Jenson Button, McLaren, Albert Park, 2015

McLaren have only done a 12-lap run and start last

2015 Australian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Albert Park, 2015After qualifying on the back row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix Jenson Button admitted McLaren’s chances of even finishing the race are slim as he is yet to cover more than 12 laps in a row.

A similar run tomorrow would barely see him past one-fifth distance in the 58-lap race.

“It’s going to be a really difficult race for us,” said Button. “We haven’t done a race distance yet, and my longest run is 12 laps – but we want to do the best we can because there’s so much learning to be had.”

Button said the team’s poor performance in qualifying, in which they were slowest of the 18 cars which set times, “wasn’t a surprise for us”.

“We knew from winter testing that the pace wasn’t there, so we knew we weren’t going to be competitive here.” Button’s quickest time in Q1, set on soft tyres, was 2.8 seconds slower than Mercedes managed on medium rubber.

Honda’s chief officer of motorsport Yasuhisa Arai said the weather conditions at the circuit contributed to McLaren’s problems.

“Unfortunately, today’s higher temperatures didn’t help the conservative data mapping settings that we chose to run this weekend.,” he said. “From the outset, we took the decision not to gamble any engines away in the opening race, so there’ll be more to come from us.”

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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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71 comments on “McLaren have only done a 12-lap run and start last”

  1. How the hell did this happen? 2013 and 14 weren’t good, but this is a whole new level of bad, mega slow and super unreliable :/

    Is the Honda PU that bad? The size-zero thing just bs?

    1. I doubt it, but it’s gonna be a long season for them.

    2. I’m still not sure that they’re slow. Not saying they’re fast but this is also unrepresentative. I came across an interview done by Arai yesterday and it sounds like there’s an awful lot of beginner’s leg work, esp. optimisation and software-side work to be done. This is before even building up a fluent working relationship between Sakura and Woking.

      That said. What an absolute shambles. Plainly embarrassing.

      The only positive thing that can be drawn is this must surely be the most beautiful slowest car ever. Can anyone name another?

      1. I just saw that, too. Arai said they were using a conservative engine mapping so they wouldn’t, as Ron put it, burn through engines in the early part of the season like what has already happened with Ricciardo.

        1. I don’t get this argument at all and think it’s just more lies from Dennis. The point of conserving engines is to avoid engine penalties which can ultimately ‘ruin’ a race weekend. But if you ruin every race weekend by running conservatively to possibly (but not certainly) ruin a future race weekend what have you gained? And in the meantime by running conservative you are not going to be able to develop the engine and improve reliability.

          I believe that they are running at low power but I believe it is either because they simply know that to do otherwise will blow up the engine or else to avoid something even more embarrassing than being too slow (being unable to run at all) – i.e it’s forced on them not a choice by McLaren.

    3. Di Montezemolo last year to Dennis:
      – Okay, okay, I’ll leave the company and I’ll fire Domenicali and I let Alonso move to McLaren. But…
      – Yeah, what do you want for it?
      – You’ll have to make our 2014 campaign look good in comparison
      – Deal!

      1. Ahahahahaaaaaaaa! Good one…

    4. Honda have no excuse. When they saw at the pre season tests of 2014 how Ferrari and Renault were having issues with performance and reliability of their engines, it should have been the wake up call to double their effort. All we heard was big talk of challenging Mercedes. But that was just talk, they haven’t translated that onto the track. I really do hope they can make progress as the season progresses.

    5. Well, it’s not that good. Honda have said they turned the engine down to get some running in and prevent reliability issues popping up. In what looked like a clean and balanced lap, Button was 5 seconds behind the Mercedes. Let’s make that 4 seconds behind Williams, a reasonable benchmark. What engine has modes that bring its pace back 4 seconds??

      1. To be fair, no one knows just how much they have turned the engine down. They need a lot of data from this race to make sure that they make up for lack of testing so they need to make certain that the car finishes. As they said on top of this the conditions made it worse for their power so I am sure that the PU is capable of a huge amount more.

        1. The Merc power unit is probably capable of much more if they turn it up to a level that makes a breakdown almost certain.

    6. 3 decades worth of experience of their champion drivers going waste! – + ALO / BUT / MAG career spoiled. esp ALO twice now! – I enjoyed McLaren only in Hakkinen days, rest they’ve messed up every guy’s career in terms of race wins and stats, etc – Kimi, Kov, Montoyo, Alo, Ham, But. And now young guys like KMag .
      I don’t understand… Sick!

