McLaren accelerate upgrades but drop FRIC

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In the round-up: McLaren say they are bringing new upgrades to their car ahead of schedule but will drop their FRIC suspension for the upcoming race as the FIA was warned teams could be in breach of the rules if they use them.


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McLaren: No radical overhaul (Sky)

Eric Boullier: “The correlation and upgrade package we brought, originally for Silverstone but it went to Austria, is doing well so now we are doing the same and pushing to bring every upgrade one race earlier. So in Germany we’ll bring more upgrades than originally scheduled.”

McLaren to remove FRIC for Germany (Autosport)

“The decision by McLaren to remove FRIC will almost certainly be followed by other leading outfits. No teams will likely be willing to gamble on running FRIC for fear of a protest.”

Ferrari-Chef Montezemolo: “Formel-1-Piloten wie Taxifahrer” (Focus, German)

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo repeats his complaints about there being too much fuel and tyre conservation in Formula One.

Great Britain 2014 – race edit (F1)

Video highlights from the British Grand Prix including new audio clips from Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel’s radios.

Why FRICS is in the spotlight (MotorSport)

“Get rid of FRICS and the advantage of the nose-flexing technology is surely increased. Has Ferrari decoded how it works, perhaps aided by the inevitable flow of personnel over time between teams, and is looking to incorporate it into next year’s car? A clue might be the performance of Red Bull at Hockenheim if everyone elects to run without FRICS this weekend.”

British Grand Prix 2014 | The sport photographer’s scoop with Sutton Images (Nikon)

“My kit for the race would consist of Nikon D4s bodies / Nikkor 500mm F4 ED / 70-200mm F2.8 ED / 24-70mm F2.8 ED / 1.4X converter / 2SB flashes / 10 x 8GB SD cards / 1 chamois / 1 FIA jacket.”


Comment of the day

@Hobo is impressed with Force India’s season so far:

While they don’t have anywhere near the development reserves of the big teams, I think the bigger issue so far is poor qualifying. Of the 18 starts so far, more than half have been outside the top 10 with the best engine on the grid and at times the second fastest Mercedes team. That stems, I think, from less development funding, less downforce, and possibly from absence of FRIC (if some reports are correct that they aren’t running it).

But part of their ability to do so well in races, i.e. making the tires live forever, (and it is impressive) certainly has to be impacting their qualifying pace. Considering how well they are positioned in the points race, it seems to be a gamble that has paid off. If they went after getting more heat into the tires more quickly it would probably impact their long runs and possibly their results.

My point is that given the constraints on the team, they could have gone either way on tire wear/strategy, but I think they have about maximised the potential of their car so far this season.

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On this day in F1

Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh of Thailand (then Siam) was born 100 years ago today. The prince competed in races under the name ‘B Bira’ and was on the grid for the first ever round of the world championship at Silverstone, driving a Maserati.

He continued to compete in F1 until 1954 and retired the following year. He died in 1985.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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54 comments on “McLaren accelerate upgrades but drop FRIC”

  1. Ron’s back, if McLaren can’t make their Fric work, then it should be banned!

    1. having just read Motorsports article I may owe Ron an apology, Ferrari and RBR ? strange bedfellows!

      1. @hohum I read the motorsports article and the autosport. Even though Mark Hughes is almost always wrong about everything, He did write a plausible theory, that said this can anyway be the making of Ron Dennis. One thing is certain McLaren do struggle with their front suspension and McLaren now have some RedBull personnel that should have some experience with carbon lay-ups.

        1. …Just looked at the McLaren above sporting it’s new front wing… There’s always a trick under the sleeve, of wily Ron.

      2. Whoever of the teams did the “work” to get it banned mid season, the FIA and Charlie Whiting are the ones that put it up for protest this year already. If it really means RBR (and for next year Ferrari) gain an advantage immediately (or rather their advantage is an advantage again because it can’t be achieved by an alternative method anymore), just sigh.

        Its always been the way of F1 off course, but I would have hoped a regulator would stand back a bit and not interfere with the championship like this.

