Button certain of big gains from McLaren in 2016

F1 Fanatic Round-up

Posted on

| Written by

In the round-up: Jenson Button says he is sure McLaren will make strides with its problematic Honda power unit over the winter.

F1 Fanatic Live this weekend

With the World Endurance Championship, GP2 and GP3 in action plus the Macau Grand Prix, we’ve got six F1 Fanatic Live sessions coming up this weekend. Note the action in Bahrain starts with two races today. UK television coverage details are as follows:

Date Race Channel Coverage starts Race starts
Friday 20th GP3 race one live Sky Sports F1 10:15 10:25
Friday 20th GP2 feature race live Sky Sports F1 12:25 12:35
Saturday 21st GP3 race two live Sky Sports F1 5:55 6:05
Saturday 21st GP2 sprint race live Sky Sports F1 7:40 7:50
Saturday 21st WEC Six Hours of Bahrain live Motors TV 11:30 12:00
Saturday 21st WEC Six Hours of Bahrain live (final hour) Eurosport 17:00 12:00
Sunday 22nd Macau Formula Three Grand Prix final live BT Sport 1 7:15 7:30


Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Formula E circuit

This is the track configuration Formula E will use for its first race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City next year.


London tube with friends @grosjeanromain @pechito37 #DC

A photo posted by Felipe Massa (@massafelipe19) on

Comment of the day

Have teams mastered Pirelli’s ‘designed to degrade’ tyres to the extent that they no longer produce exciting races?

The tyres are basically a solved problem. Teams have adapted – as they always do – to the paradigm of the day. They manage the pace and the stint length much more carefully than when they first had Pirellis.

When they made them do a whole race on one set it provided really interesting races for two-thirds of a season and then they adapted and the racing got duller again, so it’s no surprise that the Pirelli tyres no longer generate much interest.

You need to continually change things to keep F1 teams off balance otherwise it’s just a question of how long it takes to optimise to the best solution.
Robert McKay

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Mark Young and Drew!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Formula One’s only race at Riverside in California was held 55 years ago today. The United States Grand Prix was won by Stirling Moss won for Lotus in a race Ferrari declined to attend – a reversal of the situation in the previous round at Monza where Ferrari raced but the British teams stayed away, claiming the banked circuit was too dangerous.

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

58 comments on “Button certain of big gains from McLaren in 2016”

  1. And to think that just months ago Renault rejected adopting Illien’s prototype upgrades, thinking that their upgrade (now demonstrated to be an abject failure) was the preferable path.


    Now they want his help. Words fail me.

    1. I understood CA to say “Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe everything, maybe nothing”. Next career choice, politician.

      1. Yeah, pretty much that @hohum. Its also possible that Renault did not want to take the “solution” offered by Red Bull earlier because it was coupled with giving them part of the IP rights on the engine @tdog. Or just that they first wanted to try their solution.

        And amidst all those reports that the Renault engine in the back of Ricciardo’s car was aktually down on HP compared to the old one in Kvyats car, I am pretty sure that a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was running without the Turbo unit that was supposed to go with it (because that could not fit the car and the current exhaust system), apart from possibly not having been finetuned yet.

  2. What happened is really, really strange.

    Did the car’s On Board Camera have Infra-Red capability? If so, was it working at the time the reading was taken?

    1. The infrared camera would only be able to show the surface temperature of the tire. When the race car goes around the track the surface temperature of the tire changes all the time. In corners the surface temps are higher, on straights lower. The inside temperature of the tire is more stable and the gas temp maybe even more stable. For tire operation the inside tire temps are really what counts. And pressures of course.

      So when the tires come out from the blankets I’d imagine it is possible that for a short time the surface temps were too high without the tire inner temps or gas pressures being too high. That being said I have no idea how the tire temps are measured but it seems there are something like 4 different measurements taken at various points.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        20th November 2015, 5:49

        The FIA procedure states that it measures only the surface temperature at a certain time before the start with a calibrated thermometer (infra red ‘gun’). At the same time they measure the tyre pressure.