  2. I bet Fernando’ll be keen to return…

    1. Corrado (@)
      14th March 2015, 9:12

      I think so too. Don’t know ALO, VET and RAI contracts clauses, but I have doubts ALO will go back to Ferrari ever again. VET is there to stay for some years for sure, the only unsure part is how much ALO wants to be paired with VET and when RAI retires or how easily and eagger is Ferrari in getting rid of RAI in ALO’s favour… and, of course, if the new bosses from Ferrari see any future in ALO. If RAI retires or they get rid of him, maybe they’ll want to pair VET with 1 of the young promising guys, like Bottas.

      1. You’ve misinterpreted what Tommy C was saying, he meant Alonso wont be looking forward to returning to racing next week with McLaren.

        1. yes it is also a good reason to maybe read more into why ALO is absent,
          if i was him i to would have told Dennis i am not driving that thing to be last on the Grid, fix it or i am outa here…

  3. My dad, who was an engineer for Honda for 35 years, said last year:
    Honda will fail badly in Formula 1 – “before they used to have passionate guys in the Engine Department, people who loved doing that and people who would service and rebuild their own engines.those guys not only knew how to design an engine, but they also knew how to pull one apart and rebuild it from scratch. They got their hand dirty on the weekend at the local motocross track or fo kart track. They nitro rc cars as hobby.

    Now, there are just a bunch of princesses who want to be called doctors, they wear white coats and gloves and get their cars serviced at the local dealer.”

    1. With all due respect to father.. It’s called evolution. I’m an engineer myself, I work for one of the biggest oil companies in world.. And you hear similar sentiments from veterans, but the fact is, the mindset of yesteryear has no place in today’s complex world of technology and Regulation. Technology has evolved for the better and companies have done so go suit. There is no way the technicians who serviced engines in the 70s and 80s will be able to service the current engines without considerable amount of training… After all that training.. You might well find the grease monkeys would have evolved into doctors.

      1. Checking in from Oil and Gas. Same resistance to automation in the diving industry. People unhappy with PLC dive controls etc. Time marches on. Keep up or get out.

    2. pastaman (@)
      14th March 2015, 18:45

      Not sure how any of that relates to Formula 1 unless your dad was a Formula 1 engineer

    3. how do you explain their moto gp success?

  4. So … the McLaren is slow AND unreliable. Wow … just wow :-O

    I remember McLaren’s first season with the Mercedes engine (1995). Whilst the car wasn’t particularly good at the beginning of the season, it was considerably better than this year’s package, relatively speaking. At the first race in Brazil, they qualified in the top ten, and finished fourth and sixth.

    This appears to be the worst start to a season in McLaren’s “Dennis Era” … by a mile!

    1. What I find strange is the appearance that this engine wasn’t properly tested before it was installed into an F1 car.

  5. I would say we have no idea where their pace is.

    As the man said, they were running a conservative Nao so they didn’t blow the engine. Looks like they are going to use the first few races as test runs and up the power when they feel they can make a competitive race distance. Until then they would rather not waste engines racing for 0 points.

    We can’t draw conclusions on pace yet. Be patient.

    1. Sorry, conservative map. Stupid auto correct.

      1. Agreed there TdM.
        In a way, one can’t really pick performance over reliability these days. It’s closer now to both or nothing as by the time you’ve figured out reliability and can score points, you’ll be getting penalised left and right for eating through your engine allocation.

        Still think they have something good to work through. Patience is necessary. (Still a rather bad showing too.)

      2. They qualified 17th and 18th. Sorry, conservative or not, that’s atrocious. Had that been 11-12, or even 14-15 I would accept that explanation. But they are 17 and 18, sorry, you can’t really explain that with conservative mapping.

        1. Because you know exactly how much they have had to turn their engine down? As they said the conditions made their situation worse and they are going to be making absolutely sure that they can finish the race and accumulate some significant data. This is effectively a test weekend for them. It would jot surprise me if most of those 4-5 seconds are reeled in over the next few races.

      3. No, I really believed it was a new Honda synergy word for ‘map’ or ‘software mode’

    2. Their current pace is on the timesheets. What we have no idea about is their future pace.

    3. Do we really have no idea though? I think there’s a fairly obvious conclusion to be drawn in terms of Mclaren Honda’s pace right now – they are not even in the same ballpark as the other teams and it’s clear that a massive power defecit is the cause.

      All this talk about being conservative in order to not blow up their engines seems like claptrap and the complete opposite of what they should be doing given how woefully down on power the Honda engine is currently.

      If anything Honda should be running everything at beyond maximum capacity and allowing the engines to fail repeatedly. At least this way they could get special dispensation to make a raft of changes to the engine/powertrain on reliability grounds.

      As it stands there is practically no point in them even “racing” against the other teams. The defecit is just too huge in terms of power and there is no way that 9 tokens for engine modifications is sufficient to bridge the gap.

      So run the engines beyond their maxium capacity in an attempt to achieve power output comparable to the other manufacturers, let the engines fail miserably, make a case to the FIA that any engine modifications/updates are necessary on the basis of reliability and keep doing so until they can achieve competitive power output reliably.

      1. Way too early to do that. You’re writing this before the first race has even started. They have to try and get any number of laps under their belt.

        1. Agreed, too early to start drawing any conclusions regarding the Honda unit. They are barely at the start of the development cycle, I would be more concerned with Renault who seem to have taken a wrong turn in their development, they seem to have gained no further power and seems to have lost a bit of reliability in development.
          I will watch Mclaren-Honda with interest this year, they have the ability and resources to develop this unit very quickly, they maybe finishing points scoring positions sooner than most think.

      2. @panache fortunately you’re not head of development at Honda. Blowing engines won’t get you anywhere but in your garage, they would finish last behind Manor with an incredible amount of penalties, not even talking about the massive income drop due to the prize money?

      3. @panache Development requires data, and they’re not going to get any data by blowing up engines all the time. What they need is mileage. Laps on the board. Not theatrics and knee-jerk reactions.

        It’s painful to see two engineering heavyweights in this position, but they made it clear during the winter that they have a number of innovations and hitherto untested concepts in their design and would require time to get them all working together. Had they been conservative in this respect, they could’ve probably ended up among the pack chasing Mercedes, which is pretty much where they were last year, and have been for a while, so what’s the point of getting a works engine deal then? McLaren-Honda are out to win, and the only way they can do that is to close the raw pace deficit to Mercedes in both powertrain and chassis. And to achieve that, they have to be aggressive and push the limits of their design and not play it safe like Ferrari have been doing all these years. I reckon the basic design of the MP4-30 is actually quite strong, and they will be a force to reckon with at the end of the year. Don’t write them off just yet.

        1. @sundarf1

          Don’t you think you are trusting McLaren’s and Honda’s PR a little too much?

  6. It looks like McLaren Honda’s woes are very similar to that of Lotus Renault last year. I wonder if they’ll mimic the Lotus experience and have some really poor performances in the early part of the year and then be mid field towards the end of the year?

    1. @dragoll Interestingly, looking at the average lap time deficit from last year, it’s like Lotus and McLaren have swapped places, while ‘swapping engines’, with Red Bull in the same situation swapping with Ferrari.

      1. Are you suggesting we could be seeing the end of Christian Horner and co by the end of the season? :P

    2. Lotus last year went to Australia with the car completely under developed, just like Mclaren. They barely could keep it on track.

      Then the spanish GP came and Grosjean (cuz Maldonado crashed, of course) qualified it ahead of both Ferraris and scored some good points.

      The same is going to happen with Mclaren. And they won’t have the drawback of funding, that Lotus had last year that hampered further upgrades.

  7. I wasnt trackside today, but was yesterday and compared to last year ALL the cars were much more obviously developed. A full season of “testing”.

    When you’ve done no testing, you’re nowhere. Welcome McLaren/Honda.

    Anyone who were expecting even mid field running from them are kidding themselves. Mercedes spent not only big development dollars but years of TIME in this platform. Renault spent some of that time winning world championships – and there’s no shame in that!

    Time will judge, ups and downs, circle of life etc…

  8. With all that preparation time, all that investment, all the man hours that went into the engine, how have Mclaren come to thiis? If the gap between the intent and the reality is this big, then it looks like they won’t get much higher than the midfield, all season. As a JB fan I am really sad for Jenson as I would like to see him in a decent car. As not at all an Alonso fan, I even have a bit of sympathy for him. I’ll happily come back here and eat my words if they win a race this year. It is hard to think they have a hope, from this dire start.