        1. @bascb

          Playing Devil’s advocate for a second, I would say that there is logic behind how the FIA have approached it. These systems are being developed heavily throughout the season, so there does come a certain tipping point where the FIA should look into whether these systems are actually acceptable within the current regulations. I would have thought that would simply be due diligence and wouldn’t necessarily be motivated by any particular team moaning. After all, if a certain team was fairly sure that they could swing the FIA’s decision in their favour, why not remove their FRIC system first and then protest all the teams running with it? That hasn’t happened – what has happened is that the FIA have looked at the systems and highlighted the fact that under the current regulations there is scope for a protest to be lodged, and explained the reasons for it. They have gone on to say that they won’t personally be protesting anything themselves, they’ll only react to protests lodged by teams.

          None of that sounds unreasonable at all. I have my own questions about the timing of it – why have we now hit that tipping point rather than a year ago or longer? If there is something fundamental that’s different about how these systems are being used now compared to previous iterations, and if so would there not simply be scope for teams to go back to the older versions which had already passed scrutineering? Seems like an odd way to approach it. But on a basic level if the FIA feel that they may be in breach of the current regs then they are surely obligated to give the teams warning.

          The reaction of the teams then, to remove their systems with immediate effect, is also a logical and inevitable one. No team would willingly run a FRIC system while there is the threat of protest, and no team would allow a fellow competitor to run such a system unchallenged after the FIA has already said they were open to protest.

          At least what we haven’t seen is a change in the technical regulations.

          1. Hm @mazdachris, there still is no reason to suddenly say it won’t be certain to be legal as of now (next race).

            As the teams all run their systems past the FIA up front, the FIA should be aware of what is used NOW and also what is in development (at least to an extent). I agree that its perfectly normal to see them put a stop on further development along the path they see, but apart from telling a team not to go and use something proposed, there is no good reason to retroactively declare “not sure this is legal” on things that are already running on the car.
            Would they have put a “only systems that were running on the cars as in Silverstone” are OK, then I would not see much issue.

          2. @bascb Yeah I agree, and that’s my main issue with it. People are comparing it to situations in the past like engine maps, slots vs holes, and plenty of other instances of technical changes being imposed throughout the season. But there’s a very important distinction here – in all of those situations the teams were using loopholes in the rules to do something, and in order to prevent it the FIA issued technical directives which addressed the areas of ambiguity in the regulations which would previously allow the devices to be compliant. Here they’re saying that their own interpretation of the rules is going to change. The rules themselves remain unchanged, as do the cars, yet cars which a week ago were legal are apparently now dubious under exactly the same regulations.

            It goes against the legal method of using precedents to set how the law in interpreted and enforced. If this were being looked at in a court of law, they would say that since the technology has already been declared fit to race under these regs, that ruling will then determine how the rule is enforced from that point until the point when the rule is changed.

            It’s a very strange way of doing it. Of course, it may be (and this seems most likely to me) that they had never even really considered the fact that suspension parts whose sole purpose is to influence the aerodynamic attitude of the car would be considered a movable aerodynamic part, until someone realised it could be. And once they realised that, they also realised that at some point in the future the result of a race might be contested.

            So in that respect it makes sense. Once the FIA realised there was the scope for protesting the device, then they took the most logical action to avoid a farce, which was to warn the teams that this was the case. Any other action would be ignoring a potentially very serious situation.

            Obviously the main question there is why it took the FIA so long to realise that this situation existed. But I do think it’s maybe understandable that they wouldn’t necessarily be thinking about aero rules when looking at an internal suspension component.

          3. @bascb

            Sorry to double post. But the other thing is, effectively what they’re saying is that these parts would never have been fully legal, and that they could potentially have been protested at any point during the year. Just that nobody (including the FIA) had realised it. But, while I have said above that no team in their right mind would now run that system under threat of protest, that may not strictly be true. There are already suspension components which have a secondary aerodynamic function, and they’re not considered a movable aerodynamic device. McLaren’s fat rear arms are a good example. So we know that if the aero function is merely a secondary function of another device, then it won’t be considered a movable aerodynamic device. In that respect, if a team felt confident that their FRIC system had a separate, primary function, and that the aero benefits were secondary, then they may well continue using it. Even if it is protested, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it would be deemed illegal. Merely that this is a possibility.

