Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Baku City Circuit, 2016

Vandoorne alert to McLaren alternatives for 2017

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In the round-up: Stoffel Vandoorne is believes he will have alternatives to McLaren if he cannot get a race seat with the team next year.

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Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Silverstone test, 2016
Is the Halo ready to go?
@Robbie isn’t convinced by claims the Halo system is under-developed:

I just generally find comments such as ‘not well thought out’ and ‘rushed’ hard to fathom and an insult to those who are working hard on this issue and have to take all factors into consideration. Cost, appearance, function, safety issues like extracting an unconscious driver, viability in terms of how a device can change the face of F1 to some.

Personally once they implement this, I want to see along with what would then be ultra safe cars, much higher speeds in much more physically and therefore mentally taxing cars to drive, much more balanced toward mechanical grip so that we have gladiators out there again.

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  • 73 comments on “Vandoorne alert to McLaren alternatives for 2017”

    1. The kid got bit by the points bug. I’d love to see him in a Mclaren-Honda.

    2. the halos is the worst idea ever

      1. I’d suggest that magnesium-bodied cars were one, of many, much worse ideas I’ve seen in F1. I’m not a fan of the Halo, but it doesn’t even make it into the top ten worst ideas in F1.

        1. Agreed @beneboy
          I think John Surtees would agree too.

          1. That makes about zero sense. His son didn’t die in F1 and there is only talk of putting these ridicuolous devices on smaller categories. Bunch of pansies. Go watch a Motogp in the wet in Assen, you “How can we live without Halo!” lot. Be careful, you may likely have a heartattack. Oh the horror! The track is wet! and look, men on motorbikes not surrounded by some sort of impenetrable coccoon! I am calling health and safety and will complain to my MP at once!

            1. @ibrahim
              My grandfather raced motorcycles all of his life, including races such as the TT, and he welcomed every new safety device the engineers and designers came up with. He’d never allow us to get on a motorcycle without all of the safety gear available to us, even if we were just going on a quick ride to a friends house.
              Personally, I find your argument to be irrelevant, motorcycles will always be dangerous because of the instability of having only two wheels, that doesn’t stop racers from pushing for new safety features and technology, or for changes to track design, to help improve their chances of surviving an accident with the minimum risk of injury possible. And just because motorcycles are inherently dangerous, that doesn’t mean other types of motor sport should abandon the development of new systems and technologies to further improve safety standards.
              Mark and Valentino don’t go out in leather helmets, goggles, and old army jackets, they go out covered from head to toe in the very best safety gear available to them, and also work with companies to develop better gear in the hope that they won’t be adding to the mortality statistics of the sport.

            2. I think that the comment about Surtees was made in reference to the use of magnesium bodied cars, as Surtees knew from first hand experience how lethal they could be.

              Surtees quite famously refused to drive the Honda RA302, which made extensive use of magnesium bodywork panels, labelling the car a “deathtrap”. His prediction was sadly proven to be right when Jo Schlesser burned to death because, just as Surtees had feared, the bodywork caught fire and burned with incredible ferocity when Schlesser lost control of the rather ill handling car and crashed in the 1968 French GP.

            3. How many riders/drivers have we seen killed in the last few seasons? Did you forget about them?

            4. Anon comment makes a lot more sense than yours @ibrahim. What’s your point again?

        2. The halo isn’t a terrible idea, but it’s not a good idea.

          It’s a partial solution that won’t result in faster cars (sorry, COTD), because the FIA doesn’t have a master plan, and they don’t consider rule changes for safety as part of the overall arc of F1 performance / spectacle. In fact, as a rule, the FIA seems to consider each rule in isolation, without any consideration for the Big Picture.

          It was briefly mentioned last week (by Red Bull, I believe) that in some cases, such as Massa’s accident in Hungary, it could have actually made his accident worse by deflecting the spring downward, into his chest– even a few millimeters lower, and Massa would have lost an eye (at best).

          It’s not difficult to picture another car surfing onto the top of a halo, and the halo ripping the t-tray off the bottom of the car, and shoving it into the side of the driver’s helmet.

          I’m OK with a safety mechanism that improves safety in some cases, but not all– I’m NOT OK with a safety mechanism that under certain edge cases makes the driver more vulnerable.

