McLaren waiting for FIA approval on Alonso return

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso will return to action in this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, McLaren has announced.

The team say Alonso will drive “subject to a successful final FIA medical assessment this Thursday 26th March at the Sepang International Circuit”.

Alonso suffered a concussion during a testing accident at the Circuit de Catalunya which kept him from participating in the season opening race weekend in Australia.

“McLaren-Honda is pleased to announce that, subject to a successful final FIA medical assessment this Thursday 26th March at the Sepang International Circuit, Fernando Alonso will return to the cockpit of his MP4-30 car for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix,” said the team in a statement.

The team said Alonso has “spent time with senior engineers discussing the accident and reviewing the comprehensive data and analysis all of which has been shared with the FIA” in a bid to understand the crash.”

Alonso reported an unusual sensation in the car’s handling prior to the crash, which McLaren intends to monitor.

“While there was nothing evident in the extensive car telemetry data, nor anything abnormal in the subsequent reconstructions and laboratory tests, Fernando recalls a sense of ‘heavy’ steering prior to the accident,” said McLaren. “Consequently, the team has fitted an additional sensor to the car, to increase our data capture.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    41 comments on “McLaren waiting for FIA approval on Alonso return”

    1. I’m far from a fan of Alonso, but he does have a massive fanbase, and his absence at Melbourne was clearly felt. It will be odd however to see him trundling around towards the back with Button as I do not expect an improvement from McLaren here.

      1. I agree – if anything, there’s an even greater chance they’ll blow up at some point during the race due to the punishing heat that is a defining characteristic of the Malaysian climate.

        1. I am not so sure. They have had 2 weeks to fix some of the issues so it is entity possible that they will turn the engine up a bit more this time. Bearing in mind they were reportedly running at only 60% power then it looks promising if they manage fix the issues.

          1. They had 18 months and they made no progress, why would you think having 2 weeks in between races will make any difference?

            1. lots of difference, having been able to run the car for 58 laps will give them far more data about how the engine performs that dynamo tests done in the factory, I suspect Honda will make massive gains now they are running there engines every other week

      2. pastaman (@)
        23rd March 2015, 15:01

        You are right, it will super weird seeing two world champions duking it out in back!

        1. @pastaman Could be one to research ahead of the event for stats and facts. Have two world champions ever finished a race in the last two positions or qualified in the last to positions (Manor may scupper the latter by qualifying last but it seems even less likely that Manor can finish than McLaren).

    2. I believe they may well turn the wick up….

      1. I was very surprised to hear Ron saying it is very important to preserve the engines – I would have thought the odd grid penalty for using a extra power train or too would not have been the end of the world v the info/experience of running at full power – I mean it is not as if they sacrificing starting from pole.

        1. Yeah, but the penalties all come at the end of the season when they hope to be competitive (it would ruin their chances at any late points to be taking penalties from early season mishaps)

      2. turn the wick up

        @baron : LOL.. its one of those trending words in F1 2015…

      3. I do not think he was at all thinking about avoiding engine penalties. Rather it has to do with the fact that starting over everytime with a new PU, if they explode very frequently, will make it more difficult for McHonda to get reliable data/information of how the PU evolves when different configurations/modes/parts are applied/used, and how engine characteristics change over time/usage. Graceful decline in engine life span will probably make it easier for them to make more reliable assumptions and make speed up the development.

    3. As usual, strange conclusions can be made. As with Jules accident, the lack of official information makes the rumours spread.
      Nor Mc Laren, nor Honda and nor ALO can benefit of being the worst team on the grid (assuming Manor will not race in Malaysia).
      I guess ALO is praying for a Renault buyout of Toro Rosso and a Briatore comeback. Under current market conditions, finding a pay crash test dummy, I’m sorry, finding a pay driver shouldn’t be difficult.

    4. Bittersweet ..nice to see him back in action but probably he will be fighting with the manors(if they make it to the grid) and his teammate for the very last positions..

      1. @puneethvb How will they be fighting the Manors? The Manors will probably be running at a similar pace to last year with a 2014 PU, while McLaren, even with the wick down, ran with the same pace as the Force India of last year.

        1. Jenson specifically mentioned that he was as quick if not quicker than the F.I. in the corners..

          1. The part of the track where you dont use the engine you mean?
            It would be total disaster if the McLaren car didnt had a better chassi and aero than FI.

    5. Despite being happy he will be back I doubt he’ll get much screen time in the car as he’ll most likely be driving on his own in second to last place.

    6. Now there was an “unusual sensation” in the car. Whatever that is, it seems to rule out wind, bad handling, distraction, etc. i.e., normal stuff. I’ve never heard of a driver crashing consequent to feeling an “unusual sensation.” Evil track duppies, no doubt. Look for lots of incense burning in the McLaren garages this weekend.

      1. Did you read the article? The McLaren statement clearly says that Alonso reported “a sense of ‘heavy’ steering prior to the accident.”

        1. I did. I don’t see what “a sense of heavy steering” adds to “unusual.” Especially as Mclaren have not found any steering system failure, or any other mechanical issue. Time for an exorcism I believe. Kidding aside, as a driver, it must be hard too get into a car you can’t trust in its basic behavior.

    7. I really hope he’s fit to race. And I hope the team have found a way to cool the MGU Honda buried inside the engine somewhere. I can’t believe that Honda, after seeing the other teams’ successes and failures last year, rocked up with an engine that the car can’t cool. Did they really not put the complete PU in a car tub on the dyno as Merc did? Hopefully it’s not quite as stupid as it seems, otherwise I don’t see it helping Fernando’s blood pressure.