          4. McLaren’s fat rear arms are a good example. So we know that if the aero function is merely a secondary function of another device, then it won’t be considered a movable aerodynamic device. In that respect, if a team felt confident that their FRIC system had a separate, primary function, and that the aero benefits were secondary, then they may well continue using it

            Would Mercedes still have Ross on board, I harbor a guess we would see them use it and wait for any protests @mazdachris. And he might get out winning it too by proving that its main function is to cope with tyre wear (which surely is not aerodynamics).
            Not sure what they’ll do now though

          5. @mazdachris, @bascb, Great discussion, I have pointed out elsewhere in this thread that self leveling interconnected suspension has been around for more than half a century and its purpose has not been aerodynamic but, like all suspension designs, its purpose has been to keep the maximum area of tyre in contact with the road by keeping the tyre “square” to the road, along with balancing the front/rear grip by reducing the effects of weight transfer during acceleration/deceleration. While this technology has obvious aerodynamic benefits by minimising changes to the attack angle of the wings, I would argue that its primary purpose is to keep the tyre contact patch as constant as physically possible.

          6. @HoHum

            Who knows. It’s likely that the teams will all drop their FRIC systems anyway, but I do think there’s probably scope for arguing the case. But I think the biggest obstacle to that would be the fact that this generation of FRIC systems came about at the same time as teams started to use exhaust gasses to seal the diffuser and run a lot of rake to help generate downforce. One of the major advantages of the system is that it maintains the same angle of the floor no matter the load, and no matter the weight transfer, which keeps the aero balance very stable. Without these systems teams may need to run less rake to avoid the front of the plank grounding out under braking at high speed, or to stop the nose diving/porpoising over uneven surfaces.

            It’s interesting that one of the major impacts of moving to titanium skid blocks (done in the name of enhancing the show by creating sparks) will be that the plank will be far less protected than it is with the current steel skid blocks, which again means that running aggressive rake angles becomes very difficult. Reading between the lines it’s possible that the FIA want to try and stop cars from running in this way, and the combination of using a softer metal for the skid blocks plus effectively getting rid of complex FRIC systems, will likely go some way towards achieving this goal. Aggressive rake angles has been a defining feature of this ‘generation’ of F1 cars, along with blowing the diffusers. They may well have through that by moving the exhausts up high they would have removed this as an area of development, but it looks like teams are still trying to attach airflow down the flanks to seal the sides of the diffuser. All be it far less effectively than with exhaust gasses.

  2. Well I can’t read what Montezemelo said but I agree in principal with the summation, any time a driver other than the leader has to go slower than he is capable of going either to save fuel or save tyres is agains’t the spirit of and detrimental to racing, and dare I say it “the show”. It is up to Ferrari to build a car as powerful and efficient as the leading car so the drivers can push all the way to the chequered flag, and it is up to Pirelli to provide tyres (with the FIAs blessing) that do not handicap a driver.

    1. But drivers have had to slow down to manage some aspect of the car throughout F1 & the sport’s history.

      Back when reliability wasn’t what it is today drivers have to drive conservatively to look after brakes, the gearbox & other elements of the car.
      There have been periods through F1’s history when tyre management has played a key role in races.
      And its the same with fuel, There has often been the need to conserve some fuel during the race. It was more prominent during the turbo-era of the 80s but also played a part during the refueling-era as drivers saved some fuel in order to maximise there strategy or go a lap or more longer than a rival to try & jump them during the pit-stop phase (Something you still see a lot in Indycar).

      F1 has never been about driving flat out from start to finish, Its never been a series where you have drivers on the limit for a full race distance. Anyone who thinks that or who have the perception that F1 was like that in ‘the good old days’ are wrong.

      In terms of 2014, The tyre management hasn’t been too big of an issue, Especially when compared to what we had the past 2 seasons. And even the fuel management hasn’t been anywhere close to what the doom-mongers were predicting pre-season.

      On the whole 2014 has so far been a great year, Every race has featured some good, close & competitive racing with great scraps for position & a good amount of competitive (Non-DRS) overtaking & even when DRS has played a role its not been the guaranteed drive-by pass it has been the past 3 seasons.