  9. A bad start for the “once great partnership.” Yes, early days, but still – Honda you had all the time in the world. Yes, it is the qualification for the first race of 2015 and things will brighten up eventually, but still.
    After the testing in Spain I thought that maybe both cars would reach Q2 in AUS. But as it seems – things are a lot worse.
    As a McLaren supporter – I feel sad.
    But, I am quite sure, that I am not as sad as Alonso and Button are.
    All these rumors that Fernando is leaving Ferrari.
    “Oh he is not going anywhere,” people said.
    And when it was official that he is leaving Ferrari and going back to McLaren.
    “We knew it. About time to leave Ferrari,” the same people said.
    Hope the man is doing fine, but right now it must be pretty good staying at home (or wherever Alonso might be) and seeing how far off the car is and think – “Uh, lucky I am not there. Better start calling Arrivabene.”
    And Button. All these”JB for 2015″ campaigns. And now, still with the team, thinking – “Oh, hell no. Should have go to WEC.”
    And Magnussen writing to Alonso – “You better be back in Malaysia.”

    On a more serious side, I am certainly not the only one thinking this – McLaren is simply doing “a Williams.”
    And that is sad.

    Stay tooned for the new documentary on the History Channel titled “McLaren – just what the hell went wrong?”

    1. As a McLaren supporter too, I agree with you that the team is doing “a Williams”….Let’s hope that there will be a revival…But to be honest I ‘m afraid that McLaren is doing “a Lotus”(the old one)(ok, I don’t know the financial status of McL, maybe they ‘ll not get into financial troubles like Lotus and Tyrrell did)…With lack of title sponsorship, a very heavy contract(Alonso’s), the last thing the team needed is a bad finish place in constructors championship. Let’s hope for the best..

  10. I have a feeling that watching this season will be painful for me…

    1. Well you’ll get to know what we Ferrari fans felt last year)) Although I do feel bad for Macca fans, this indeed looks really bad

      1. I think Mclaren fans felt what you felt for 2 years now, they didn’t need this year to feel it. Or haven’t you noticed were Mclaren finished in the championship last year?
        Now they are feeling what it feels to be Marrusia, not Ferrari.

  11. Couple of Formula-E car changes should do it. Into the garage, door down, reappear a minute later with a fresh engine. Jenson’s a triathete, he’ll be good at transitions. Get Kevin to shove a few cars off at the start, limp round and retire the car so they can prepare it for JB’s second stop. With Bottas crocked there could be points on offer and they’ll only need to do 54 or 55 laps if the Mercs disappear off and the safety cars are virtual (so nobody gets their laps back)
    Gis a job Ron. Chief strategist. I’ll bring my own suit.

  12. Well we must be on Plan H now…so why not turn up one of the engines( possibly a lighter fuel load??)…see how it goes…and stop it before it blows… least they should learn something about the engine

    1. Plan H more like Preparation H

  13. i think a fair comparison would be the times mclaren have this weekend, with the times the new engines did last year in melbourne. the car has so much promise, especially in the aero of the car, which might be the best on the grid. they just need milage, so then they can setup up the car correctly, and the powerunit will be mapped correctly. today is a dissapointing result, but was expected given their terrible 12 days of testing.

    1. @kpcart.. I wouldn’t be so sure about the aero. Jenson let slip in an interview that downforce isn’t what it should be and Alan McNish also commented that he had a feeling that lack of power wasn’t the only thing holding the McLaren back. A side by side video replay of Hamilton and Button however, showed a massive deficit in straight line speed and really poor at getting the power down which would point to a lack of downforce. I suspect they haven’t even got close to being able to evaluate the aero with such limited running. This will have a serious knock on effect throughout the season as the other teams improve.

      1. The initial concept of the car may indeed include great aero but because they got so little running they hardly evaluated anything or been able to start thinking of aero upgrades and setup and that means they are now behind that too.
        The other teams probably have a tone of changes since the first test while Mclaren hardly seem to brought much aero upgrades since they first tested the car.

  14. Remind me again why it took six months to decide who was going to drive this pile of poo?

    Was Ron waiting for Coco the Clown to match the car’s image?

    1. Very good point – all three drivers are loosing Big time due to this delay – they could have gotten other seats.

  15. What’s even more embarrassing is that Honda (also Mercedes and Renault) do have a lot of experience with V6s and Turbos. Which wasn’t really the case with Ferrari.

    1. I would actually put Ferrari a long way ahead of Mercedes in experience of V6 Turbos, particularly with regard to F1.

  16. It’s a big disgrace for one of the most successful teams in F1, not even Ferrari fall like this and Williams atleast was not in the back of the pack.
    You can say it’s only the start, but sometimes poor start could be made a terrible end.

