McLaren confirms chrome livery dropped for Spanish GP

McLaren has now formally confirmed that the livery of the MP4-30 will change for this weekend’s Spanish GP.

As reported here on Saturday, the chrome/silver look that the car started the season with has now been replaced, after it caused a few problems with reflections in sunlight and under the Bahrain floodlights.

A McLaren spokesman told this blog: “We have revised our car’s livery, improving its visual impact, optimising it for not only bright sunshine but also for the floodlights increasingly used in twilight and night races.

“The result is a dynamic, predatory, graphite-grey colouration, complemented by McLaren-dayglo ‘Speedmarks’ and keylines, reducing the reflection issues caused by our latest chrome-silver treatment.”

Saturday’s story, including what Ron Dennis had to say about liveries earlier this season, can be found here:

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Nico Hulkenberg on the WEC: “Everything has been a première this weekend…”

Nico Hulkenberg says his future is still open after he enjoyed his WEC debut with Porsche in Saturday’s Spa 6 Hours.

The third works LMP1 entry was delayed when starting driver Nick Tandy tangled with a Porsche GT car early on, and had to crawl back to the pits for repairs. Hulkenberg, Tandy and Earl Bamber eventually finished sixth.

“To be honest I’ll do this race and I’ll do Le Mans and then after that I’ll assess how much I like it,” Hulkenberg told this writer. “If there’s a future or not here or in F1… I think my future is completely open, and it’s too early to say at this time of year.”

Hulkenberg was pleased with the way the race went, despite the frustration of having to play catch up.

“I enjoyed it. My time in the car was good. Obviously we lost quite a bit of time in the beginning, which is a shame. But that’s what we’re here for, to get that kind of experience. It was good that we all got our time in the car.

“We didn’t change tyres, we were so far back we were trying to get information for the other cars, so we elected to keep me out on the same tyres to see how that went. It went well, although at the end we were running out of tyres a little bit.

“Obviously Le Mans is more of a power track, but we still have some homework to do in the mean time. You saw we had some issues on some cars, so there’s still work in front of us.”

Hulkenberg said the whole weekend was a learning exercise in preparation for the 24 Hours: “Absolutely. It was obviously my first time getting in touch with this format of racing, everything has been a première this weekend. Considering everything I think it went fine, although obviously not the final result that we hoped for.

“Anyway, it was not about getting the main result here, it was about getting the experience. The traffic wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Better than expected, I really enjoyed the traffic to be honest.”

Nico said it will be easy to get back into the F1 groove in Spain next weekend: “I think I have the F1 feeling inside my body. You take the different software from the drawer in my desk and install that again in my brain!”

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After Sauber saga Van der Garde sees a future in WEC or the DTM

Giedo van der Garde says he’s looking at a future in the WEC or DTM after accepting that he has little chance of ever getting back to F1 after his legal fight with Sauber in March.

The Dutchman was at the Spa 6 Hours on Saturday – where he chatted with old pal Nico Hulkenberg – before heading to Hockenheim for today’s DTM event.

“You never ever know what’s happening in F1 but at the moment my targets are DTM or WEC for next year,” he told this writer. “For this year it’s already tough to jump in somewhere, because we were very late with everything. So I’m looking around a bit.”

Regarding F1 he said: “Of course you never give up, you always keep a little bit of hope, but after what happened to you you are a little bit fed up with everything, in the beginning especially. But the more you think about it, the more it gives you a bit of a relief. Of course it’s always what you wanted, and there’s still a little bit in me that says ‘maybe’. We’ll see.”

Van der Garde said he’d had a generally positive reaction to the outcome of his action against Sauber, and the statement he made after it about contracts and the rights of drivers.

“I got very positive feedback, from teams, team bosses and drivers even. So I’m quite happy with that. Now it’s a bit more calm and relaxed and I’m looking to get a nice drive for next year.”

His only scheduled race thus far in 2015 is at the Goodwood Revival.

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McLaren to debut new livery in Spain

McLaren Honda will run a revised livery from next weekend’s Spanish GP, sources close to the team have confirmed.

It’s understood that the new version could be described as ‘shades of grey,’ with no chrome or silver, and that the change does not signal the arrival of a new sponsor.

The original 2015 livery caused a stir when it was first revealed due to its similarity to previous incarnations, although Ron Dennis insisted at the Jerez test in February that it reflected McLaren and not Mercedes heritage.

He said it would only change if there was a sound commercial reason – but then added that it would indeed change at some stage. He admitted that there had been a debate in the McLaren camp.

“We’ve got the same thing inside [the company],” Dennis said at the time. “You’ve got people who say ‘Why don’t we make it orange?,’ and I say, ‘Why?’ ‘That was the old colour of McLaren.’ ‘Well yeah you just said it, why the hell do we want to go backwards?’ Then what do you do? Do you create an aesthetically pleasing design? For what purpose do you produce an aesthetically pleasing design?
“This is the livery of McLaren, it’s always been a combination of these colours, and it will only change for commercial reasons, it wont change just to make a few people in the company happier because they want it orange, or they want it yellow. We tried to put a bit more of our real colour, which is dayglo.

