Tag: McLaren

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: Williams recruits Button’s engineer to work with Massa

Williams has poached Jenson Button’s old race engineer from McLaren to work with Felipe Massa this season.

Dave Robson was Button’s engineer from 2010 to midway through last year, but has now joined Williams to work under head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley. Robson’s appointment has kicked off a reshuffle in the Williams engineering department with Andrew Murdoch, Massa’s old engineer, being promoted to senior performance engineer, a largely factory-based role but one that will also see him work with Valtteri Bottas at the track.

Jonathan Eddolls remains as Bottas’ race engineer while Carl Gaden has been promoted from chief mechnanic – a role he has held for 22 years – to senior car systems engineer. Mark Pattinson, previously No.1 mechanic to Massa, will take over the role of chief mechanic.

“Off the back of a great 2014 campaign Williams is determined to continue this positive momentum into the new season, and these recent changes show our commitment to that goal,” chief technical officer Pat Symonds said. “We are proud to be able to promote our existing talent to help strengthen every area within our engineering team and we will continue to invest in new talent where necessary to ensure we have the support and resources to achieve our on-track ambitions throughout 2015 and beyond. Our engineering team for the coming season is looking strong and I’m excited to get the new season underway.”

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.

Read more at motorsport.com

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.”

Read more at motorsport.com

F1: Prodromou last part of McLaren puzzle

Eric Boullier says the re-capture of Peter Prodromou from Red Bull is the “final part of the puzzle”

Prodromou, who re-joined McLaren as chief engineer in September after eight years as a chief aerodynamicist at Red Bull, has already been credited with helping the Woking team end 2014 strongly in terms of aerodynamic development.

He will have far greater influence over the MP4-30 – the first car of the new McLaren-Honda works engine partnership, and the team’s racing director Boullier described Prodromou as a key asset as McLaren attempts to end a win drought that stretches back to 2012.

“He is definitely a key signing – all the aero department has been restructured bearing in mind I knew he was coming,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT.

“In the back of the mind we knew that Podromou would be like the cherry on the top of the cake.

“His name is very famous in the pitlane and he has brought a lot of freshness and extra leadership in the aero and technical departments.

“Everybody was placed, we were just waiting for the master to sit down.

“Now they click together and we have a strong group led by Peter.

“He is the final part of the puzzle.”

Read more at Yahoo Sport

F1: Reliability not performance Honda’s biggest challenge

Ron Dennis says the Honda engine that will power McLaren next season already has impressive performance and that the main concern will be making it reliable.

Honda has been working on its new V6 turbo hybrid power units for two years but comes into the sport one year after rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault first ran theirs on track. This season Mercedes had a significant performance advantage over its rivals, but Dennis is confident Honda will not be lagging behind in that respect.

“The challenge for our partner Honda is hitting dates and reliability,” he said. “The performance is pretty impressive but of course I can’t share that with you.”

Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai is confident McLaren Honda will be able to challenge at the very front of the grid from the first race in Australia.

“The new regulation package is very very complex,” Arai said. “In Abu Dhabi we did a test and got many data and in that we were already one team as McLaren Honda. I have a strong confidence with our partnership we will win next year in Melbourne and start a new era.”

Dennis said he had been most impressed by Honda’s approach to designing and building the new power units at its base in Sakura, Japan.

“Going back to Sakura, it’s hard to describe just how impressive Honda’s motorsport R&D facilities are. The best way to describe the commitment is not to describe the actual facilities, but to share with you that the geography of Sakura is quite a long way – an hour on a high-speed train – from Tokyo, it’s been built in virgin land so it’s a magnificent facility, but of course that has required some of the most senior technical staff to relocate and move their families to this area. That isn’t an easy decision for companies or technical people to take.

“You see that and you see the commitment and sharpness that these group of engineers have and the facilities. For example they have a very impressive mission control facility – we have one here [at McLaren] where your technical staff and back-up staff, sit, watch and participate in every aspect of the race wherever it is taking place in the world – but of course with Japan the time change is significant with most of the races. So away from mission control they have the facilities for 50 people to sleep and a restaurant to support them specifically so they can be there and be sharp when the race is taking place – this sort of detail and commitment is far more indicative of where we are going than the fact of having 30 of the latest and greatest dynamometers.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: McLaren and Sauber pass 2015 crash tests

McLaren and Sauber have announced in recent weeks that their 2015 chassis have passed mandatory FIA crash tests.

McLaren is preparing for the return of Honda next year, but has also overhauled its chassis and aerodynamic teams in an attempt to stop the rot that has seen it fail to win a race since 2012. At its recent driver announcement of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, team boss Ron Dennis said good progress had been made on the chassis side and aerodynamically the team had benefitted from running some new parts during practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On the car side, we have just gone through all our crash tests, we are well ahead on programme and the critical test in Abu Dhabi absolutely gave us true north in terms of where we need to go aerodynamically,” he said. “Recently [chief designer] Peter Prodromou has joined the company and has been absolutely fundamental in determining what true north is aerodynamically.