  17. The unfortunate thing for McLaren is that the car actually looks like its rather good, Watching the in-car shots through the weekend the balance looks good & watching the telemetry data we get on the in-car-mix feed there mid-corner speed (Especially in the faster stuff) is on-par with the other teams that are just behind Mercedes.

    The primary issue is the power unit, There down on top end speed, Its obviously not as drivable as the Mercedes/Ferrari especially & I’ve also read that there not harvesting & therefore deploying as much power from the ERS systems.

    If they could get at least a bit more power I can see them been somewhere towards the front.

  18. Have seen too much negative criticism toward Mclaren. So what, they are behind schedule. Not to see the potential is short sighted. They will improve that shouldn’t be in doubt, but we will see just by how much they will improve over the course of the season. A title shot in the next few years is the plan, so what does it matter if they even finish the first race, makes not difference to the bigger picture really.

    1. Kroon (@kroonracing)
      14th March 2015, 20:12

      A title shot in the next few years is the plan

      That’ll just coincide with the retirement of their current driver line-up. Great plan.

  19. Ex_McLaren_Fan
    14th March 2015, 16:10

    Probably the biggest disgrace in motorsport history? I don’t remember either Ferrari or Williams failing like this. This is worse than 1997 Mastercard Lola

  20. I think we are speaking too much doom into McLaren’s performance today. Yes they had a bad start, but it is not something they cannot recover from. It could have been because of a certain aggressive path they are taking. I believe that by Barcelona they might get closer to the RBR.

    Well Few things have to be agreed upon.
    1) Honda had an extra year to work on these engines understanding all the pitfall.
    2) McLaren could have provided Honda with a lot of information regarding the challenges with the new V6 PUs.

    I am not saying either of the 2 did not happen, but the results does not indicate that much.

    To those who read too much into coming together of successful partnerships (McLaren-Honda) of the past bringing imminent success in the future , remember it is as good as any 2 new parties coming together. Williams Renault of 2013 disproved that theory.

  21. This is not impressive, but one imagines that Honda could have done what Renault did, with the result of a blown engine and terrible drivability when it stays together. Honda is not yet in CYA mode so they can still stay the course. They don’t need to come and brag about getting their power targets and meet them on the basis of grave compromises.

  22. I haven’t seen much (any?) onboard footage from the McLaren. If it looks planted, and the car doesn’t seem to be lacking downforce and driveability, then conservative engine mapping and teething problems with reliability sound like more valid explanations for the lack of pace. If it’s all over the place on the track, however, that sort of poor performance can’t be rectified with engine development alone (unless it’s down to power delivery and torque), as the chassis and aerodynamics must therefore be a major contributing factor in McLaren’s immensely disappointing overall package.

  23. How many times will Lewis lap them? At four seconds a lap… oh wait… the Mclarens will break down before he catches them…
    This is another example of McLaren trying to be too clever and revolutionary for their own good. Maybe they’ll find 3 seconds this season. Assuming Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull find a second, they’ll still be nowhere.

  24. Can someone find what was the fastest dry time in FP1, FP2 or FP3 in the 2014 Australian GP? I mean, I want to find out how last year’s time of the best developed engine compares against the first year of Honda’s engine.

      1. Thank you for that!
        So last year in dry conditions the best australian lap time set in softs from the team with the best developed engine at that time, was 1’29:375.
        McHonda managed a 1’31.422 today which roughly makes it a Toro Rosso or Force India in 2014 terms..
        Button in 2015 was a 0.9 secs slower than himself comparing it to 2014. 1’31.422 vs 1’30.510. I would assume that car developed to be faster by 1.5 (?) sec during last year? So that would flimsy mean that a 2014 McHonda would be at least 2.5 secs slower than a 2014 McMercedes?

  25. There are bound to be some really good battles between Manor and McLaren this year. Though I think McLaren has the advantage with the more experienced driver line-up.

  26. Hello,
    I’m not a Mclaren fan, but I understand all the fans of the team. I really think that it is too early to make conclusion. Please wait a couple of times before asses performance of the team. As Ron Denis said, it will be impossible to beat Mercedes as a costumer, so it is better to make a couple of steps ack before making any progress. :Please be patient and let the team to make progress with such a complex systems like the energy recovery systems. For some of you, who follow F1 in recent years, you probably remember the first year of Renault in Formula 1 in 2001. I’m sure that the partnership between Mclaren and Honda will be succesful.

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