicking off its new era with Honda.

El Mundo Deportivo reported: “Honda does not want (McLaren) to continue with silver because it is a colour immediately associated with Mercedes and the ‘Silver Arrows’.

“There are rumours the (2015) car could be orange, McLaren’s traditional colour, for testing. But it could also be white, in a double-tribute: to Honda and also because McLaren’s first F1 car was that colour” in 1966.

“The final choice could depend largely on whether McLaren has a major sponsor in 2015 or not,” the report added.


F1: Honda excluded as engine upgrades allowed in 2015

FIA regulations are too unclear for the sanctioning body to be forcing teams to freeze engine development.

F1 newcomer Honda has been left out as rival engine suppliers prepare to develop their turbo V6 power units throughout the 2015 season.

It has emerged in recent days that, because the wording of the regulations is unclear, the sport’s 2014 suppliers Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari do not in fact have to present in Melbourne an engine to be ‘frozen’ for this year’s entire world championship.

“Everything depends on the interpretation of the rules,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this week.

It is believed the loophole was discovered by Ferrari, and then backed in subsequent meetings by fellow engine straggler Renault.

“The FIA offered its version (of the rules interpretation),” Wolff added, “and I do not see any problems.

“Certainly the freezing of engines in February is best for those who are at the front,” said the Mercedes chief, whose Brackley team utterly dominated last year, “but we are able to develop too.”

What’s good for the goose…
Crucially, however, F1’s engine newcomer Honda will not be able to develop throughout 2015.

That is because the rules make clear that, for new engine suppliers under the turbo V6 rules that were implemented in 2014, a clear start-of-season homologation date is set: 28 February.

No such homologation date exists, however, for engine suppliers’ second year under the new rules.

It means Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault can deploy their 32 performance development ‘tokens’ throughout the entire 2015 season. Honda cannot.

Writing in Germany’s authoritative Auto Motor und Sport, highly respected correspondent Michael Schmidt said: “Newcomers (like Honda) have no tokens in the first year.

“Until their engine is homologated at the end of February, they are completely free to develop, but after that they may only upgrade on grounds of reliability, cost or safety,” he explained.

Schmidt continued: “McLaren boss Ron Dennis already expressed his concern at the recent Strategy Group meeting that the rules discriminate against his new engine partner.”