        This of course opens a whole new way of ‘cheating’, as a smart team can manage a 110 C outside temperature (via the blankets) whilst heating up the inside via the brakes/wheels (and thus temporarily increasing the tyre temperature). Rubber is known to be one of the slowest heat transfer materials.

        1. Mercedes has been heating their wheels before race starts to achieve this. Can’t remember where I read it but a reputable source, was either Buxton or motorsportmagazine.com. Sneaky sneaky….. :-)

        2. ColdFly F1 (@)
          20th November 2015, 10:00

          (and thus temporarily increasing the tyre temperature)

          I wanted to say “(and thus temporarily increasing the tyre pressure)”
          Thus making sure the pressure is above the limit set by ‘the official tyre partner’ before the start. Then allowing it fall to their desired pressure level when the air cools down to the normal race temperature (e.g. 110C).
          Complex – but certainly not beyond the capabilities of an F1 team.

  3. If I had the chance to meet those guys on the tube I promise I would never again say the London commute is miserable.

    1. I know @lubhz! Sports stars never seem to be around when I take public transport

      1. I bumped into Alex Lynn in Marylebone station a few weeks ago, he was sprinting up the escalator in true race driver fashion.

  4. Red Bull have got to look a very attractive option for Honda. At present Honda as well as completely footing the bill for power units is also injecting money into McLaren’s budget. Add to that even with low stakes McLaren have made a few sloppy operational errors in races this year, 2 drivers winding down their careers, some really media unfriendly management (I’m still chuckling at David Coulthard comment about them not needing media coverage while they’re ‘winning so much’) and several years of throwing away championships even with top engines, chassis and drivers leaves me unconvinced even if the power unit comes good that McLaren will achieve much with it.

    The prospect of Red Bull as a paying customer, with a chassis demonstrably up their with the best in the field, a catalogue of massive driving talent, perhaps the best run operation both at headquarters and on track and a completely media-centric ideology then so long as it’s agreed beforehand no airing laundry in public like has happened with Renault I can only imagine Ron must have secured an airtight veto on supplying other teams for Honda not to be snapping their hands off for the option to provide them.

    1. i think in the consecuences of an Honda RBR deal: the death of McLaren: with sponsors running away (this year they even lost TagHeuer!) imagine what could happen if RBR produces -not a surprise- a excellent chassis, and if Honda imrpoves a little their performance (a little bit more reliability, and the MGU MGK units working fine) even if down on power, they can be quite a match for Mercedes in some circuits, as the team showed last season. If that’s ment to happen, then McLaren will collapse, going further down the championship standings, with dwindling sponsorship, less tv money income, they run the risk of becoming a Lotus from a couple of years now, but i don’t think that no manufacturer will want to buy McLaren, as they’re in the road cars business aswell. pretty cloudy future for McLaren if they don’t get their act together…

      1. I’m biased, obviously, but RBR created it’s 4 winning cars with designers and engineers poached from McLaren, like Podromou and of course Newey. Mercedes did the same thing, taking Paddy Lowe and co, constantly leaving a void. But with some of the top crew now returning and having had a year to work on the designs, things are looking good. Honda is investing heavily in McLaren because they know they can deliver. A large proportion of F1 innovation started with McLaren, from tire warmers to the F-duct/DRS. Yes, they lost several championships over the last decade, but still, there’s no reason they can’t bring it to the table. McLaren isn’t under threat, it just needs to be revitalized. With $100m coming from Honda and more from their heritage payments McLaren don’t need sponsorship, and they have lost sponsors simply because they refused to lower the fees.

        1. They refused to lower sponsor fees after their 2013 dip in form. When that dip became a slump in 2014 they still held firm. Now in 2015 with it starting to look like a trend the sponsors just aren’t interested.

          If next year turns to full on decline I think the days of McLaren being a front runner are numbered. Williams used to be the top dog. And was still promising when they had BMW. But long enough away from the top and you forget how to get back. As nice as it’s been to see Williams have a return to form, they’re not winning another championship again.