      1. @lockup – yes that part baffles me to no end. Just seems so impossible, but I cant explain how else they got all the way to testing without knowing it would run too hot.

        What bothers me maybe even more is that Jenson claimed he had to fuel save most of the last race!




        1. MGU-K far from optimum operation = inadequate energy supplement to ICE = ICE works harder esp during acceleration = fuel consumption increase

      2. Well, Ferrari rocked up with a car whose aero was so heavily compromised for a (weak) engine that the whole package suffered badly…and the aero guys and engine guys ended up at serious odds (and unemployed). So you can go the other extreme with ill effects. This is no doubt a really tough area of design planning. A car that is over-cooled has too much drag and compromised efficiency. Every year 2009-13 it seemed Newey drew a car that would not properly cool the Renault engine and KERS, even with the lower output of that system. It always seemed to be an issue there but the overall aero was so good that RBR dominated even with a relatively weak engine.

        1. The comparison that all the teams did of the engines proved that the engine deficit only existed in Horner’s head (and RBR’s faked analysis). The Renault engine was only marginally lower in horse power. Yet it used less fuel which completely compensated for the slightly lower power output.

        2. It was actually the other way round with Ferrari, they compromised the engine in order to maximise aerodynamics. It didn’t work out though – James Allison estimated that their chassis was about 0.3 – 0.45s a lap down on Mercedes’ (he said the deficit was 40% chassis and 60% engine). Given that Ferrari’s strategy of compromising the PU to improve the chassis was a complete failure, it doesn’t bode well for McLaren’s strategy of going aggressive with the PU packaging to create a “size zero” car. I guess time will tell if McLaren-Honda’s approach has only created reliability problems or if their horsepower has suffered as well…

          1. Going back to Ferrari – I wonder if Ferrari’s 2014 strategy (purposefully compromising the PU to improve the chassis) could partially explain Ferrari’s big leap in engine performance this year?
            I remember that one of the engine chiefs who was fired last year spoke out in public afterwards, and said that they could have easily made the engine much better in 2014 but they were asked to compromise its performance to allow for better aerodynamics.

            So perhaps the big leap partially thanks to them reversing that philosophy and applying the PU performance they could have introduced in the first place (they have clearly made some great all round gains in both PU and chassis though).

      3. I guess you have to remember that Honda have only had 18 months for development, while Mercedes has spent over 3 years developing their PU so far. So while Honda got to see other team’s successes and failures last year, any advantage from that will likely have been (more than) balanced out by having spent less than half as long in development. Given the complexity of these power units, I imagine the lack of development time compared to their rivals has been a serious handicap.

        While I was initially surprised to see McLaren-Honda struggling as much as they are, I started to understand it a bit more after realising the differences in development times.

        However, given that they had less time to develop, it seems like it was a bad idea to prioritise performance over reliability to the extent that they have. I understand that they want to be aggressive to close the gap to Mercedes, but I wonder if they have gone too far with the whole “size zero” thing – I don’t think they’ll be able to develop the car or PU very well if they aren’t accumulating data from running reliably at the edge of performance. So their lack of reliability now will likely have the knock-on effect of hurting their performance in the long run (as they will be behind where they wanted to be in terms of development).

        1. Yeah it’s obviously not simple @polo but it’s just SO elementary, on the surface, to develop the PU in a tub/engine cover as Merc did, given they had the example to follow. And to have specs for the airflow to cool the MGU which both the PU and the car meet.

          I can see how the short timeframe wouldn’t help, but how can it have been a surprise? Surely the idea to package the MGU must have come with a plan for cooling it, that included the ducts in the bodywork?

          I dunno. I’m sure there are reasons, but I’d love to know what they are, and if they’re reasons that won’t keep repeating.

    8. McHonda pay $1.8m per race for Alonso to race the “2015 Caterham”, based on Button’s performance in Melbourne – which was masterful as the car survived race distance, which clearly was not something he or the team expected – this is going fun…..

      1. sorry if I missed it, but where has Alonso’s salary been posted? Interesting that if your numbers are correct Ferrari are paying his replacement even more (that is if those Ferrari numbers are correct).

    9. The opportunitys like well.

    10. Button is upbeat on the car – don’t think he’d say McHonda can challenge Merc this year if he didn’t mean it.
      I’m thinking there will be big improvements each race. Two top 5 drivers who know their stuff…look out!

      1. Didn’t Button also say in winter testing last year that the mp4-29 was the best car he’s ever drove (or something along those lines)? Button is a cool guy but you have to understand any comment these top drivers make is an approved sound bite by the PR/Lawyers at Mclaren/Honda. They are looking for money.

        1. Didn’t Button also say in winter testing last year that the mp4-29 was the best car he’s ever drove

          Not that I recall.

          1. Button has always been “positive” about bad cars — remember EarthDreams?

    11. I wish ALO the best (F1 needs him) but I still don’t understand the Toyota Prius Championship F1 has become. Thankfully MotoGP is starting soon.

      1. Fine, go watch MotoGP then and haunt those sites saying how much better it is than F1 instead of coming here to moan.

    12. After 15 years in the sport, Alonso is back where he started…. at the back with the slowest car on the grid!

      Who would have thought?

      Really wish Bernie puts some pressure on Mercedes to pair up Alonso and Hamilton for next season, that would definitely make for an interesting season, and would instantly up fan interest

    13. When was the last time Alonso started from the back of the grid??

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