Tag Archives: McLaren

Video: Fernando Alonso on McLaren and Honda

Fernando Alonso’s return to McLaren is one of the biggest stories of the 2015 season. Here’s what he has to say about the team and the new relationship with Honda.

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Jenson Button: “I’ve never seen such motivation amongst the guys…”

Jenson Button says the team is fully motivated

Jenson Button says the team is fully motivated

An upbeat Jenson Button says that the new partnership with Honda has been a massive motivational boost to the whole McLaren team.

However Button, who knows the Japanese company well from his BAR/Honda days, conceded that it won’t be easy.

“The off-season has really brought about a sense of renewal coming into 2015,” he said. “Continuing my relationship with McLaren, getting married, and now embarking on such an exciting chapter: McLaren’s new partnership with Honda. I’ve trained hard over the winter, and I’m absolutely itching to get going in the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30.

“It’s been interesting to spend time in the factory during the past few weeks: you can really sense a feeling of reignited optimism and positivity around the building. I’ve never seen such motivation amongst the guys – we’re all massively keen to get going in Jerez and to work hard on developing our new car.

“But we’re under no illusion that it will be easy – there’s a huge challenge ahead of us to try to pull back the gap to our rivals, but we’re certainly up for it. We ended last season with great momentum and clear progress, and I’m determined to carry that forward into 2015.

“I’m also looking forward to working with my new team-mate, Fernando, and I’m confident that our joint experience on track will pay dividends in our development race to get our team back to the front of the grid. I’m hugely motivated to make more history in this new McLaren-Honda era.”

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Fernando Alonso: “I’ve never felt better or more ready…”

Alonso is raring to go in 2015...

Alonso is raring to go in 2015…

Fernando Alonso says he has “never felt better” ahead of a new season as he prepares for his return to McLaren.

The Spaniard acknowledges that there’s still a lot of learning to do.

“Although the winter period is a time for rest and relaxation from racing, my motivation could not be stronger for the new season,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of training during the winter break, to reach my peak physical fitness, and I’ve been working hard in preparation for this new era of McLaren-Honda. I’ve never felt better, or more ready for a new season.

“Of course, we’re prepared for a steep learning curve, but it’s clear to see that inside McLaren-Honda there’s total commitment, and a real change in feeling, as we start this new partnership. We’re all focused on the challenge ahead, and I feel extremely honoured to be part of a relationship that has shared so much history together. My aim is to help write a new chapter in the history of McLaren-Honda.

“We understand the effort and teamwork required to take McLaren-Honda back to where it should be, at the front of the grid, and all our energy as a team is focused on that goal.”
Alonso says he expects winter testing to be challenging for the new partnership.

“Our first target will be to learn the maximum from the car at the pre-season tests, understand the package, and extract as much performance as possible. That won’t be easy or trouble-free, but we’re ready for that. Why? Because our key focus will be on development.

“Historically, McLaren has already been characterised by its ability to bring updates to the car quickly, and develop a strong package. It’s going to be a real privilege to be the first person to drive the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30 at Jerez, and I can’t wait to begin what I’m certain will be a very exciting new chapter in my career. I’m as motivated now as I was when I was given my first opportunity at the wheel of an F1 car.”

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It’s here at last – the McLaren-Honda MP4-30

The MP4-30 is here at last

The MP4-30 is here at last

McLaren has released pictures of the eagerly awaited MP4-30, the first car from the Woking team to feature a Honda power unit since 1992.

It’s also the first to feature the input of former Red Bull Racing aero chief Peter Prodromou, who rejoined the team late last year, and holds the title of chief engineer.

The other key players behind the new car include technical director Tim Goss, director of engineering Matt Morris, and director of design and development programmes, Neil Oatley.

Ron 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.”

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Dennis planning to acquire majority stake in McLaren

Ron Dennis is planning to increase his shareholding in the McLaren Group so that he will have a majority stake.

Dennis currently owns 25% of the company, with 25% in the hands of TAG and the remaining 50% owned by Bahrain’s Mumtalakat.

It’s understood that as early as next year TAG and Mumtalakat will sell a chunk of their stock to Dennis, although both will retain a stake in the company, and no deal has been finalised as yet.

“No transaction has taken place, but the shareholders have had discussions on how to best facilitate and enhance the future growth of the McLaren Group,” said a McLaren spokesman.

“When and if a transaction takes place, it is not envisioned that the current shareholders will exit McLaren completely, and announcements would be made at the appropriate time.”

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Fernando Alonso on McLaren: “There is a very solid future…”

Fernando Alonso says he received some “tempting” offers over the past 12 months before committing to rejoin McLaren in 2015.

“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,” he said. “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.

“McLaren-Honda’s repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence, ahead.”

Alonso is happy with what he’s seen of the new partnership, and confirmed that he has been to visit Honda in Japan.

“I have had in-depth discussions with all the senior people at both McLaren and Honda, I have viewed their fantastic facilities in both the UK and Japan, and it is clear to me that, together, McLaren and Honda are in the process of beginning what is sure to be a long and successful partnership. And I intend to give 100% effort to help make it exactly that.

“I want to thank the persistence of those who have fought so hard for this to come true. I will do everything in my power to deliver for everyone and for our team, based on a formula that has always worked for me: effort, sacrifice, perseverance and faith.

“We have time, we have hopes and we have the necessary resources. Let the legend return: that is our challenge.”
He also made it clear that the return of the McLaren-Honda name brings with it a little magic: “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.”

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Alonso and Button finally confirmed at McLaren

McLaren has finally confirmed that Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will be the team’s race drivers in 2015.

The news comes after weeks of speculation about whether Button or Kevin Magnussen would retain their race seats alongside the Spaniard.

Alonso and Button were team mates at Renault in 2002 when the former was reserve driver. He was promoted to a race seat for 2003, and Jenson moved to BAR.

Magnussen continues on the role of test and reserve driver and clearly still has the opportunity to bounce back to a race seat – although he faces strong competition from Stoffel Vandoorne.

Among those to have raced in F1, dropped into a test role and returned to have a successful career are Alonso, Mika Hakkinen and Felipe Massa.

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Tough start for McLaren Honda as car runs five laps in two days

McLaren and Honda endured another tough day in Abu Dhabi as Stoffel Vandoorne completed only two laps, bringing the MP4-29H/1×1 test car’s official total up to five for the two-day test – without setting a flying lap time.

The car appeared to be ready to run at the start of the day before an electrical issue intervened. In the afternoon Vandoorne did an installation lap, but when he went out for a four-lap run the car shut down on track. The team was not able to get it out again before the end of the day.

Although the whole point of the Abu Dhabi test was to find problems before running begins again in Jerez in February clearly both parties were expecting to do at least some representative mileage. This week has been poor reward given the effort involved in building the test car, which was a brand new chassis – and which in theory will not be used again, assuming that the new MP-30 is ready for the first test in February.

The team does still have the opportunity to use the older car in the first test and spend a bit more time developing the definitive model before it actually runs.
The other downside of the lack of mileage is that the team may have been using the Honda test in part as a way of evaluating whether or not Vandoorne is ready for a 2015 race seat, although in theory the Belgian will do a second year of GP2.

“Although this looked like another difficult day, this is just part of the learning experience we expected when we took on the interim car programme,” said team boss Eric Boullier. “It’s useful to discover these issues pre-Christmas, as it allows us to deepen our understanding of the complex integration between power-unit, ancillaries and the car.

“And, to be honest, I’d rather be ironing out these problems here in Abu Dhabi, than discovering them in Jerez, next February.

“It’s definitely been a positive for both McLaren and Honda to conduct this test – there have been some troublesome issues, but we’ve made progress. We’ve also made an excellent start to the relationship – communication and interaction have been great, and you can really feel the positivity and sense of purpose in the garage. Any mileage we accrued this week would simply have been a bonus.”

Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai added: “In short, this was a tricky day. We encountered system start-up and data communication issues that prevented us from running as we’d planned.

“However, actually conducting testing at the track enabled us to understand the complexity of the system at a deeper level. We now know what is necessary to further develop the system, and we’ll work together with McLaren to be ready for the next test – at Jerez in February.”

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Paffett leaves McLaren test role after eight years

Gary Paffett is to leave McLaren at the end of this season after being a test and reserve driver for the team since 2006.

Paffett, who continues to drive for Mercedes in DTM, leaves just as Honda replaces the Stuttgart manufacturer. His departure potentially opens up more opportunities for Stoffel Vandoorne.

“I’ve loved working for McLaren and hope my feedback and input over the years has been beneficial,” said Paffett. “The engineers I’ve worked with have been kind enough to say that it has. I have many friends at McLaren, and I wish all of them the very best of luck for the future. Fingers crossed for a McLaren grand prix win or two next year!”

McLaren acting CEO Jonathan Neale said “Gary has been an excellent member of the McLaren team for the best part of a decade, and his technical input, on test track and in simulator alike, has been hugely important to us. Just as important, he’s a great guy. We wish him well.”

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McLaren-Honda test car to appear at Silverstone on Friday

Deja vu! Yours truly took this pic for Autosport in 1990...

Deja vu! Yours truly took this pic for Autosport in 1990…

McLaren has revealed that its interim Honda test car will appear at Silverstone tomorrow in the hands of Oliver Turvey, on a day that has been earmarked for filming.

Eric Boullier revealed some time ago that the interim MP4-29 would be given the ‘H’ designation.

The team said via Twitter: “Getting set for Silverstone tomorrow for a filming day. We’ll be parading the interim Honda-engined MP4-29H/1X1 & 2 classic McLaren-Hondas.”

Stoffel Vandoorne will be at Silvesrtone, but is only scheduled to drive the older cars.

The team is obviously now on course to run the car at the Abu Dhabi test on the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Grand Prix, although it remains to be seen who might drive there.

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