          I can see McLaren ending up like Williams. A good second tier team. Not every team has the allure of Ferrari where even when they’re off form there is something special about them that gives hope for a return.

        2. Seems to me that Newey was poached from Williams by McLaren back in 1996. (If “poached” is the correct wording)
          You offer someone more money and more control, they will probably take it. This is what happened when he left Williams as Patrick Head was the Engineer in charge with no room for Newey to take control. Similar to this, Red Bull offered more money and control and so he left McLaren. It’s just business, Engineers generally aren’t die hard fans toward the team employing them for their entire life.

      2. @matiascasali, the thing is, in reality the migration of TAG-Heuer is a bit misleading given it doesn’t have any net commercial impact on McLaren.

        TAG-Heuer is a sub brand of the LVMH conglomerate, as is Chiron, the company whom McLaren recently signed a sponsorship deal with. In effect, all that has happened is LVMH has switched one name for another, so McLaren is still getting the same amount of sponsor revenue from LVMH as they were in the past.

  5. The more I hear these constant reassurances from Jenson and Fernando, the more I worry.

    I hope I’m wrong, but i doubt McLaren and Honda will find the 2.5 seconds they seem to be harping about. It’s a big ask, unless they’ve really hit all their marks, it is pretty inconceivable.

    The best we can hope is for them to finish in the lower reaches of the points regularly and making it to Q3 every now and again.

    1. I think they will. They know the problem, but can’t fix due to the regulation. Their cornering speed is already on par with the top cars, bar Mercedes. It’s only straight line that suffers. Fix that, you get 2secs a lap, easy.

      1. Hmmm @selbbin, it’s obviously mainly an MGU-H and MGU-K issue. Why is it not possible to improve it during the season?

        1. The limitations on development rules, apparently.

          1. @selbbindo the other engine manufacturers have made changes under those required for @safety and reliability”. I wonder why they’ve not been able to improve in the same manner and also why their use of tokens hasn’t helped their deployment issues

      2. @selbbin It’s not as easy as just fixing the power unit. All the systems are tied in with the chassis and aero package. McLaren might have to completely abandon their size zero rear end to make it possible for a powerunit to live in their regardless of what Honda does to it.

        1. yeah, size zero hasn’t helped, but the mastermind behind the current Red Bull aero has had all year now to develop the MP4-31. He had little input in this one, so I’m assuming (hoping) that size zero is dropped to allow Honda more freedom. It probably already has been.

      3. They know the problem, but can’t fix due to the regulation.

        I dont think that’s true @selbbin. They had problems in 2013, but couldn’t fix them for 2014. They had the best engine and were still nowhere. The chassis this year don’t seem that impressive either, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have quite clearly a better chassis.

        The only thing they can do is hope they nail the 2017 regulations change.

        1. 2013 was just the wrong direction. They couldn’t get the simulator data and real world data to match. In the simulator they had a fantastic car.

          2014 was an improvement but they had totally new regulations so there was no way to carry the data. Like every other team. That car, like 2013, was from scratch. They also lost key personel in 2013 and had a huge shakeup. The road to ruin and back so far has made total sense for each season, except 2013 when they clearly just made a huge error. The problems are not the same ones.

    2. Part of the problem I see is Honda were given a “spec” that McLaren didn’t expect of their previous engine supplier, namely a very small space in which to house the engine. As I see it, one easy option is for McLaren to give Honda the same amount of space to use as they did Mercedes. In fact this is probably a necessity because if McLaren dump Honda at the end of 2016 and they didn’t give them the space the latest Merc engine needs, then McLaren’s new engine will almost certainly need a larger amount of space, so doesn’t that make it look like they set up Honda to fail?

      1. No because they didn’t just send a paper to Honda telling them “This is the space you have”. The whole thing was agreed with Honda. Together they decided to go that way.

  6. Could you imagine how fast an F1 car would be going around the Formula E version of Mexico??!?! Would love to see that!
    Also shows just how slow Formula E is

    1. Its slower yes but i think The racing is good

    2. Yes yes Formula E is slow. But so were the combustion engines in Grand Prix cars back in 1910… Give it time to develop. The current FE-cars have about 250 horsepower, comparable to Formula 3. The laptimes are slower, but that is because of downforce and tyres.

      1. Sorry, didn’t mean to sound a bit harsh

      2. Exactly right! Don’t forget the current F1 engines are restricted by virtue of fuel flow restrictions, so extra power is gained by increasing the engine’s efficiency. Battery technology is improving, and better batteries equates to more energy contained within, meaning more power available to the motor, and more power = more speed.

    3. Also shows just how slow Formula E is

      A series with 250hp motors, hard compound treaded road tyres, and little downforce, slower than F1? You don’t say!

  7. Regarding Allan McNish’s report on Verstappen and Sainz, he pointed out one key factor in the TR line up that I always was rather annoyed and angry about, and a point that I don’t think too many people would even consider, but if Vettel decided not to go to Ferrari, Sainz would never have been in Toro Rosso’s line up this year because of being completely overlooked in favour of Verstappen. Because if Vettel didn’t leave, Kvyat wouldn’t have been promoted to Red Bull and Sainz would’ve missed out on a full time seat once again (he technically missed out on a Toro Rosso seat for the 2014 season due to Kvyat winning the GP3 title and obviously beating Sainz in the process). And even if Vettel left and Red Bull decided to promote Vergne, Sainz still wouldn’t have gotten the seat at TR cause they couldn’t promote Kvyat. Still really annoys me today now that I think about.

    1. In an alternate history of Vettel staying at Red Bull for this year he would still be leaving for 2016 probably replacing Kimi. Alonso spurred on by this years form would have stayed at Ferrari for 2016 meaning Magnussen would have gotten another chance this year with the option of Vandoorne for next year and Kvyat or Verstappen would be promotoed to Red Bull for 2016.

      So for 2016 we may have had Alonso vs Vettel and Ricciardo vs Verstappen. If only Vettel had hung in there one more year.

      1. And if Vettel had decided to race horses instead Webber would have been a wdc, McLaren might be a top team with LewisH and MaxV, yada yada yada.

        1. @hohum McLaren would probably keep Max Verstappen as a reserve driver..

        2. Vettel would never have proven competitive in horse racing even though his weight and size is fine in F1 he would have been too heavy by jockey standards.

    2. @mattypf1 It could be worse. Sainz could have been a McLaren or Mercedes, or Ferrari or any other teams development driver and had absolutely no chance of a seat ever unless he brought along millions of dollars. RB have a massive amount of good drivers on their books and they actually do better than most at giving them a chance in F1. In this case, they made the right choice and dropped Verne, who was good, but nothing special and gave Sainz a chance.
      Got to give RB their dues here. They are pretty much the only team promoting good talent onto the grid.

      However, I think Sainz is very quick, but he only has one more year to prove it. If Verstappen beats him again next year, he will be gone for the next big hope. I know Sainz has had a lot of bad luck this year and on his day is better than Verstappen, however good luck follows good drivers. Sainz had blown a couple of good chances with mistakes. Verstappen has Monaco, but at least he was trying. I say that comment with the bit between my teeth as I probably half hoped Verstappen would fail and Sainz would beat him. It’s close, but Verstappen has the rub of the green and I think that will continue because he just continues to put himself in the right place. Heck that is why Ricciardo won races last year. Try hard and don’t make mistakes.

    3. In part I understand your annoyance with the lack of opportunities for talented young drivers to get a seat in F1. But why get so angry about Carlos Sainz almost missing out on F1? IMO he is one of the rather abundant bunch of talented drivers with F1 potention but a lack that something special (among them are drivers like Sam Bird, Joylon Palmer, Felipe Nasr, Esteban Gutierrez, etc.). You could take them or leave them but nobody would really miss them in F1 and they will go mostly unnoticed throughout the mayority of their stay. There are many other drivers that are worth getting angry about much more though: Vandoorne, Magnussen, Frijns to name a few.

      1. @vvans I don’t think Magnussen is that impressive, but surely Vandoorne and Frijns deserve a shot at F1.

        1. @paeschli On that note, Vandoorne just absolutely dominated the GP2 race in Bahrain, drawing level with Hamilton’s GP2 podiums per year record. Only his team-mate and Mitch Evans got within a second of his fastest lap. When McLaren promote him in 2017, I can see it being a 10 year anniversary repeat of Alonso-Hamilton..

  8. Thank You for the Birthday wishes KC and thank you for the outsanding effort running the site this year. The only place to go for F1 news, views, stats and banter.

    Can you imagine being on that tube ride? I’m a 39 year old man and would have soiled myself with excitement.

    1. Outstanding as well. No doubt you would also excel if you went out sanding.

    2. @terry-fabulous Thank you very much! And yes, as a regular tube-user myself there’s something really odd about seeing those familiar faces in that setting.

  9. I’m stunned and amazed that it’s taken till now for Renault to come up with the “we’ll do what it takes” statement when surely that should have been their attitude in February last year.

    I’m concerned that these new statements might just be smoke and mirrors – at this point of time there’s probably just as much chance that Carlos Ghosn will pull Renault out of F1 than continue the debacle.

    Commercially, I think they’ll find it difficult to justify continuing. All we can hope is that Mr Ghosn is a fan of F1 and that he’ll support (and insist) that they actually “do what it takes”.

    Wouldn’t like to be the person that has to explain to him how much they improved things with the 11 tokens that they took the entire season to develop. (And then ask him to sign off funding to continue).

    1. It’s weird because some people would be super thrilled to disbelief while others will have no idea who they are. It reminds me of the incident in Sydney this year, a few days after the melbourne GP Hamilton was in Sydney, and a photographer got photos of a couple asking Lewis to take a photo of them (not with them) with their camera, having no idea who he was.

  10. 1. Are Williams still appealing massas dsq?
    2. Hopefully the new ultrasoft tyre with mix the races up a bit!

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      20th November 2015, 10:07

      1. Are Williams still appealing massas dsq?

      Williams drops Massa appeal on cost grounds

    2. Hopefully the new ultrasoft tyre with mix the races up a bit!

      I don’t think we’ll see it outside of Q3.

      1. So it a qualy only tyre??? I’m under the impression it’s just another selection in the range, so it might be used in races… Monaco could have the super soft and ultrasoft tyres brought to it for example… @keithcollantine @raceprouk no?

        1. If there’s only two compounds, then I guess so. If there’s three though, then the ultra-soft would be Q3-only.

      2. with the rule on running both compounds during the race it will have to be used in races as well when it is in the allocation. cant see it being used too many other places than Monaco personally.

  11. What I wouldn’t give to see a transcript of some of the meetings between RBR and Renault over the past 2 years :) be a really interesting read.

    Sadly none of us will ever know what’s actually been said or promised by either party.

  12. In an addition to what was said in COTD, I agree that the tyres are a known factor, everyone knows they have to baby them through the race. it is true that a shake up can produce unpredictability, but it wasn’t long ago that I was praying for a bit of stability in the rules to allow those behind to catch up do that we could have closer racing. I would love the drivers to have tyres that they don’t have to manage anywhere near as much. I personally don’t think the tyres are the main problem anymore. I’m convinced that it had long since been aero, it’s just not been gotten on top of. As COTD yesterday mentioned, the unpredictability from the changes that DRS and Pirelli provided when they first came in, provided some new excitement that was essentially just a sticking plaster until the engineers got on top of it. But now it’s time to realise it is no longer working and that the main problem is that when a driver is behind another car, his handling is so badly affected. The priority has to be reducing the deficit behind another car, if this is done then the drivers are will have a greater chance of providing the unpredictability, and the gimmicks can be shelved once and for all

Comments are closed.