McLaren, Yas Marina, 2016

McLaren ‘would’ve won races with top engine’

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: McLaren would’ve been race-winners in 2016 had they been using the best engine, according to Eric Boullier.

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Comment of the day

PeterG is not impressed by calls to equalise engine performance:

They should never even think about engine equalisation or any other such nonsense.

Everyone should be left to do the best they can withing the regulations and if somebody does a better job than the rest then it should be left up to the others to catch up rather than the team that found the advantage been held back. If the other manufacturer’s/team’s are unable to find the gains to match or beat them then tough luck.

The F1 Fanatic round-up will return on December 27th. Until then happy birthday to Andrew, Richpea, Wasif1, Willian Ceolin and Alex Tunnicliffe for the 24th, Louise.1987 for the 25th and Michael S for the 26th.

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On this day in F1

December 24th: Seventies F1 racer Howden Ganley is 75 today.

December 25th: Giancarlo Baghetti, the only F1 driver to win the first F1 race he started (aside from the inaugural round of the world championship), was born on this day in 1934.

December 26th: On this day 55 years ago Jim Clark won the non-championship South African Grand Prix on the East London circuit.

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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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66 comments on “McLaren ‘would’ve won races with top engine’”

  1. “Baghetti”, what a name! Sort of like a mixture of bagettue and spaghetti :)

    It’s good that McLaren have confidence in their chassis, but will it be any good next year? 2009 and 2014 show that McLaren don’t have a good track record of hitting new regulations on the head. They’re not bad at catch-up but that’s not what they need right now. Also, there’s no doubt that Ferrari (and Red Bull) would have won (a few more) races with the best engine. Sadly, though, that simply doesn’t change the fact that they aren’t doing well at the moment.

  2. If we had a better power unit, better aerodynamics, more sponsorship money and better drivers we could win races. If…If…If…

    1. @wesley I mean, I could have been a championship-winning F1 driver if I raced carts when younger, got sponsored by a big brand, and ended up driving the best car with the best power unit…

      1. your name is Lewis?

  3. That wasn’t a dig at McLaren exactly, just excuse makers in general.

  4. If only there were points for GPS traces …

    It’d be fantastic if Alonso could be in scraps with Hamilton and the like, but maybe someone can tell McLaren that it’s almost 2017. The V6 Turbo engines aren’t new any more. Do a better job!

  5. Didn’t McLaren have a Merc engine in 2014? And what happened…..they got beat by Williams.

    1. They had a Merc engine, but were running far from optimal due to not having all settings and mainly because of running their own fuel, instead of the petronas stuff optimized with the engine @blackmamba

      1. Point is, they did have the best engine and still they were nowhere.

        Torro Rosso had a much worse engine than McLaren this season and they were pretty much equally poor.

      2. Williams was running Petrobras fuel, not the ideal Petronas

        1. @leventebandi, not in 2014 – in that year, although the team carried Petrobras’s sponsorship, Williams used Petronas’s fuel and lubricant mixtures because Petrobras didn’t have time to develop a specific product for them.

          1. Williams still do this. They use petronas, but their car branding is petrobras.

          2. juzh, in an interview with Autosport back in March 2015, