McLaren drivers wary of low Shanghai temperatures

2015 Chinese Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button suspect the cooler temperatures usually seen at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix will mitigate any progress McLaren have made with their car.

McLaren appeared to have gained at least a second of lap time in hot conditions at Sepang. But China’s round of the world championship is usually held in much lower temperatures.

“I don’t think our car package will be as well suited here as it was in Malaysia,” said Alonso, “especially if the weather is as cold and windy as it usually is in early springtime in Shanghai”.

“There is a feeling that the expected cooler weather will make it harder to generate tyre temperature,” Button explained, “which could mean that any progress we make doesn’t necessarily translate to a lap time benefit”.

“It’s a pity we didn’t finish the race in Malaysia,” he added. “We’d made solid progress up until that point in the weekend, and it would have been a fantastic boost to get a car home in amongst some of the cars in the midfield pack”.

“Still, it’s a target to aim for in China, and I hope we can build upon our pace and performance in Malaysia. However, China’s two long straights – each preceded by slow-to-medium-speed corners – will place extra emphasis on the power unit.”

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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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    39 comments on “McLaren drivers wary of low Shanghai temperatures”

    1. Liam McShane (@)
      7th April 2015, 11:35

      Rolling in the excuses already.

      1. @motor_mad I wouldn’t say excuses. They are “managing expectations”.

        Many will have looked at the performance in the last race as a very positive sign, in spite of the retirements. However, if that performance is expected in China, they will be disappointed. Hence the team let everyone know in advance that they don’t expect to do as well.

        1. A lot of people and media here in Spain are a perfect example of that xkcd comic.

          They are thinking that in Barcelona they will be fighting with Ferrari and even Mercedes

          1. :D I LOVE xkcd, there’s one for every situation!

            1. nice to see some fellow XKCD fanatics over here!
              and, yes, there is… :D

          2. @oletros: I have put money on Alonso for the title, based on an extrapolation like that. Was that too optimistic, do You think?

      2. They have rolled out another extension of the excuses for the Bahrain GP

    2. Just transfer the excess heat from that Honda power-train into the wheel rims and get on with it. What are you guys doing there at MTC?

      1. If for no other reason than to hear the announcer use the phrase “Great Flaming Balls of Rubber!!!”

      2. COTY

    3. Lets see if Manor can get 2 cars running this weekend.. at least Mclaren won’t have a world champion on the last row of the grid

      God help this team

    4. This is coming from the team that has been saying they have believe they will have a race winning car by the end of the season, apparently one of the best chassis / aero package on the grid. These things theyre saying sound like a midfield team struggling.

      1. They said race winning, whether that race was in F1 or F3 they did not mention.

    5. Then McLaren must at least be in the top five come Spain. They’re slowly starting to use up all possible excuses.

      1. Never underestimate people’s creativeness in inventing excuses. As the Alonso crashgate debacle subsides, they can use their creative power to justify running at the back of the pack….while keeping the team in perfect harmony…pathetic.

        Hopefully Ron Dennis is eating extra large portions of humble pie….

        1. Are you saying strong winds will be their downfall in Spain?

          1. At what point does Alonso say, I can’t stand this anymore, I wish I was still in a Ferrari?

            1. He may as well say, “I could buy Manor, and be just as fast”.

              I do think that McHonda will pull it together, it’s just more of a question of ‘when?’.

            2. @maxxsilver

              When SebVet comes in 2 nd and Kimi 3rd in WDC this year :)

    6. In Melbourne, they said the temperature was too hot to tune up their engine to the true potential and had to be conservative. Now, with China, they say the temperature is too cold to bring the McLaren to their true potential. Will they at least work in Japan where Honda developed this engine or should we plan a race on Mars so that McLaren can work at the right temperature?

    7. Mclaren must continue to make steps forward of the magnitude they showed between Australia-Malaysia, if they want to challange for a race win this year. The cannot stall, and blame this or that, they need progress at whatever track.

    8. If I’m in charge of McLaren, I’d run their car at maximum capacity already an bring extra spares of whole power units. Or, they can run “fast” car (maximum tune) and “slow” car (detuned version like now) for engine and aero development respectively. Alonso and Button can alternate who running what configuration or just decide it with coin toss for each GP.

