Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2015

Fuel saving vexes McLaren pair before retirements

2015 Canadian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2015Fuel saving was a major preoccupation for both McLaren drivers during the Canadian Grand Prix – and both were destined not to finish on another difficult weekend for McLaren.

Both drivers were sidelined with exhaust failures of different types, according to Honda.

During the race an unhappy Fernando Alonso refused to go along with his team’s instruction to save fuel at one point, having already been passed by several of his rivals. When warned by race engineer Mark Temple they would have “big problems” if he didn’t, Alonso replied: “Already I have big problems now.”

“Driving with this, looking like amateur,” he continued. “So I race and then I concentrate on the fuel.”

Afterwards Alonso denied the message had been a sign of his frustration. “I have some battles going on, I have to save fuel, save tyres,” he explained, “and after three or four reminders I said ‘first let me race’ because there is my good motivation now”.

“I have cars around, and then we are alone at the end of the race we save fuel at that race. That’s the only thing: we are fighting for positions that are not that important.”

“Also the fuel saving on the optimal race is not even that important. So we just need to have some fun – and I did, having some battles. It was the best part of the race, probably, when we were fighting with other cars.”

Jenson Button said the Montreal circuit showed up his car’s poor fuel efficiency – and warend it could be a problem at the next raec in Austria as well.

“I think one of our biggest issues was fuel-saving,” he said. “Then you lose tyre temperature as well. The pace on the actual old soft tyres was not actually too bad.”

“Everyone fuel-saves but if you don’t have the straight=line speed you use more fuel because you’re at full throttle for longer,” he added.

“Maybe some of it is efficiency, maybe we’re running too much downforce or something, I don’t know, but something we need to solve for the next one because the next one’s also quite tough for straights. Not as bad as here, but still it’s going to be a tricky one for us.”

2015 Canadian Grand Prix

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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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52 comments on “Fuel saving vexes McLaren pair before retirements”

  1. Oh, boy…

    They still drive like the champions they are. Alonso defending so hard was nice to see. But, man… the frustration for those guys… can’t imagine how hard it must be to swallow…

    1. Such painful to watch, and indeed nice to see Alonso still giving hard time to the others.

    2. certainly, ALO defending was one of the best things to watch today…

    3. As an Alonso fan it was hard to watch him jump up to P11 in the opening laps, and then one by one get picked off by cars he had a no chance in hell to fight with. I did predict Mclaren to be the slowest cars after Manor this weekend, but the performance gap even to Renault was just ridiculous.

      I think in the next 3 or 4 races if Honda still cannot get their act together, then the team environment will get toxic. I feel for both Alonso and Button. No one expected Honda to be such a massive failure.

  2. On a positive note all I can say is that McLaren and Honda are going through a series of experiments to develop a race winning car by Australia 2016.

    Red bull now looked liked RedBull of 2006.

    It is sometimes hard for me to ignore the fact that if Button had stayed on with Brawn GP/Mercedes in 2010/he would be a double WDC by now and leading the championship !!!!

    1. lol that’s true.

    2. That’s one hell of a what if.

    3. You’re going 5 years back, creating alternate timeline of events where you somehow choose Jenson’s teammates, concluding they will lose and calling it fact?

      1. I wouldn’t bet against Button. That guy is weird. He outscored Hamilton, he won races alongside him, he’s matching Alonso. He had some bad years, but more than that he had some bad bad cars I think. It is possible he is seriously underestimated.

        1. @bola you are right. Button is definitely underrated. He can match Lewis and Alonso pretty easily. Plus the guy has the right spirit and attitude .

          When Button moved to McLaren, I myself on this very same website commented that Lewis would have Button for breakfast Lunch and dinner.

          I admit that I was horribly wrong. I had to eat my words. When Button arrived it was “Lewis’s Mclaren ” but he matched him in every aspect to the point that McLaren was more comfortable with Button than their own prodigy Lewis. I always felt that Lewis left McLaren because of the increased pressure and competition from Button. Remember the tweetgate !!!!

  3. F1 must look so attractive to new engine suppliers now.

    1. @david-a It was the engine suppliers that helped come up with the current formula.

      1. Were Honda involved with this formula?

        1. @alan77 Pretty sure they were.

          They were also involved in the discussions about Indycar’s new for 2012 engine formula & Indycar also ended up going to V6 Turbo’s from 3ltr V8s.

    2. To be fair, most potential new engine suppliers probably will realize Honda was active in F1 after their partnership with McLaren and they were pretty terrible back then as well.

  4. I don’t really see much point in fuel saving in a car that’s unlikely to see the finish line and not score points if it does anyway.

  5. October 2014,Ron Dennis:”the engine is a piece of jewelry”..Yes, but it turned out to be a faux bijoux..

  6. To finish first, first you have to finish, It’s going to be years before McLaren/Honda win a race let alone challenge for a title.

    How can a engine so down on power have a problem with fuel consumption?

    1. It’s also powering McLaren’s PR department and it must be sizable.

      1. McLaren’s PR department could probably send out a press release of 2 pages and it would only communicate the equivalent of ‘we have nothing new to report’.

    2. It’s inefficient compared to all of the other engines out there.
      The other engines simply extract more power out of the same amount of fuel.

      1. Mr win or lose
        7th June 2015, 22:53

        If it’s true that the Honda engine produces much more noise than any other engine, then it may not come as a surprise that it uses more fuel.
        However, I remember a stat in 2013 that showed that Circuit Gilles Villeneuve had the lowest fuel consumption, so I’m actually surprised to see teams struggle with their fuel consumption.

        1. Is that not because the team will always put in the minimum amount required to just finish that particular course.

          Knowing the teams, they will also factor in a safety car (which never appeared) hence they were all low on fuel.

  7. I’ve thought about it a lot when I saw the hype about McLaren Honda last year; Honda were absolutely terrible their last time out in F1. From odd management calls to, ultimately, driving BAR in the ground in just three years, there was very little to be excited about, but McLaren, Honda and the media thought it was 1993 or something.

    I’m not saying McLaren Honda can’t or won’t be successful. All I’m saying is, people forgot about Honda’s results as an engine supplier in the 00s and their terrible management of their F1 team between 2006 and 2008. They might have to come back from further than most ever anticipated.

    1. @npf1 You ‘re absolutely right. Remembering Honda after 1992, 4 wins courtesy of Mugen, a partnership(full works) with BAR that produced 2 pole positions in 5 seasons, and a works campaign that gave only 1 win and was slower than Super Aguri in 2007…There’s no glimpse of hope…If McLaren reach championship challenge form the next year, I ‘ll come back and eat my words, but I ‘m afraid that will not happen.

    2. @npf1

      people forgot about Honda’s results as an engine supplier in the 00s

      Outside of 2002 (Where they pushed performance too far & suffered a lot of failures) the Honda engines’s were generally pretty good & helped BAR to 2nd in the constructors championship & Button 3rd in the drivers standings in 2004.

      The problems beyond 2004 were usually more chassis than engine.

      1. Mr win or lose
        7th June 2015, 22:47

        The car was like a parachute, but both Button and Barrichello felt the Mercedes engine was a huge improvement in 2009.

      2. Their period in the 90s saw a lot of engine failures as well. It really came together for BAR in 2004, but generally speaking Honda was just a mediocre engine in a mediocre package at BAR.

    3. @npf1 you are right.

      Just because McLaren Honda was successful in 80s does not magically assure success in 2015. Those were different times, regulations, economy, management, drivers and audience than today .

      Remember Williams Renault was a success story of the 90s. look what happened when they got together in 2013 !!!

      Success 30 years ago does not mean anything today. They are as new and nascent as any other new partnership.

  8. Underpowered, thirsty and unreliable.
    They really are giving Renault a run for their money…

    1. Their not. They are well behind Renault. If everyone used last years engines which was also everyones 1st year Honda would still be rubbish but with McLaren chassis getting worse by the year a perfect storm is created. Never thought they could beat the lows Williams have had but they seem to have done it. Their PR however is world class.

      1. “Never thought they could beat the lows Williams have had but they seem to have done it.” LOL +1

      2. spafrancorchamps
        8th June 2015, 9:55

        McLaren has got a good chassis this year. You can tell by how it drives through corners relevant to others. People seem to forget this is the first McLaren chassis that is made by Prodromou, and that the team responsible for the chassis’ from the last couple of years are not around anymore.

        You could clearly see yesterday that their biggest problem is the Honda engine. It is so slow that it is easily costing you 1.5-2.0 seconds around this track.

    2. I should have added a tag before the last sentence to made my intentions clear :-D

  9. The partnership with Peugeot, was failed. But I am concerned that the late partnership with Honda will be worse than that. I ‘m afraid that it will turn out to be a complete disaster. Because I have a feeling that Honda cannot cope with such complex power units. Regarding street racing machines like Type-R or motorbikes, Honda is a good constructor(motorbikes maybe the best), but IMO in this hybrid formula they will struggle heavily..

    1. @leongtv6 that’s rubbish. Honda, like a lot of manufacturers, is perfectly capable of delivering a quality engine. They’re also well in tune with hybrid technology, both electric and hydrogen.

      The problem is they’ve had half the development time of the incumbent teams and they’re heavily hamstrung by the regulations which, as predicted, do not allow the manufacturer to essentially design the issues out.

      1. @optimaximal How much development time did Ferrari have for their PU before January 2014?

        1. An entire year – They knew what they had to change almost immediately on both the engine and the car, plus they had a good reliable base to work from. They were just prevented from making the required changes by the homologation rules.

    2. I have no idea why you think they cannot deal with hybrid engines, they do make and sell cars with hybrid engines. They produce the most engines of any company on the planet, they have incredibly clever people working on the engine and they have massive amounts of resource to throw at the project. I think the engine is no worse at this point than the Renault last year and this is detuned right now. In terms of room to grow, this engine has far more potential than the Renault as it is far more innovative.

      1. The fact that they make and sell cars with hybrid engines doesn’t automatically mean that they can deliver a dominant F1 PU. On the other hand, the facts that Honda or Mugen-Honda struggled a lot in F1 between 93 and 08, says more about their potential. Just a personal opinion…

      2. RP (@slotopen)
        8th June 2015, 2:22

        Honda’s hybrids are disappointing, at least compared to Toyota’s Synergy Drive. Their current range is light on turbos too, at least here in the States.

        But I didn’t think that would matter. Maybe it didnt. But Honda has been disappointing, embarrassing really.

  10. Should’ve gone and done Le Mans, because Alonso is wasting his time. Kevin Magnussen could have got the same (lack of) results this year.
    Button retired pretty close to the end. Did he run out of fuel?

    1. the article says they both had exhaust failures

  11. When is the last time Alonso reached this far in the year with zero points? It’s really appalling what he is dealing with. But he really made his own bed here.

    I think Mclaren need to scrap the size-zero theory and start over with a more basic chassis concept that accommodates the fundamentals of the new PU system. They tried to fly before walking and they are not even crawling.

    1. Mr win or lose
      8th June 2015, 8:43

      2001 I guess.

  12. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Alonso back at Ferarri? With Kimi’s K running out and perhaps a proformace clause in Alonso’s K maybe there’s a chance. That would tune me in.

    1. No. That would be a very stupid thing to do for Ferrari.

  13. Lots of comments here.. Many people seem to know better than Honda and McLaren it appears.

    If you look through history, Honda have always been slow to start off with. When they came into F1 in the 80s with Williams, the FW09 was nowhere near the front. The FW10 gradually improved and Piquet ended up winning the title with the FW11 a year later. The rest is.. Well.. History.

    The Bar Honda project started off a disaster and it took a few years to become a steady front runner. Their biggest mistake was buying over BAR, when they should have just focused on supplying engines. If I’m not mistaken, Honda V8 was one of the more powerful units on the grid, the draw for the team was poor chassis development and complex management structures. They should havehave juat let Dave Richards run the team.

    So basically, it’s not a real surprise that Honda have started out so slow, because they have been historically proven to do so. They will get there, they have to. Failure is not an option for Honda at this stage.

    At the risk of sounding cheesy.. I believe in the Power of Dreams!

    1. @jaymenon10 honestly if Honda is relying on the power of dreams to win the championship then only heavens can help Button and Alonso.

      I hope the McLaren investors and shareholders believe in the power of dreams too. I guess that might be the title of the presentation to them this week !!!!

    2. @jaymenon10 as far as I concern, Honda V8 was among less powerful engines with Renault, Toyota. Their V10 was quite good, though not powerful as BMW or Ferrari, I guess as powerful as Mercedes at the time. I’m sure they would improve but the last effort was just good at best.

  14. How is it that Mercedes and Ferrari were able to build fast or reliable PU’s from the go and Ferrari able to improve on the PU for the second year while Renault and Honda have got it so horribly wrong.

    Honda have done worse than Renault but they only have two cars’ data to work with whereas Renault had 8 and have gotten worse this year.

    A lot of big names at McLaren but going nowhere.

    1. spafrancorchamps
      8th June 2015, 10:03

      Ferrari messed up last year too. It was a Renault engine that managed to win three races last season, remember? So saying that Ferrari build a good engine from the start and Renault didn’t, isnt entirely correct.

      But Ferrari managed to improve, while Renault has taken a huge step back.

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