“Clearly when that compass heading stabilises it gives you a clear indication that the direction you were going in is completely wrong and of course that manifests itself as an uncompetitive car. Ultimately, I think we are well equipped and the key ingredient to optimise the car-chassis performance is possibly the best driver line-up that’s ever existed in Formula One.”

On Thursday Sauber also confirmed its 2015 car had passed its chassis crash tests, a positive step after the team made no secret of its financial struggles last year.


Read more at ESPN

F1: Alonso sees podiums as realistic target in 2015

Fernando Alonso says McLaren Honda has to be realistic about its chances next year and believes scoring podiums is a reasonable goal.

Alonso joins McLaren in search of a third world championship after five years at Ferrari without a title, but is under no illusions as to how difficult the first season for McLaren and new engine supplier Honda will be.

“We can never say we will not win the world championship, who knows. But we have to be realistic, knowing that the deficit on the chassis side was important I think for McLaren this year, and the power unit is something we need to put in place and get experience [with]. Hopefully we can get everything right from the first race but you never know. The 2014 cars show us how complex is this F1.

“But we will see. I think a reasonable level of competitiveness will be to fight for podiums, hopefully to win races in 2015, that will be a good sign for our future. We will see how things develop, because if we can manage to have a good winter, have a little bit of luck… we saw even this year the big advantage Mercedes had, and we didn’t know if [Daniel] Ricciardo could fight for the championship until the end. So I think we have to put us in a good position, a competitive position, and after that it is up to Jenson and me as well to construct something.”

Alonso returns to McLaren seven years after he fell out with team boss Ron Dennis in dramatic fashion and left the under a cloud. He said his motivation to come back was fuelled by a desire to set things straight.

“All those years I had only one feeling remaining to do: I was happy with everything I had done apart from 2007. I didn’t achieve, didn’t deliver, the best of myself. So now seven years later, more mature, you learn things and understand things probably you didn’t at 25 years old, and now I arrive to finish this job I started in 2007. This was the first priority to come back.

“Ron and I have spoken a lot during the year, we have been together for some dinners and I want to say some hotel rooms but it sounds very bad! And you know, we both understand ultimately that we both are extremely competitive, we love motor racing – so much that sometimes we didn’t agree. But as I said, when you are 25 you think differently.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: McLaren-Honda announces Fernando Alonso & Jenson Button for 2015

McLaren-Honda announce its new driver line-up for 2015: Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Kevin Magnussen will remain an important part of the team, as test and reserve driver.

All three men will play crucial roles in re-establishing the ascendancy of one of global sport’s most iconic unions, for McLaren and Honda have already formed one of the most dominant partnerships in motorsport history: Honda broke new ground in the 1980s by creating a turbocharged engine that was unparalleled in both its output and its efficiency, and, between 1988 and 1992, McLaren-Honda won eight world championships and 44 grands prix, and took 53 pole positions and set 30 fastest laps, all in just 80 grands prix.

In 1988, the partnership created arguably the single most successful Formula 1 car of all time: the all-conquering McLaren-Honda MP4/4, which was driven to victory by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in an amazing 15 of the season’s 16 grands prix.

The lure presented by those same goals has once again brought the legendary Japanese corporation back to the pinnacle of global motor racing; and, again, that company, Honda, is developing its revolutionary new turbocharged engine at its all-new purpose-built state-of-the-art motorsport facility in Sakura, Japan.

It is against that backdrop that McLaren and Honda are now committing to rebuilding afresh the strongest possible partnership in Formula 1.

The aforementioned Ayrton Senna, in the opinion of many the greatest driver in the history of our sport, won 30 of the 44 grands prix that McLaren and Honda annexed together between 1988 and 1992. Ayrton once said: “We do not need myths. We need examples to be followed – examples of courage, determination and hope. We need to believe it is possible to win, and it is our duty to pursue that belief.”

Fernando Alonso said:

“I have never hidden my deep admiration for Ayrton Senna, my favourite driver, my idol on track, my reference.

“I still remember, as a kid, the posters in my wardrobe, my toy cars in which I dreamed I would one day emulate Ayrton, and the kart that my father built for my older sister, and that I ended up falling in love with. That kart had the livery of one of the most legendary partnerships in the history of Formula 1, McLaren-Honda, the car that Ayrton drove, the same partnership to which I am now honoured to join, to take part in the next Formula 1 world championship.

“I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me.

“Over the past year I have received several offers, some of them really tempting, given the current performance of some of the teams that showed interest. But, more than a year ago, McLaren-Honda contacted me and asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership – a partnership that dominated the Formula 1 scene for so long.

Jenson Button said:

“I am extremely excited to be embarking on my 16th year in Formula 1 and my sixth season for McLaren.

“Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together, and I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team.

“I admired Ayrton Senna enormously, but, for me, it was the exploits of his McLaren-Honda team-mate Alain Prost that inspired me most as a boy. The way he stroked those beautifully brutal red-and-white cars to grand prix wins and world championships was to my mind poetry in motion, and I have tried to emulate his driving style ever since.

“Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go.

“I am also very glad that Kevin will remain part of the team. He is a very quick driver and a really nice guy.

Read more at mclaren.com