      As Keith mentioned in the tweet above, We got to see a classic racing duel between 2 of the best drivers on the grid (Vettel & Alonso) at Silverstone, No sign of fuel/tyre management hurting the racing there, And its been the same story throughout the field all year long & that is why I am loving F1 2014 far more than I have the past several seasons :)

      1. DK (@seijakessen)
        15th July 2014, 2:44

        Fuel saving in the turbo era tended to be down to the driver’s discretion. Read: the entire race was not micromanaged from the pitwall. It was up to the driver to watch the fuel gauge and adjust the boost pressure accordingly. They were running 220L of fuel instead of this idiotic 100L we have now.

        The tires still are garbage, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that fact.

        1. Whilst your comments are true the reasoning behind this completely defeats your argument. In the previous turbo era the cars and engines, by today’s standards, were quite literally useless. Given that today’s cars can complete the races more quickly than in those days using around half the fuel means that the way it is done today is much better than in the past. You can’t simply unlearn the best way of doing things and go back to doing them badly on the basis that it was exciting 30 years ago.

          The tires might be garbage (I’m guessing the metric for this is fictional) but again the technology is far superior to what they had in the last turbo era and no doubt they would have loved to get their hands on tyres as advanced and fast as the current Pirellis.

        2. You do realise that the last turbo era ended in 1988 – that’s 26 years ago !
          That is over two decades of engine development that has resulted in engines that are far more efficient and able to produce more power from less fuel – which I’d always thought was one of the main reasons that motorsports exist – and as such it is a very good thing that F1 now uses less than half the fuel than back in the 1980’s, if it didn’t I’d be asking why teams had spent billions of pounds on engine development since then without any significant gains in efficiency.

          And you also have no idea how much engineers were micro managing drivers in the past as we’ve only been hearing team radio for the last few years and for all we know the likes of Senna and Prost could have had their respective engineers on the team radio all race long.

          1. @beneboy, your last paragraph may be holding a big clue to what changed: we learn more about what teams are doing, both through telemetry and through the relayed radio messages, as well as a general increase in information at all times.

            It is likely the Teams previously couldn’t quite micromanage as much due to having less Information, but equally, if they did we just didn’t hear about it.

            Sadly that points to one of the oft heard exuses against transparency being quite valid: it does cause confusion for those that don’t realise more info on what is happening does not mean something is different.

        3. You say 100 kgs is “idiotic” but rumours are that MGP cars run with just 87 kgs…. And look how quick they can go. Just because 100 kgs is the limit, it doesn’t mean anyone is forced to use it.

          1. *Litres!*

      2. @peterG, I agree F1 is moving in the right direction, especially where the 2 hardest tyre compounds are used, and since LH seems to have no trouble with the fuel limits I see that problem as a Ferrari problem not an F1 problem. I dispute your assertion that tyre and fuel management have always been a part of F1 although I am prepared to concede that on certain tracks some drivers occasionaly gained an advantage by forseeing the potential for unusually high tyre wear or fuel consumption and much was made of the drivers cannyness in using these tactics to advantage, but it was the exception not the rule.

        1. There were some circuit where drivers definitely would drive below the limit for strategic reasons, and it happened more frequently than you think too.

          Gary Anderson, in one BBC article, gave the example of the Italian GP at Monza – whilst a one stop strategy is usually fastest, during his time in F1 in the 1990’s drivers would have to manage their tyre wear by driving slightly below the limit, otherwise drivers would be forced into a two stop strategy that was, overall, the slower strategy.

          It wasn’t visible or obvious to the public because radio traffic wasn’t broadcast, but it definitely happened in the past – and with that, I’d like to raise a related question. You complain about the impact of not driving flat out, but could you actually see the impact on track if you were not told about it?

          1. Can I see it ? of course I can see it, everytime 1 driver catches up with another and makes a couple of half-hearted passing attempts before falling back and holding station 30m. astern.

          2. @hohum

            It wasn’t that long ago that even those few half hearted attempts at passing were basically impossible. It’s easy to whinge about how F1 is now, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that this is the worst that things have ever been. In the noughties you were lucky if there were ten overtakes in one race, because of dirty air.

