‘Disaster’ if McLaren’s Vandoorne misses F1 chance

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: ART GP2 team manager team manager Sebastien Philippe says “something is wrong” with F1 if runaway leader Stoffel Vandoorne misses out on promotion in 2016.


Comment of the day

Renault’s return may not be a foregone conclusion
Lotus reckon they’re heading for (re-)marriage with Renault but @MazdaChris thinks they might get jilted at the altar:

I’m still not convinced that this buyout is going to go ahead. I’m sure all the good intentions are there, and there’s a will to make it happen from all sides, but there are some very big obstacles to this being completed successfully. Firstly the issue of Estone’s mounting tax bill, now running into millions, which needs to be resolved one way or another in nine weeks’ time. Someone somewhere needs to front the money for that. Retaining Maldonado (as unpleasant a prospect as it may be) may go some way to mitigating this with the PDVSA money, but it’s by no means a trivial matter, and is just one of many unresolved debt issues for Enstone. Issues which will see it put into administration and wound up should nobody step forward.

Secondly, one of the crucial sticking points of the deal is the insistence of Renault that they should be given CCB status and put into the Strategy Group. While Ecclestone may have made positive noises about this to the public, behind closed doors such deals are never as straightforward as they seem. And crucially, with two teams now lodging a formal request for the EU to investigate the legitimacy of this governance and commercial model, it hardly seems the right time for FOM to start making new commercial arrangements and handing out advance payments amounting to tens of millions. Again, a deadline looms in nine weeks’ time, and the EU’s competitions commission moves more slowly than a McLaren-Honda. It’s unlikely that there will be any EU decision made before Enstone’s next court appearance, and it’s equally unlikely that Renault will simply buy the team out on a promise from Ecclestone.

All of which in my mind adds up to a situation where the team’s future is far from certain, despite all the positive noises coming from all concerned parties.

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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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91 comments on “‘Disaster’ if McLaren’s Vandoorne misses F1 chance”

  1. Can window cleaners walk on water or am I missing something here?

    1. It’s less than a foot deep there. They’ll be wearing waders, or perhaps even just wellies.

      the water gets deeper further out.


    2. Brush has a lot of downforce. They are hanging from it.

    3. They’re in waders

    4. They’ve got the power of dreams

    5. unfortunately, they lose one or two window washers a year to sharks…

      1. @uan – Some say that Ron takes his morning dip in that lake. He will have already dealt with the sharks.

        1. Actually he walks across it every morning

          1. LMAO

    6. But sometimes actually inside the building….

  2. I figured the McLaren windows would have a film over them that one could just rip off when they got dirty.

    1. @chaddy – Very good!

  3. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    3rd October 2015, 2:34

    Ugh. Why must they put the camera at the very bottom of the helmet? Putting it just above the visor or on the side of the helmet gives a must better representation of what the driver sees.

    1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
      3rd October 2015, 10:01

      I’d like it to be exactly at eye height to get a good idea of what the drivers (don’t) see. @tophercheese21

      1. The sad thing is, these cameras at eye level inside the visor have been around for years in Indycar, why F1 has never use them is mind boggeling. Imagine this around Monaco:


        1. Excellent, thank you.

      2. David Coulthard had a helmet mounted camera during his last ever race in 2008 at Brazil which gave a really excellent driver’s point of view (though unfortunately DC crashed out at the first corner so there wasn’t much footage in the end). I’m surprised in the 7 years since then nobody else has taken it and developed it further as it provided a much more exciting viewpoint than the static roll hoop cam which has provided and still does most of the onboard coverage and can sometimes come dangerously close to rendering the art of driving an F1 car as, well, just a little bit dull…

          1. WilliamsWilliams
            6th October 2015, 9:43

            oh that 2013 engine note!
            Thanks for the reminders of what F1 used to sound like. =)

        1. di Grassi did a good one, he had the camera literally in front of one of his eyes in the helmet and drove using the other eye! I think it was in a Formula E test?

    2. I think they put on their Facebook page that the video was supposed to demonstrate how much extra work the driver is doing by pushing all the buttons on the wheel.

  4. “Mercedes lost £76.9m in championship year” !

    And how much did Sepp Ecclestone make?

    1. @budchekov If you are trying to make an argument against Ecclestone’s distribution of F1’s money, Mercedes is not the team you want to use. Mercedes, like Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Williams and (currently negotiating) Renault, has a bilateral contract with Ecclestone that makes sure money is in some way or another reaching their pockets, at the expense of smaller teams (Force India, Sauber, Manor, before Catterham and Lotus).

      Mercedes loss of money has nothing to do with F1’s money distribution, but with them spending a ridiculous amount of it on the development of the car/PU, money they more than make up by the marketing boost they got, valued to be around $2.8bn (£1.8bn).

  5. I agree with Hulkenberg on excessive practice. They should just cut P1 and P2 down to an hour each. Take the saved hour and put it into more private testing for the teams.

    1. It is very funny how Hulkenberg says we should cut the practice times otherwise drivers who are having difficulties can catch up with “better” drivers. Then Perez says we shouldn’t cut the practice time as there is enough time for some long runs in P2, and quali runs in P3, and P1 is pretty much useless.

      They canon remove P1 and do extra testing at another time. It would be more expensive. This is they cheapest way to do extra tests.

      1. Yeah I believe the cost of testing is mostly hiring a circuit and transporting all the gear, which obviously they don’t need to do at a race weekend. Having said that, they don’t often do a lot of testing in practice as they’re limited on tyres, engine mileage etc.

        Considering the amount of time teams usually spend in the garage I’d say they could probably chop an hour off practice, I’m sure I’ve heard feeder categories complain that they don’t get enough track time because of F1 practice.

        1. @georgedion
          How about keeping the current sessions, but only allow development drivers and rookies to drive on Friday* ?
          Young guys get an opportunity to test, or develop during their rookie season, and the teams get to do some set up work or testing while also evaluating young drivers.

          *except in the inaugural race at a new circuit, development drivers limited to 2 season’s worth of Friday sessions

          1. @beneboy Agree – or cut some time off and give it to GP2/GP3 who always need more track time (and who are generally young developing drivers).

            I think all of the teams have a reserve on site – yet only Palmer has reliably been getting any mileage this year in FP1s, and Grosjean is still performing strongly. Sutil, Gutierrez and Magnussen haven’t even driven in any as the reserve..

  6. So lets see..next years grid

    Force India

    ..16 cars going racing! Brilliant

    1. ..16 cars going racing! Brilliant

      Makes the Codemasters games seem more realistic.

    2. @jaymenon10, it’s a possibility, and perhaps not even a worst-case scenario. Frankly I’m amazed Manor has managed to attend all races this season, but I wouldn’t rule out that they don’t make it onto the grid next year. Also, Force India and Sauber have been struggling financially for years now, and their recent complaint with the EU probably means they are not doing great at the moment.

      So, I’m sincerely hoping to have 22 cars on the grid next year, but, including Haas, I can only really count on 10.

      1. manor will be the toro rosso of mercedes they will be there next year.

      2. @adrianmorse
        With the Mercedes engine news recently the feeling coming from Manor has actually been quite upbeat. John Booth said something about building a foundation this year so that they’re ready to develop next year’s car.

    3. @jaymenon10 I think if there is less than 18 cars the 3rd car rule comes into play? So Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams and McLaren would have to bring another car and make it 20 cars. McLaren – Vandoorne easy. For the other three, it might be harder to say who drives.

  7. Andrew Moore
    3rd October 2015, 3:57

    I find it bothersome that the team that won both championships (mercedes) lost more money than the entire operating budget of the lowest place team (marussia). Ironically, from an econonmist’s point of view (taking aside marketing value from winning), the ‘business’ of the mercedes team is more poorly run than the low/mid field teams just scraping by.

    1. That is the cost if winning both championships. Arguably the rest of the teams are wasting their combined budgets ~£1billion, as they all lost. Makes Mercs losses look frugal.

    2. How long can Merc survive like this? Will the corporate headquarters look at this as necessary expense?

    3. Seventy million is barely a rounding error in the Great Ledger of Mercedes. Their global marketing budget must run to hundreds of millions anyway, and F1 will be a part of that. The F1 team is almost certainly not expected to make any money. It’s probably not even expected to cover its costs.

      At some point the board will direct cash elsewhere and cut the budget, and Merc will rejoin the pack. Perhaps they will do what they did in the 30s and 50s – utterly dominate for a few years then retire completely – it is a strong way to market their brand.

      1. @rsp123 Neither retirements didn’t have to do with wars and deaths though.

        1. @davidnotcoulthard Pretty sure that Mercedes quit in 1955 because of the Le Mans disaster? Else who knows, they might have dominated F1 until the 1.5L era in 1961.

          1. Edit: Context fail!

    4. @ Andrew Moore

      But this is exactly the point. You cannnot single out the loss in one business unit, when this in fact is not a loss but an investment to increase turnover at selling cars at another business unit of the same firm, and this way producing a profit in total. So they run everything but poorly.

    5. Every single reply was naive. First they had more expenses due to building new engines etc and the money they received were from the previous year they weren’t winning etc. Their loss would be a lot smaller this year.

  8. re Hulkenberg’s idea of reduced practice – maybe from the mid field it makes sense and he may think it presents opportunities to move up the grid when others falter. But for the front runners trying to dial in their cars over the weekend? For as often as not a chance.

    I wonder if he thinks they should cut the races in half as well.

    The whole idea just seems off – it’d be reducing F1 to GP2 levels – blink and it’s all over.

    1. You could have two 90 minute practice sessions — one Friday and one Saturday. There’s still enough there that if you have an issue on one day, you’re not dead in the water, but there is enough that you can have some unpredictability. I’d rather not see a pole to flag victory every other week (especially if it’s always the same driver)

      1. @bplowry Why do you not want all competitors compete in their best form? Less drama sure, but I think F1 is a sport first, not entertainment show.

    2. It wasn’t thought out at all “P1 is a waste of time because the track hasn’t rubbered in” so canceling P1 is gonna fix that eh ?

    3. @uan, I think the idea has some merit. Suppose the very first session of the weekend is qualifying, that might create some more mixed-up grids. Having said that, I don’t think the effect would be that substantial. I think the teams that can afford to post a 76.9 million loss without blinking will be able to prepare their cars better in the factory and the simulator (some of the poorer teams do not even have a simulator!).

      That’s not all, though. You will want to broadcast qualifying, so you can’t hold it on Friday morning. Also, I feel the spectators at the circuit should be treated to plenty of track time of the F1 cars, so one qualifying session and the race is not enough.

      1. All sports practice as often as possible. Imagine football, rugby, athletics, cycling teams being told they could only practice a maximum of 4 x the duration of an event prior to the next event. Bolt being told he can only train for 1 mins before the next race?

        1. That is why F1 is not a sport, but a club.

    4. It is very funny how Hulkenberg says we should cut the practice times otherwise drivers who are having difficulties can catch up with “better” drivers. Then Perez says we shouldn’t cut the practice time as there is enough time for some long runs in P2, and quali runs in P3, and P1 is pretty much useless.

      They canon remove P1 and do extra testing at another time. It would be more expensive. This is they cheapest way to do extra tests.

    5. Last weekend there wasn’t enough runs for Ferrari. So they weren’t sure how to time their pit. Rosberg did a monster out lap and got ahead of Vettel. That probably was due to lack of testing. And it made the championship more boring.
      Apparently you can put Merc on track, it will go fastest out of the box, as long as it is not Singapore. Tests give others some idea on how to beat them when Merc drivers falter.

      1. It was obvious at the time that Ferrari were too slow to pit Vettel and got undercut, they’d already pitted Raikkonen confident he could get to the end.

    6. @uan

      But for the front runners trying to dial in their cars over the weekend?

      With the simulation tools they have at their disposal it wouldn’t hurt them at all.

      A team like Sauber, which doesn’t have a simulator, would struggle.

      1. @keithcollantine

        I forget them off the top of my head, but at least twice in the last handful of races, Vettel was dialed in at all on Friday, and it was only through the team did overnight that they were able to come strong.

        Simulations wouldn’t have helped Merc or Ferrari in a place like Malaysia, where the long runs of Ferrari in FP2 (and I believe the lack of them for Mercedes iirc) made a huge difference come Sunday.

        I’m reminded of my favorite saying, the difference between theory and reality is that in theory there is no difference, but in reality there is. Simulation tools are good, but they are theory and don’t track with how the track actually is on the day.

        1. @uan, ultimately, it is a situation where the two aspects need to compliment each other – whilst it is true that the simulation tools are not entirely perfect, at the same time data from testing can also produce misleading results if the processes of collecting and processing the data from testing is flawed. Being able to test on track may tell you what is happening, but not necessarily why something is happening on track.

          The 2014 Lotus is perhaps an example of that – whilst the Lotus team were able to acquire data from the track that indicated that there were issues with the diffuser stalling, at the same time the variability in track conditions meant that it was difficult for them to then resolve the issue of why the diffuser was stalling in the first place.

  9. @COTD:

    I tend to agree in being sceptical about the Renault-buyout happening. It´s taking much too long into a timeframe where next years cars should be in a major development phase, Maldonado´s PDSVA-sponsorship doesn´t fit to Renault´s Total-connection, and most of all: their approach doesn´t make sense. You can only gain positive PR from a works-outfit if that is fighting for championships, and to do that they´d have to be comfortable with throwing considerable amounts of money at it. Renault just doesn´t seem willing to do so, they underfunded their engine-compartment in recent years, they are discussing money with both the current Lotus owners and FOM when they should long be underway investing in technology, and there is a pay-driver who can´t be hired for any other reason than money and who doesn´t make any sense in a works-outfit at all.
    Also, their “letter of intent” was the weakest possible announcement they could provide on a day they had to make an announcement, and it ended on the memorable sentence Renault Group and Gravity will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transactionprovided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.

  10. I like Hulk’s suggestion. Puts the onus on drivers. But I would suggest one change :
    On Saturday, one practice for 60 mins followed by Qualifying.
    On Sunday, one practice for 90 mins followed by race.

    That way, teams will work on quali setups on Saturday, race setups on Sunday. Plus, tickets at circuits could get cheaper too as the race weekend is reduced by 1 day.

    1. On Sunday, one practice for 90 mins followed by race.

      And if someone crashes or has a technical problem in that session that they don’t have time to fix for the actual race… What does it add to the weekend then?

      Besides what about the support categories, we already have 3 races on Sunday morning before the F1 in GP3/GP2 & the Porsche supercup… I’d rather those RACES than some pointless Sunday morning F1 practice session.

  11. their “letter of intent” was the weakest possible announcement they could provide on a day they had to make an announcement

    Agree on your points, as well as your sentiment regarding their baffling (publicly announced) priorities. I felt like the main purpose of that letter was to keep crew going about their day to day jobs and hopefully finish out the season –with no expectation of ‘extras’ like meals during the race weekend. All the while it seems more likely that Renault would rather buy the team after it goes bust, if they’re still interested.

  12. FlyingLobster27
    3rd October 2015, 6:57

    I’d give the WTCC team time trials a chance.
    However, in F1, McLaren tried it once in Hungary with Hamilton and Alonso. It didn’t end well. XD

  13. I would like to see two practice sessions on Friday and then 3 qualifying races on sunday where every driver starts one race from the last third of the grid, one from the middle third and one from the front third of the grid (like in karting)

    That way every driver had the same average starting position and every driver hás to overtake competitors. The average finishing position on saturday determines the grid for sunday.

    1. Other gimmicks you want? More artificial competition?

      1. @zekeri: They need wet and dry qualis too, with sprinklers on the track. In order to guarantee a dry session all grands prix will now be held in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

    2. The track would have better grip at the last session so those in the front third would gave an unfair advantage.
      I’d suggest splitting points between race & quali, with top 10 quali starting at the back in reverse order I.e pole starts last. Even that would be gamed by the teams as quali 10th would have the best chance of winning the race, and most likely the most weekend points.

  14. I’m sorry but I can’t see what Jenson brings to F1 why everyone is so in awe of him staying.

    He’s not particularly quick over a single lap ( 1 pole since joining McLaren in 2010 and only one race whereby it was dry the entire race weekend Spa 2012) or a race distance. He seems to only excel when the track is in changing conditions. He’s always complaining of a lack of grip and everything else you can think of. If F1 was about who was more PR friendly, then fine, let him stay, but it’s about results and being able to lead a team. That’s something he has not been able to do his entire career ( Rubens and Anthony Davidson lead the development at Brawn)

    After winning 6 of the first 7 races in 09, he has been on a downfall spiral. Sure he got the better of Lewis in 2011, but Lewis that year seemed to have far more important things on his mind that year, normal service was resumed in 2012.

    Personally I think he’s blocking younger and more exciting talents like Vandorne from entering the sport. I don’t thing sentimentality should have a place in sport, especially when there’s so much at stake financially.

    1. You took my Words straight outta my mouth

    2. only 1 pole?
      hmm… I think he has found “inner peace” in McLaren

    3. Strange then that ex world champions,drivers and other F1 personnel reckon he’s one of the fastest drivers on the grid. Just because he hasn’t racked up poles etc like some drivers doesn’t mean he’s slow.I bet you think because you’re male you’d beat me around a track,you’d be in for a shock.

      1. Sonia, show me one article where anyone claims he is one of the fastest?

        I bet you think because you’re male you’d beat me around a track,you’d be in for a shock.

        Also, get off your high horse. That sentence is completely irrelevant.

    4. Shut it down. we have your comment of the day. Kgn11 laying down the hard truth.

      1. Truth has s/he sees it, i.e. an opinion.

    5. Button is an extremely expensive, although consistent, test driver. I would be happy to lose him, Massa and Raikkonen (despite really liking the latter). I can’t see what they’re bringing to the party that a new talent wouldn’t. The most exciting thing Button’s done recently is crash into the back of Maldonaldo (twice), imagine what would have been said if Hamilton had done that. There is very much a old club member ‘ passive aggressiveness’ about Button that we had with Webber. He said he wasn’t sure about staying, there must many other hungry, talented drivers out there who are sure, denied the opportunity by his ‘ bed blocking’

      1. Its not Button’s fault there aren’t many seats available in F1!

      2. @PeteA, well, Button was paired up against one of those ‘young and hungry’ drivers in the shape of Kevin Magnussen in 2014 and proceeded to demolish him pretty comprehensively. Equally, Massa has hardly been that uncompetitive against Bottas – the two have been relatively evenly matched, and Massa was actually ahead of Bottas in the WDC earlier this year.

        Whilst there should be opportunities for younger drivers, why should drivers like Button or Massa feel obliged to step aside and hand over a seat when they are still providing to be as competitive as some of the lauded younger drivers coming up through the ranks?

    6. @Kgn11

      He brings experience, racecraft and excitement. It is still better watching him and Alonso defending ruthlessly in a POS, than watching Maldonado crashing out every other race, or seeing young Magnussen making up the numbers. There are a lot of drivers on the grid that should never ever been there in the first place, but some ppl just cant see farther down the grid and say its the older drivers that need to go. I can’t see Ericcson, Merhi, Stevens, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, etc. ever reaching the level of skill that some older drivers have.

    7. digitalrurouni
      3rd October 2015, 17:41

      This +110000000

    8. Hamilton-Button in many ways is very similar to Ricciardo-Vergne, one electric in the dry with great overtaking skills, the other not the fastest on one lap but with better race pace and electric once the grip drops and smoothness is needed for changing and wet conditions.

    9. @kgn11 It is irrelevant that you can’t see what JB brings, as long as McLaren can. I suspect it is his experience that is an asset right now while they are lost with the car. No use bringing in a rookie to teach him the ropes when they don’t even have a car capable of doing that. JB is not ‘blocking’ anybody. He’s just seeing his career through. And right now that is with Mac by Mac’s wishes, and by contract. Surely you wouldn’t expect any driver to just step aside for fear of ‘blocking’ somebody? And Vandoorne et al would be better off in a car that wouldn’t be constantly interrupting their learning curve not to mention coloring them with a poor car that would not give them a chance to show anything but mediocrity.

  15. Is there any video footage of what the Ferrari mechanics did in Singapore to cause this upset?

  16. Although I agree that Nico’s arguments have validity, there’s an underlying issue which needs to be addressed. One of the biggest issues since the reduction in testing is the lack of track time that non-F1 drivers can get in F1 machinery. This has led to more experienced drivers having an advantage in securing F1 seats, because it’s more of a punt to choose a rookie driver for your team. I want to see more young drivers have the opportunity to drive F1 cars. If reducing practice time saves money which goes towards allowing inexperienced drivers to have an opportunity to drive cars in test sessions then I’m all for reducing practice time. However if practice is reduced without finding time in the schedule for alternate running, then I am not in favour.

  17. Yeah, well, I think its worse that it is deemed a disaster for one’s career if a driver doesn’t get into a team immediately. And the stupid points system by the FIA also helps making it harder, because if you don’t get in, you risk not being allegeable for a superlicence, even if you get a test drive with a few test days and maybe an FP1 here and there.

    Also compare a J. Aguersuari, who is burned out at an age the average student STARTS working. The current formula burns out drivers before they even fully grow up. Let FOM get the obligation to make the grids as full as possible to have more seats available! And then make the playing field more even so that most drivers can have a chance to show themselves.

  18. They should start the weekend with a little race. Team relay or something. Mixed relay. It’s a waste at the moment, all that driving and effort for so little entertainment, when all the cameras are there.

    1. @lockup

      Having the drivers have a short race in equal machinery on Friday might get some more people to watch. Of course that equal machinery could only be from an extinct manufacterer in order to not cause sponsoring issues, so a Reliant Robin would be the vehicle of choice.

      1. Or a reasonably priced car @crammond. There are so many possibilities, when you think about it.

    2. Given how most people are at work on Friday I doubt many would be able to watch a Friday race live & with Friday usually the lowest attended of the 3 days (As a result of people working on Fridays) I really don’t see the point in more gimmicks.

      Weekend schedule is fine as it is.

  19. @keithcollantine

    Sepang chief happy to share limelight with night race (The Straits Times)

    “We provided feedback to Formula One Management (FOM) that we are not in favour of back-to-back sequencing of our race.”

    The quote (taken out of context) and the title appear to disagree with each other. It wasn’t until I read the article that I learned it was the Singapore representative who said the above.

    1. Yes. It is confusing.

  20. If McHonda does not get a good Sponsor soon, they might sell Stoffel Vandoorne to Ferrari or Renault. Ferrari can race him in HAAS or Renault in their Team IFFF the “Letter of Intent” is converted to an actual deal. Win Win for McHonda whose car is not good for Stoffel and They get the money too.

    Agree with COTD, I work in the business Side of the world, LOIs are always an uncomfortable alternate when someone cannot reach an agreement on the deal or if the deal is going other way. Lets Wait and Watch !!!

  21. Ron spent a lot of resources on young driver program and now its best two outcomes, Magnussen and Vandorne, are just sitting there waiting for something to happen. I even read that Stoffel was offered a seat by Toro Rosso in 2014, before they signed Kvyat, but he refused because of Ron’s promises. This is shameful. This category should be the top of motorsport but it is slowly becoming its biggest shame. Something has to be done.

  22. The worst scenario: Stoffel goes to Indy (road/street course only)/Super Formula.

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