          1. @grat The cars are already heading toward being faster without a halo, and my intention is only to say if they have even safer cars there is certainly no reason the cars can’t be faster just as they are already heading.

            As to certain scenarios like a spring deflecting and doing more damage, that is pure speculation coming from a group developing the unproven aero screen, and another group could just as easily argue the opposite, that the halo might have deflected the spring away, or at least taken some energy off it such that it would have been less harmful. Surfing over the top of the car and having the halo rip the t-tray off? At some point they have to weigh the likelihood of things happening and this one sounds like a stretch. They do know a driver being hit in the head by a flying tire has a stronger chance of happening and being lethal.

            So I don’t think there are very good odds that the halo would make drivers more vulnerable when you consider they have to keep focused on the main work it can do in saving a life here or there, by deflecting large objects from hitting a driver in the head.

      2. DRS. Goodnight.

        1. duncan idaho
          14th July 2016, 3:11

          Pay TV

          1. Running seven laps behind safety car.

            1. Paddock boys instead of girls

            2. At least no one will see it anymore when they ran the halo-fitted cars behind the safety car for seven laps once its on pay TV ;)

      3. Also to comment on the cotd. That halo is in f1 and fia terms a bodge job. The halo is undesirable and ungainly but it appears to be useful yet it isn’t unequivocally safer than what we are using these days, and that’s in my view the only argument that should be used in this case as safety should never be replaced by beauty.

    3. Looks like it’s now or never for McLaren to call up the guy up. They don’t have to look far to see that giving young talent and chance has huge benefits with Red Bull having struck gold with Vestappern and possibly Sainz while Mercedes’s youngster is getting some handy experience in the Manor.

      The problem is which of their two drivers, who have patiently waited to reap the rewards of this Honda project, are they willing to boot out. All three drivers have their positives and negatives but for me, Alonso and Vandoorne is the way to go. It’s not an easy choice to make though, but surely they can’t let a talent like Vandoorne slip through their fingers just to keep two drivers who are arguably reaching the end of their careers happy?

      1. It’s times like this the third car idea would have been nice.

        Button would be a good fit for the new design, as he is a better development driver than Alonso. Alonso is more aggressive and in a car that’s almost able to win, will make it win.

        Vandoorne, however, is the future, and while the other two wanted a chance to win a championship with Honda, the reality has become that by the time the car is up to the competition he’ll be the one benefiting, not Alonso or Button.

        Also, Mclaren history has shown that Button works with competitive younger drivers better than Alonso.

        So I’m glad it’s not my choice. But I think Button will be set aside as a development driver with Alonso / Vandoorne on the grid.

        1. duncan idaho
          14th July 2016, 3:25

          Hmm, seems like Alonso got more out of Hamilton than Button did.

          1. Hamilton didn’t win a championship with either.

            1. duncan idaho
              14th July 2016, 5:27

              So Nico’s the best?

            2. ColdFly F1 (@)
              14th July 2016, 7:04

              Heikki Kovalainen!

        2. @selbbin Never heard of a world champion used as a development driver. I think Button will go to WEC instead.

          1. Didn’t Schumacher do a few developmental tests for Ferrari after his first retirement?

          2. spafrancorchamps
            14th July 2016, 12:37

            Casey Stoner?

          3. I thought one of the reasons Ferrari wanted Alonso originally is that his skills at developing a car were worth 0.3 seconds a lap?

      2. @davef1 For an established and historical team like McLaren, they never have the now or never time to call someone up. Even if Vandoorne doesn’t get his debut with them and he become WDC later, no doubt he will gladly drive for McLaren again later in his career. Heck look at Alonso, arguably the worst driver McLaren part ways with, and with 8 years later he’s back.

        And while getting good young driver is important, top teams don’t really need to do it because they can just “poach” them. Look at the career of Schumacher, Raikkonen, Alonso, and Vettel.

        1. @sonicslv

          I partly disagree. Of course McLaren persuade back from another team at a later year but at the same time they will look like right mugs if he goes off to another team and wins a championship, more so if he’s competing with the McLaren drivers for it. To me it just seems illogical, especially when you look at what they achieved by promoting Hamilton, Vestappern etc. Of course McLaren don’t have the liberty of a second team like Red Bull and Vandoorne could end being a flop but if McLaren are desperate to hang on to him, it’s because they must see something.

          Poaching WDCs isn’t always the way to go either, their current two WDCs that they poached, haven’t really delivered (not counting the last 2 years obviously). Button’s had 1 really good season at McLaren, while Alonso was partly responsible for one of the biggest implosions in F1 history.

          1. @davef1 Hamilton and Verstappen (also before them is Raikkonen and Schumacher) is special case when a rookie is a genius that can compete with the best right away – and you can see them coming miles away, without sacrificing a seat on your top team. Even Alonso, Vettel, Ricciardo, Sainz is not worthy to debut on top team IMO. Look at Magnussen, which do okay for F1 driver but certainly underperformed for his hype level and still not doing anything special now in Renault. It’s like playing jackpot, you can win really big, but it’s foolish to make/expect that as your source of income.

            As for poaching WDC’s, it’s the most stable and safest route. Button actually has 3 good season in McLaren when they still win races, and he delivered performance that equaling Hamilton’s. Also McLaren now have the best proven drivers, and I bet teams like Williams, Force India, or even STR will gladly exchange their drivers lineup for McLaren’s if possible (salary cost aside). Instead booting either Alonso or Button, McLaren can do better with buying Vandoorne a seat in Sauber/Haas/Marussia. See if he really worth it first, and let Alonso or Button retire when they want. Most likely next year we’ll have a new name that people say should get into F1 and Alonso/Button/Raikkonen/Massa should retire instead.

      1. Copyright FOM – so they blocked it

    4. A more level playing field, as long as the increased finances actually result in better performance, then I’m all for it. Give them some extra money, but let’s put a decade cap on it or something. If they can’t all finish on the lead lap by then with the extra funds, then just cull the bottom 5 and go with 3 car teams.

      1. 3 car teams would be a simply awful idea.

        You would effectively kill the mid-field as everyone outside of mercedes, ferrari & red bull are going to be pushed outside the top 10, out of the points & likely getting a lot less tv time which costs them sponsors.

        additionally in an era of dominance like we have with mercedes we would be getting podium lock outs by 1 team with championships decided far sooner & we woudl almost certainly see a lot more team orders.

        3rd cars would likely also be used tactically to take points off rivals from other teams, You already see this sort of thing in other categories that have 3+ cars teams (WTCC & DTM for example).

        it would also raise cost’s significantly as you need more cars, equipment & crew to run it as well as all additional spares & could just end up with us seeing more pay drivers who woudl be able to afford to help fund a 3rd car.

        3rd cars would do nothing but make f1 a lot less competitive with less opportunities for young drivers that are not part of one of the top teams young driver programs. And it woudl be bad for the young drivers on the level that there would be no option to come in with a small team & spend time learning without much pressure on them. Someone like Wherlien coming into the factory mercedes with all the pressure that comes with it may not help that driver learn & improve.

        Look at Perez for an example, He wasn’t ready for a top team when he was at Mclaren in 2013 & that very nearly ended his F1 career. Its been going to a smaller, mid-field team like Force India with no pressure on him that allowed him to regain his confidence & his performance has improved thanks to that. If we had 3 cars teams he likely would have not been able to do what he has at Force India & would have been left outside of F1 or in no better situation as he was at McLaren.

        1. Well none of your comment tackles a closer playing field… What I’m saying is let’s give this teams more money, which should improve their performance, but *if* it doesn’t work, and their performance *doesn’t* actually improve (within a decade i think is more than fair) then they have no excuse and I think 3 cars would be better by then, even with its downsides.

          Something has to be done to prevent the never ending blue flags a third into every race.

          1. Stop waving them. Racers should be able to pass slow cars.

            1. @verstappen Yeah, some will remember the likes of Grouillard of Arnoux in his late years. Nightmares to overtake but at least it was not fabricated.

          2. ColdFly F1 (@)
            14th July 2016, 7:09

            Teammates get lapped as well; 3rd car won’t stop blue flags.

            Keep it simple: fair distribution of F1 revenue; look at PL for pointers.

          3. Having more money won’t necessarily mean the smaller teams would suddenly be more competitive & that we could do away with blue flags. Toyota for example had the biggest budget of all the teams when they were in F1 & they spent most of there time in the mid-field & had blue flags waved at there drivers more than a few times.
            Honda also had a sizable budget & look at there last 2 years in F1, Stuck towards the back getting lapped every weekend.

            F1 has never & will never have a ‘closer’ playing field, There will always be those at the front, Those in the middle & those at the back. Even when the field was closer a few years back you still had cars getting lapped once or more, You still had cars that had no chance of scoring points let alone getting near the podium & as i’ve mentioned already that included teams with massive budgets.

    5. Disagree with the COTD. Its not the being questioned whether those working on the halo are working hard or not, or even their intelligence or insight into a problem which is of course far beyond the average F1 fan. What is being questioned by the “rushed” and “not well thought out”, in my view, refers to the lack of time to implement the solution. Indeed, there may be other solutions which better take into account all the variables that the COTD suggests but do it better than the halo. However, you can’t test these or the halo to the level required for certainty and still implement it by 2017.

      1. Not to mention, it’s going to be welded steel, not carbon fiber…

        So the ‘back of the thong’/’top of the flip flop’ part likely won’t be very graceful.

        1. Halo 2 was originally meant to be titanium. So if they’ve gone back to welded steel (which by this point I could believe the FIA doing), then we’re already on Halo 3, and it’s Halo 2 that got mandated by the FIA for 2017. This really isn’t reassuring me…

          1. @alianora-la-canta, I wouldn’t necessarily be concerned about the switch from titanium to steel alloys – there are a number of high grade steel alloys which have a higher ultimate tensile strength than titanium, as well as having a higher Young’s Modulus.

            It is plausible, depending on the stress distribution through the halo when subjected to certain loads, that the higher yield strength and stiffness of a steel alloy could result in a structure which is slightly lighter or can be made thinner in certain areas.

      2. @keithcollantine Thanks for the cotd.

        @mog Again though, you sound reassured that the experts are likely doing a good job, and I suggest they have taken the time over many more years than we likely think, possibly even going back to Senna’s death, so how much more time, and what better options, without changing the cars drastically, would be enough? If their may be better solutions, then those are what we would now be seeing being tested, but we are seeing halos.

        1. We also saw the aero screen, which was another idea, albeit imperfect as also the halo seems to be.

          You may be right about the development timeline, although it seems Bianchi and wilson deaths
          precipitated a quicker implementation of abstract ideas that otherwise would have happened.

          Also, the halo seems to be a compromise, and understandably because of the difficulty involved in getting the teams to agree as well as trying to keep f1 open cockpit.

          So how much more time is needed. Well, enough so it can be done properly.

    6. Something I’ve been told regarding the halo that i don’t believe has been discussed much (If at all) is that the mechanic that does the drivers belt’s up has a far more difficult time doing that with the halo as he can’t properly get his head in to see what he’s doing so has to rely solely on feel.

      I was also told that the drivers that have tested it so far have all had a hard time getting themselves out of the car when its safely parked in the pit garage & that if there is something like a hybrid battery fault that requires a driver quickly jump out of the car its going to be a lot more difficult to do than it currently is.

      There is a feeling that ideally the halo needs to be hinged to allow the driver to ‘open’ it for faster extraction but that they can’t do that because it would affect the structural rigidity of the device by creating an area that may be more susceptible to failure.

      Something that is apparently a growing concern is visibility on circuits that have a lot of undulation. At Barcelona when Ferrari 1st tested it both drivers had no issues with visibility, However at Silverstone they found that there were places such as through Maggotts/Beckets where the track dips & rises where visibility was more of an issue & I know that they have even more concerns about places like Eau Rouge where the halo may obstruct drivers vision through the corner as there towards the bottom of the hill trying to look up the rise to the next apex.

      It seems that the more practical testing they do with the halo the more issues there finding & that is why you are starting to hear more call’s to delay its introduction from teams.

      1. Recently there were studies done to show where an F1 driver’s vision was focused as he drove a track. I would love to see that repeated with the HALO in place, and see how much a hindrance/distraction it is.

      2. @gt-racer Not for argument but for discussion, as I think you are more in tune with racing than most around here including myself, but I would think a little more struggle to strap in a driver is a non-issue.