      The problem with their approach is no one knows what their true pace is (even McLaren too I believe) and at the moment it will also slowing their non engine development of the car. They already giving up the championship this year, so they shouldn’t care about component use penalty anyway. It’s better to see them starts outside top 10 with asterisk in their time (because penalties) rather than seeing them starts in back row with pace like a backmarker.

      The problem with this approach is of course money, but if McLaren or Honda willing to overpay Alonso, I think money is less concern for them than winning ASAP.

      1. Doing that though could seriously hurt their chances for a better championship placement at the end of the year. Right now they are expecting to be able to easily be in the points by the end of the season, so having to serve penalties then could be pretty bad.

        1. They already giving up the championship this year

          No kidding….

        2. I don’t think it’ll be worse than what they’re doing now. They can afford to take as many penalty as they want while there’s no hope for getting points anyway. And when they finally get it right, they can stack the component changes on single race and treat them like throwaway race so other races wont have penalty. Also since their penalties is applied first (assuming they announce using new parts before practice 1) there still a chance they actually start ahead some driver that get a penalty later in that weekend.

          I think the main problem is how quick they can run in maximum performance without being scared of their reliability. Taking slow steps like now is good when you have unlimited testing so they can focus on clearing one problem before another, but that is not the case here. They only have 19 weekend plus 2 in season testing. So personally I think the best approach is to run as much as possible and blow as many engine as it takes to identify as many problems as they can get in 1 weekend. Then hopefully they can fix all those problem for next race and do it all over again until they have confidence in their reliability.

          1. Think is, you cannot choose when to take the penalty, you do when you run out of components. And if you can’t qualify high enough you carry them through to the next race. So it makes sense to me to save the engines now, so they can run at 100% later.

            After all, if Honda doesn’t sort the power unit issues, aerodynamics are pretty much limited.

            1. The team decide when they want to change component. If they want to change every race, they can do that, just pay the penalty. That’s why last year we have speculation if some teams want to deliberately take penalty before Abu Double to get fresh engine in it (fortunately no one does that).

              Also this year the penalty is not carried over to next race. The worst thing that could happen is 10 sec stop go penalty in 1st lap, which they can gamble on early safety car on some tracks to eliminate that extra penalty anyway.

    9. Honda used too much ressources and money to get Alonso, they should’ve concentrated just a little on the powertrain.

      1. ]@palle No. Just. Plain. No.

    10. “I don’t think our car package will be as well suited here as it was in Malaysia,”

      ‘well suited’ is a very strong term right now, Nando…

    11. Why do they always leave the drivers to offer explanations? Surely an engineer should be consulted/quoted.. I am quite sure that both Alonso & Button will drive their socks of, hot or cold.

      For the life of me, I cannot understand why the drivers are left holding the baby.. (and made to look bad)

    12. @Baron: i.e. let the drivers offer explanations, when things are going well and let the engineers take the bashing when it goes like …McLaren spring 2015?
      In the case of drivers like Maldonado and Paul di Resta, who is/was never at fault, it might even be fair to split it that way;-)

    13. Mclaren wary of cool temperatures as it doesn’t suit the car/engine… They are also worried about the blackness of the tarmac on tracks in the next few races, as it also does not suit the car. Additionally, Mclaren are also concerned with the other cars on the same track at the same time as them, as racing with other people does not suit their car/engine package…

      1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend, Don’t forget about the wind as well! :)

    14. ….lets just hope that they get their act together soon. I guess everybody involved underestimated the challenge of getting these engines up to scratch.

      I have faith in Honda, this will come good, it has to. It will be a PR nightmare for Honda if it doesnt, especially with Toyota winning WEC last year.

    15. I’m still gobsmacked at how far behind the dev curve Honda is. If there wasn’t journalistic and photographic evidence of the McHonda’s tepid pace, I’d feel like I was in Max’s Death-to-Dennis-holo-entertainment complex – the family edition.

      Honda had the oppourtunity to glean the performance data from Merc’s unit. They had solid benchmarks to test against. They had an extra year to develop the hybrid powertrain, to run their powerplant 24/7 in hot, cooling restricted environments. But, it appears they got their development streams crossed with MTC’s and tested the power unit in the wind tunnel exclusively. For a few hours per week.

      I would suggest it is already a PR nightmare for Honda – they and Macca were so brash and confident last year. It’s not 1988 anymore. They have over-promised and under-delivered.

      The only solution for Mclaren now is replace Dennis and poach Marko and Horner, who have the people skills and experience to deal with under-performing engine partners. ;-)

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