            The races are consistently far more exciting now than at pretty much any point I can remember in my 25 odd years of watching the sport. Yes it has its problems and could be improved in certain areas, but just because one aspect has become the talking point du jour, doesn’t mean that it’s actually a valid criticism which doesn’t immediately fall to pieces under even the merest scrutiny.

          3. @mazdachris, I agree entirely, pit-stops are no substitute for on track passing battles and while (as so many keep pointing out) we can’t un-learn aerodynamics we can certainly (pun intended) clip their wings. I have been in the ” more mechanical grip less downforce camp” since the last century.

    2. @hohum I think that’s a good point. It’s obvious that F1 is focusing on matter that detract from logic but unfortunately some people just hack Montezemolo possibly based in his poor wording.

    3. But tyres wear out. Fuel gets used. They always have an always will. In an ideal world, for close racing, all the cars would be equal, with equal fuel usage (and changes in vehicle dynamics and different fuel weights), equal tyre degradation, equal horsepower, aero and mechanical grip… but unless you can’t have that and engineering diversity and variable driving styles. Maybe as fans, its possible to ask for too much.

      1. this is a great comment. i think people forget what makes for good sport. if every single race was like bahrain or canada, it would cease to be interesting quite quickly. all exciting races are circumstantial relying on innumerable factors and situations all coming together to make it interesting and a contest. if alonso had locked his brakes into vale just as vettel was pitting, we would have had no battle at silverstone.

        it’s stupid to expect every race to be a classic because (a) that’s unrealistic and (b) they wouldn’t be thought of as classics anymore.

  3. Luca making more stupid comments? It must be that time of week again. Does he even watch F1 anymore? Fuel conservation has always existed in F1. Even pre-2014 the teams would almost always under-fill their car at the start of the race for a lighter car and then spend much of the remainder of the race conserving. Even if the FIA took away all fuel restrictions and allowed the teams to run whatever engine specification they wanted, we’d still see plenty of conservation. And anyone who also watches Indycar, NASCAR and the WEC will also confirm that even with refueling fuel conservation plays a big role in race strategy.

    And the tyre conversation argument seems about 12 months out of date. I take it he didn’t notice Ricciardo doing more than two-thirds the race on option tyres at Silverstone. Seems ironic that the current Pirellis are considerably more durable than the ones that Ferrari were winning with on 4-stop strategies early in 2013. I don’t seem to recall Luca complaining about tyre conservation then.

    1. Seems ironic that the current Pirellis are considerably more durable than the ones that Ferrari were winning with on 4-stop strategies early in 2013. I don’t seem to recall Luca complaining about tyre conservation then.

      Good point.

      Its always the same story, Not just with Luca/Ferrari but with every team. When there doing well then they don’t complain but when there having a struggle to be competitive then they want everything changed.

      If Ferrari had the best car which was great on its tyres & a better power unit which was good on fuel (Like what Mercedes have) I guarantee that Luca would have no problems with the current formula.

      1. I was about to write the same. Luca’s criticisms would be infinitely more noteworthy if Ferrari were winning this season.

        1. i can also see in some of the slower circuits this year cars not even running 100lts of fuel if they think they can get away with less they will,
          the less fuel you have onboard the faster/less tire wear, so why would you carry fuel your not likely to use?
          Luca has been around long enough to know the ins and outs of these ridiculous claims he is making, these excuses/moaning are part an parcel of being behind in the championship, time to focus on making the car faster more completable Luca…

      2. Simple as that.

  4. No teams will likely be willing to gamble on running FRIC for fear of a protest.

    What was that team called that got away with running parts that were not fully in the spirit of the regulations, but ran them anyway, got a nice little warning from the FIA and removed it for the next race because they were asked?

    What was that team basically ran a form of Traction Control to a degree where the FIA allowed it midseason? Or that team that ran an extra pedal that one time until they were politely asked to remove them?

    Why, it’s Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren! And personally, I cannot imagine any of those teams, nor Mercedes, wanting to run the risk of losing out on a potential advantage over other teams, unless politely asked by the FIA after running it anyway.

    1. What was that team called that got away with running parts that were not fully in the spirit of the regulations, but ran them anyway, got a nice little warning from the FIA and removed it for the next race because they were asked?