        I’d be shocked they’re even trying the halo out if indeed the drivers struggle to get themselves out, even in calm circumstances. I’m wondering if that is a bit of over-reaction by a few people and that in fact it might take a few more seconds but not so much more time that the risks from that outweigh the risks from being hit by a large object.

        As to hinging, I wouldn’t think that would be necessary. To my thinking either the drivers will still have to be able to get out quickly enough, or they don’t do it at all.
        But the worst case scenario of a car on it’s lid and a driver unconscious, would negate a hinge’s function anyway.

        Visibility with higher contour tracks has been brought up for certain tracks, but I would think that can be solved with a bit of re-shaping. Some drivers have said it’s not a problem, others have, but again, some minor reshaping then should do it, no?

        I know I sound like I’m trying to sell the idea of halos, but I’m truly indifferent. I just don’t like the commentary sometimes that make the designers and engineers of this concept sound like bumbling fools. Let’s leave those accusations to the ones running the show, not the scientists playing within it.

    7. The problem with talking about the halo, is if you aren’t an active part of an F1 team, or part of the FIA, or somebody developing this, the reality is that none of us really have a clue what we are talking about. If a driver who has tested it says that it’s not ready, then the chances are it isn’t ready. If the developers say it’s the safest thing, then it’s possibly as safe as they can make it at the moment.

      Obviously within the F1 business there are divisions of opinion, but every single one is justified, for both sides of the argument. All we can see is pictures from a few angles. We don’t have simulations, we don’t the strengths and weaknesses, in reality we know nothing.

      1. very true

      2. I don’t entirely disagree but also believe that things like this don’t just appear on cars without a lot of deliberation. So I don’t think we know nothing. I think we know that they have come this far and this is their thinking. A halo hints at their thinking of a device that won’t change the face of F1 as we know it, won’t change the aero, won’t fog, won’t need cleaning, allows access to drivers, and allows us to still see the drivers. We also know that a canopy has pretty much been explained away as causing more problems than it would solve, by not allowing the things I’ve just mentioned a few sentences ago.

    8. Thanks Keith for giving my forum thread a mention, will be intriguing to here what people have to say.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        14th July 2016, 7:20

        Logitech G29 – I’ve had it 10yrs, great quality; simply perfect. @macca
        The only bit missing is a racing seat.

        1. Nice time machine you have there :) shouldn’t that be 1 year ?

          1. I thought the same, although the design is basically the same between G25/27/29.

    9. ColdFly F1 (@)
      14th July 2016, 7:17

      I said it jokingly yesterday, but a hinged halo might not even be such a bad idea!

    10. I am not saying that developing a cockpit protection system for F1 cars is an easy task. However, a lot of things have been implemented in F1 without enough consideration. The elimination-style qualifying format was just one example. Also, obvious safety flaws have often been ignored (what prevented the FIA from coming up with the virtual safety car before Bianchi’s accident?). There is no reason to believe that the authorities in F1 always ‘work hard’ before giving green light to something.

      As for the second part of the COTD, introduction of halo addresses only one, albeit very important, safety aspect. It does not mean that F1 cars will be 100% safe and you will be able to do whatever you want with them. What is more, safety is not the only thing that has to be taken into consideration here. If the cars are fast and challenging but the races are predictable and actionless, then no one will watch them, except for me, Keith and a few other lun…, sorry, fanatics. That said, I also believe that F1 should be the world’s most demanding class of single-seater racing.

      1. The virtual safety car’s delayed arrival may have been due to “not invented here” syndrome – it had been used in Le Mans and WEC for 18 months before F1 implemented it.

      2. @girts Fair comment but I don’t think you can compare elimination qualifying, or the decision to use virtual safety cars or not, to adding a piece of safety equipment to all the cars. Some concepts can literally be brought in with the snap of the fingers while others that require a physical piece of equipment must be built and tested.

        I have not suggested the halo makes the cars 100% safe…nothing ever will. But given that there is a strong camp that is saying the cars are already safe enough without a halo type of device, and the cars are about to become faster, then surely with a halo the cars would be even safer. This is why I feel comfortable in suggesting the cars, especially with halos, should then be made much more of a handful for the drivers and with the wider cars and fatter tires they can now pursue the closer racing that we have been yearning for, through a greater ratio of mechanical to aero grip.

