Tag: 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: ‘Unpredictable winds’ to blame for Alonso crash

McLaren has clarified Fernando Alonso’s crash in Barcelona occurred due to unpredictable gusty winds at the circuit and confirmed the Spaniard is making a “solid recovery” in hospital.

Alonso was airlifted to hospital on the final day of the second test for precautionary tests after suffering a concussion following a crash at the exit of Turn 3. After the crash speculative reports suggested Alonso had fainted or lost consciousness at the wheel before the accident due to the distance between initial contact with the wall and where he stopped, though this contradicted official statements from both the team and the Spaniard’s management.

In a statement released on Monday McLaren categorically denied any electrical shock occurred inside the car and instead blamed the high winds at the circuit on Sunday, which later in the day caught out Alonso’s compatriot Carlos Sainz at the same part of the circuit. McLaren also confirmed Alonso had been applying full brakes before impact with the wall.

“Over the past 24 hours, we have been carrying out a detailed analysis of the damage to Fernando’s car, and its associated telemetry data, in order fully to understand the cause, or causes, of his accident,” the statement said. “Even at this early stage, we have been able to reach some firm conclusions.

“His car ran wide at the entry to Turn 3 – which is a fast uphill right-hander – allowing it to run onto the Astroturf that lines the outside of the track. A consequent loss of traction caused a degree of instability, spitting it back towards the inside of the circuit, where it regained traction and struck the wall side-on. Our findings indicate that the accident was caused by the unpredictably gusty winds at that part of the circuit at that time, and which had affected other drivers similarly (eg, Carlos Sainz Jnr).

“We can categorically state that there is no evidence that indicates that Fernando’s car suffered mechanical failure of any kind. We can also confirm that absolutely no loss of aerodynamic pressure was recorded, which fact indicates that the car did not suffer any aerodynamic loss, despite the fact that it was subjected to a significant level of g-force. Finally, we can also disclose that no electrical discharge or irregularity of any kind occurred in the car’s ERS system, either before, during or after the incident.

“That last point refutes the erroneous rumours that have spread recently to the effect that Fernando was rendered unconscious by an electrical fault. That is simply not true. Our data clearly shows that he was downshifting while applying full brake pressure right up to the moment of the first impact – something that clearly would not have been possible had he been unconscious at the time.”

Alonso, who suffered a concussion in the crash, was taken to hospital as a precaution after his crash and McLaren is yet to make a decision on his involvement in the final Barcelona test which begins on Thursday.

alonso-ok

“In hospital a thorough and complete analysis of his condition was performed, involving CT scans and MRI scans, all of which were completely normal. In order to provide the privacy and tranquillity required to facilitate a peaceful recuperation, he is being kept in hospital for further observation, and to recover from the effects of the medication that successfully managed his routine sedation yesterday. We intend to give him every opportunity to make a rapid and complete recovery, and will evaluate in due course whether or not he will participate in the next Barcelona test.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: Barcelona Test: Day 1: Maldonado tops eventful first day

Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado topped a scrappy opening day at the second pre-season test in Barcelona, which featured the unusual sight of two cars colliding and saw McLaren and Mercedes hampered by problems.

Maldonado leapt to the top of the timing screen with a 1:25.011 less than one hour from the chequered flag, a lap he set on the soft tyre. Maldonado had a frustrating start with two separate stoppages out on track in the morning but the red flag waving was not limited solely to Lotus.

There was more woe for McLaren-Honda as a faulty seal on the MGU-K forced the team to change the whole power unit and end its first day early. Jenson Button’s start had been promising as he accumulated 21 laps in the first two hours but it was yet another setback for McLaren and its new engine partner.

mclaren-faulty-seal

There was also early difficulty for reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who completed just 11 laps before ending his day early due to a fever. A neck injury for Nico Rosberg meant Mercedes had to wait until after lunch for reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, who completed 32 laps in the morning driving Force India’s 2014 car, to step into the breach. A fuel pump problem after lunch hampered Mercedes further, but Wehrlein managed to add another 48 laps before the close of play.

The afternoon session started with an unusual sight for testing as two cars collided. Damage to the left front of Susie Wolff’s Williams and the right rear of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber was the tell-tale sign the two had come together on the run down to Turn 5, with the Sauber beached in the gravel just before the tyre barrier. It is unclear exactly what happened in the crash, though Wolff was on an out-lap when it occurred. Nasr and Wolff both made it out for late runs but the Sauber finished the session early when it stopped at Turn 9, an incident which brought out a late red flag.

wolff-nasr-crash

Kimi Raikkonen continued Ferrari’s solid start to winter testing, completing 73 laps, though it is still hard to gauge whether the team has made inroads to Mercedes because fuel loads are unknown. However, it will be another morale boosting day of testing after topping three of the four days in Jerez earlier this month.

Daniel Ricciardo had been at the foot of the timesheets for much of the morning without recording a time, but the camouflaged Red Bull was one of the more active participants after lunch. The Australian accumulated 58 laps, though rarely in stints longer than five or six at a time. Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen also had a disjointed morning and early afternoon but still clocked 93 laps overall with some solid running late in the day. Sergio Perez continued Wehrlein’s good work in the afternoon at Force India and by the end of the session had recorded a 1:26.636 to go 4th, although headline times are still of limited significance.

1. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:25.011 69 Laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:25.167 73 Laps
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:25.547 58 Laps
4. Sergio Perez Force India 1:26.636 39 laps
5. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.307 78 Laps
6. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.900 93 Laps
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.182 21 Laps
8. Pascal Wehrlein Force India 1:28.329 32 Laps
9. Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 1:29.489 48 Laps
10. Susie Wolff Williams 1:28.906 83 laps
11. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.429 11 Laps

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: Jerez Test Day 3: Nasr quickest as McLaren-Honda makes limited progress

The third day of pre-season testing in Jerez saw Sauber’s Felipe Nasr at the top of the timesheets, while McLaren made limited progress with its new Honda-powered MP4-30 and Red Bull were delayed by a lengthily Renault engine change.

Of more significance to Sauber will be the 108 laps completed by Nasr as his lap time was still 0.5s shy of the benchmark set by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on Monday. However, the quick lap will go some way to boosting his confidence after spinning into the gravel early in the session. The track was damp at the start of the morning but slowly dried under overcast skies to allow slick running for the majority of the day. Nasr’s nearest competitor was Kimi Raikkonen, who got his first taste of the Ferrari SF15-T. After two days of improvement with Vettel at the wheel, the Ferrari lap count increased again to 92 despite a slow start.

With the Mercedes W06’s Monday water leak fixed, Nico Rosberg added another 151 to his count on Tuesday to bring his combined total to 308 over two days in the car this week. The day was not quite faultless as the engine shutdown during one of his runs around lunch, but it did not keep the car in the pits for long. For what it’s worth, he set the third fastest time, 0.232s off Nasr’s time.

day3-rosberg-issues

McLaren had a productive morning, with Fernando Alonso matching the lap count of the previous two days in the first two hours, eventually finishing the day on 31. However, a loss of cooling water pressure that required a lengthily investigation of the Honda power unit and ended the day early.

Following two unproductive days with engine issues and a broken wing on Monday, Red Bull had another frustrating session when, after five laps, it had to change the Renault power unit in the RB11. The car made it back on track to notch up 48 laps in total, and although it is an improvement on last year, the team will be hoping for plenty of problem-free laps with Daniil Kvyat at the wheel on Wednesday.

Felipe Massa got his first taste of F1 2015 with Williams as the team completed another solid day with 71 laps. Carlos Sainz had a very productive day in the Renault-powered Toro Rosso with 136 laps, the second most after Rosberg. Pastor Maldonado was back in the Lotus and notched up 96 laps before stopping on track on the final run of the day.

Day Three Times:
1. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:21.545 108 laps 
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:21.750 92 laps 
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:21.982 151 laps 
4. Felipe Massa Williams 1:22.276 71 laps 
5. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:22.713 96 laps
6. Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 1:23.187 136 laps 
7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:23.901 48 laps 
8. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:35.553 32 laps

Read more at ESPN

F1: Jerez Test Day 3: Mileage a ‘huge relief’ for McLaren

Racing director Eric Boullier said McLaren’s 32 laps on Tuesday were a “huge relief” after tracking down and fixing the problem that kept the team from running more than 12 laps on the first two days of testing in Jerez.

Even though the day was stopped short when a water leak popped up and forced the team to remove the Honda engine, Boullier said McLaren counted Tuesday’s efforts as progress. The team is expecting to be running again on Wednesday morning.

“It was very important and a huge relief,” Boullier said. “Ever since last night we are a little bit happier after the last lap of Jenson [on Monday] because we believed we had fixed the issues, but as I said yesterday, sometimes you just open the Pandora’s box and you pick up one and another one is coming. This morning it was just a relief to see the car getting out of the garage at 9:00 and running actually faultlessly for a few hours.”

Boullier said McLaren could have got the car back out on track at the end of the day but the team decided to focus its efforts on Wednesday.

“[Today] was a completely different. The reason why we didn’t run in the afternoon is different. It’s a third party component that created a water cooling leak. We had to take the engine open and everything to change it because it’s in the middle. We could have run, maybe, half an hour at the end of the day but we decided to stop the day and run properly tomorrow. The main issues are now away.”

However, to give an indication of how far behind McLaren is at this stage, Boullier said the team had completed less than 50% of its target for this test.

“It’s not enough, obviously. We are maybe less than 50%. But it’s better than nothing and at least operationally we have covered everything we wanted. The good thing as well is that the car is running, as you saw in the morning, 10 laps in a row so we have no design concept or conceptual issues or architectural issues with the car. The cooling is working, everything is fine.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: McLaren forced to end ‘encouraging’ day early

McLaren has been forced to cut short its third day of testing in Jerez due to a water cooling issue, ending its best day of pre-season so far.

After completing only a handful of laps on Sunday and Monday, McLaren finally got some mileage under its belt. Fernando Alonso completed 32 laps before lunch and at lunch tweeted: “Encouragaing morning here at the test! 32 laps. We keep learning about the car.”

However, shortly after lunch McLaren confirmed it would not be returning to the circuit on Wednesday. Jenson Button will take over for the final day tomorrow.
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”.

alonso-to-debut-2015-car-tweet

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