      Mercedes with the FRIC in 2014? In order for your RB analogy to fully hold up there would have to be swarms of people demanding that Mercedes be stripped of the points they have won with their “illegal” car and going about “cheating”.

      1. No, RBR in 2014.

    2. I’m calling bluff! They all run it to a degree, it’s not new technology, Mclaren can’t make it work, so it won’t affect them or they are calling all of the other teams out

  5. I had gotten the impression that FRIC had become such a fundamental and integrated system that removing it would hugely upset the cars set-up and therefore force a huge re-design. If McLaren can remove theirs so easily and with such apparent nonchalance then no wonder they haven’t been setting the world on fire recently.

    1. Still faster than the F14T

  6. I hoesntly think Ric or Alonso will be champion. I hope Merc pull out of F1 if their suddenly a way off pole

    1. i love Riccardo and Alonso but you cant but admire what Merc are doing this year,
      my favorite team is McLaren as i am a Kiwi and it was started by a Kiwi Bruce McLaren.
      yet i can also enjoy what is happen on circuit without my favorite Team winning all the time.
      what your saying is how wars are started…

  7. What a great leader is Montezemolo; I really apreciate the fact that the great man is determined to fix F1 before fix his own team.

    I think we all should thank him for his generosity.

  8. I don’t think that a change in technical rules (for example removing fuel restrictions and making more durable tyres) will change the global situation in F1. The deciders in F1 are ignoring the fact that the sport is in a continuous decline and their only concern is how to make the maximum profit out of it.
    In my opinion the only way to wake up from this nightmare is that the teams need to make a deep analysis of the situation and take serious actions when the current Concorde agreement will expire (2020).
    A new league like the NBA with :
    A good business model in which the revenues are distributed fairly between the teams.
    Clear sporting regulations which represents a good compromise between innovation and costs
    More importance to the fans by making the races more affordable, dropping middle of nowhere races, exploiting more the social networks….
    I have already seen many brilliant ideas on on this forum alone, i think that this can be done theoretically speaking but practically speaking i know that i might be dreaming right now because some teams won’t get rid of the privileges given by Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA for the sake of the sport.
    BTW the interesting thing about NBA is that when it started, the series struggled and the TV rates where down until the rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics which was triggered by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came out and took the league to a new level.
    In F1 now it’s quite the opposite situation, we have great champions that have demonstrated that they can battle each others hard on the track and provide the fans thrilling fights but we don’t have a good model on which the sport could be built on.

    1. @tifoso1989 – I think that’s the best way anyone could have ever put it. Couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said, really.

  9. Thanks for the Nikon Photography article @keithcollantine

  10. I don’t understand why you would have to ban FRIC in THE MIDDLE of the season, when almost all of the cars are built around this system. FIA are just artificially trying to cancel Mercedes’s advantage, like they did with RBR in 2012. F1 should be about innovation, role models for modern road cars ahead, but the FIA just won’t allow that! FIA, if you want to ban FRIC, ban it at THE END of the season.

    1. The FIA haven’t banned anything yet, and won’t do until 2015. The issue is that, given how far FRIC has developed, it may already be illegal.

      1. It’s this type of reasoning that makes the FIA so disappointing.

        If there are developments within FRIC that are illegal, then ban THOSE IMPLEMENTATIONS, and leave alone what’s legal.

  11. I’ve gotta give it to Ferrari and RBR though.
    Referencing 2015 design to benefit immediately in 2014…… Well done!

    It’s a throw of the dice in terms of effect on WDC, but hey better that than nothing at all.

    1. @jason12 Trying to upgrade their cars so that they’re even better than the Mercedes would be the best of all

  12. Anyone else feeling the same way about’s race edits this year? While I’ve been really looking forward to these action packed and well directed cuts race after race for the past years they’ve somehow become totally dull this season, hardly entertaining and very underwhelming overall.

  13. I think Mclaren had bring quite a big updates from the start of the race, however I am not sure how much they tried to really understand the car. McLaren is not a team they should be fighting with teams like Force India, Toro Rosso or Williams. They should be a team who takes the fight to big teams like Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull.

    I am quite sceptical about all these hypes of Mclaren – Honda re-union, especially when they will be one year behind the schedule. Also by next year Renault and Ferrari will catch up Mercedes.

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