        1. @Robbie Good points. Let us hope that this safety improvement indeed results in closer racing and higher GP ratings on F1F!

    11. McLaren have been the driving force behind Vandoorne his career and I appreciate everything they have done for my countryman but in the same way they have also been killing it.

      At the end of 2013 Vandoorne was ready, that year he had almost won the FR3,5 title from Magnussen who had a season of experience where the Belgian had none in the category. So 2014 is understandable, they choose Magnussen.

      At the end of 2014 when he destroyed Nasr and let’s be honest Palmer too in GP2 he was ready too. They should not have chosen Alonso over their own rookie at that point. I would have found it even more logical to continue with Magnussen.

      At the end of 2015 when Vandoorne took a sunday walk to the GP2 title he was more than ready for F1. Yet Ron decided to keep his line-up of Button and Alonso. Paying two ex world champions a total of 32 million euro surely is worth it when the car isn’t even capable of consistent points finishes.

      At the end of 2016 Vandoorne will have been ready for 3 years, 3 years where he could’ve gained valuable experience to be ready for 2017 where the new regluation changes will provide a new opportunity for McLaren to be on top. If McLaren do not give Vandoorne a seat for 2017 I better hope they don’t hold him back with fake promises and kill Belgians shot at a world champion.

      If so I’ll have no other choice to pay a visit to the MTC and give Ron a physical Ronspeak…

      1. I agree Vandoorne needs a seat in F1 his junior career achievements point to a lot of potential and it would have been great to see him in F1 at 22/23 yrs old. He crushed the field in GP2 last year.

        I hope McLaren go with Vandoorne / Alonso line up and we see Button at Williams in place of Massa, that would give a much better view of Bottas’s pace as well.

        I can see Renault dropping Palmer unless he dramatically improves, Ocon could be a runner for that drive although I would be surprised if Haryanto is around for 2017 in the Manor.

        1. I would be surprised if Manor dump a pay driver (Haryanto) for a potentially even more rubbish pay driver (Palmer).

          1. Palmer did win gp2 so i think he is better than Rio but palmer is not making an impact this year.

            Haryanto replacement could be Sirotkin, King (because of his dad), Rowland, Giovanizzi and more.

            Gp2 has alot of talent this season

            1. I don’t expect Palmer to see a second year in F1, unless he delivers a much stronger second half of the season. I always enjoyed watching him race in GP2, but that Renault chassis is a dog this year.

    12. I’ve said it elsewhere and i’ll say it again, if Mclaren do not sign Vandoorne for 2017, i’ll believe Helmut Marco will be quick to sign him up himself and put him in a Toro Rosso alongside Sainz. Mclaren has first pick, but if they ignore Vandoorne, he is a free man.

      1. Very good point

    13. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      14th July 2016, 12:00

      Asking whether Vandoorne should replace Button is akin to asking whether Red Bull were right to replace Vergne with Verstappen. Here’s why:

    14. The idea of Lynn for Massa, Vandoorne for Button, Ocon for Palmer, Leclerc for Gutierrez and Gasly for Kvyat (or Kvyat moved on to another team to replace someone meh) excites me very much. Think Verstappen has shown that age is no limit and whilst none of these is Verstappen level (I think, but they may well be) they are more exciting than the guys they’d be replacing. Make it happen.

    15. If anything… McLaren-Honda should do a “Red Bull” and get Button to their Japan team.. meanwhile promoting fasty Vandoorne up to F1. He is the most domminant GP2 driver since what Lewis Hamilton?

      It just seems silly, they put them on “gardening” leave in Japan…. If I was Red Bull, I would kick Kvyat and get this guy this year.. and next year if he proves himself send him to RBR, alongside Verstappen if he continues to outperform Riciardo.

      And if not Red Bull, Teams like Force India, Williams, Manor, Sauber, Haas should try to sign him asap.

      In world of performance driven F1, there should be space for driver, who can bring out more from the package.

    16. On the radio subject I would say that as everything in life it’s a matter of yes or no. I think many predicted that the radio ban was just over regulating f1 and unclear. I believe it is now clear to everyone that nothing should have been done on the matter.

    17. So.. Stoffel maybe replacing Massa?

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