“Fluorescent red is our colour. We’ve got more heritage in fluorescent red than any other colour. But again what I prefer to do is put a stylish design and as we evolve… it will be far more recognised if we suddenly come out with a light green car for the following reason, you’ll all go, yeah they’ve got a big amount of money coming in. Why would you react to Twitter?

Asked by this writer about the widespread association of the livery with Mercedes he said: “The car’s got a minimal amount of mirroring on it, I wouldn’t even call it silver. You’re voicing an opinion which lots of people voice, in the company, on Twitter, everything. But that’s a problem without a solution. Yes we could change colour, yes we could do something more daring, we could all these things, but give me a reason why? And if it’s just to aesthetically more pleasing, that’s not enough reason to me.”

However, pressed on the Mercedes connection, he finally admitted: “It will change, but I’m not going to say when…”


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Todt takes on United Nations road safety job

FIA President Jean Todt has been appointed as Special Envoy for Road Safety by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

A statement from the FIA noted: “In this capacity, he will assist the UN Secretary General in mobilizing sustained political commitment towards road safety. Mr. Todt will also advocate and raise awareness about the United Nations road safety legal instruments, and share established road safety good practices, through his participations in global and regional conferences on road safety. In addition, the Special Envoy for Road Safety will generate funding for advocacy efforts through strategic partnerships between the public, private and non-governmental sectors.”

“The road safety challenge is too often ignored, but road injuries are the number one killer of young people aged 15-29,” said Todt. “That being the case, it deserves much more attention on the global political agenda. This appointment will bring greater visibility to efforts to tackle this health and development crisis, as well as new leadership and renewed momentum.

“In my position as FIA President, with the backing of our members, road safety has become a key priority. I have been committed to bringing together all stakeholders fighting for this cause. This new role will help build an even stronger coalition for road safety worldwide.”


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April start for F1 in 2016 – but is it such a big deal?

The 2016 F1 season is set to start two weeks later than usual as Bernie Ecclestone attempts to condense the calendar.

The F1 website has confirmed that the season will kick off in Melbourne on April 3. It will be the first time that the season has not started in March since 1988, when the Brazilian GP also took place on April 3. Melbourne was also held in April in 2006, but it was the third race of the year.

The F1 website noted: “The revised 2016 date will see the event follow Easter and take place after daylight savings, the absence of which will see the race start earlier in the day. A final start time will be announced closer to the 2016 event.”

“It’s fantastic that Melbourne will again play host to the opening round of the FIA Formula One World Championship,” said Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott. “Over the past 20 years Melbourne has become synonymous with the start of a new Formula One season, and we look forward to again welcoming all the teams and drivers to our great city in 2016. The new date will see an earlier start time, and fans can expect the same great on-track action and off-track entertainment across the four days.”

While the news of the April start has attracted a lot of attention, it isn’t really such a big deal. The last time the season started relatively late was in 2009, when the Australian race was held on March 29. However Ecclestone only had to fit in 17 events that year, rather than the 20 expected next season.

This year could easily have started on March 29 had Melbourne/Sepang been back to back, and had there only been one free weekend between Bahrain and Spain. A little shuffling later in the season could have saved another week.

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Force India satisfied with form after late start

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley says his team can be satisfied with successful “damage limitation” over the first four races.

The VJM08 was completed late and did very little testing, and the team looked set for a tough start to the season. However a double score in Melbourne and then eighth place for Sergio Perez in Bahrain left the team just a point behind Lotus and Toro Rosso in the constructors’ table, and eight points behind Sauber.

“We set out obviously to try do damage limitation in these first four races,” Fernley told this writer.. “And I think the efforts of the team to get a good qualifying position in Bahrain gave us an opportunity, and we took it with both hands.

“And that means after four races we’re pretty well on a par with all our competitors. Given where we were after the Barcelona test I think I would have taken it! We’ve got Lotus, Toro Rosso within a point of us, and Sauber a few points away. We’re in good shape from that point of view, so the damage limitation programme has been delivered.”

Perez and Nico Hulkenberg ran different strategies in Bahrain, and Fernley says that the German actually helped his team mate by holding up his rivals.

“Nico didn’t have the best of starts, he lost a couple of places. He had a reasonable first stint and we decided that a three-stop was right for him, but we couldn’t quite deliver the performance that a three-stop was going to need.

“However, sometimes running a three and a two as alternative strategies can benefit the other car a little bit. I think Nico did a good job for us in the first stint which probably helped Checo come through as well, as he backed up three or four cars for a while. That’s not taking anything away from what was a perfectly executed drive from Checo.”

Fernley says that while updates will be in the car in Spain the main package is still in schedule for Austria: “There are bits and pieces coming, but none of it will add a huge amount of performance. It’s more a case of preparing ready for the package coming in Austria.”

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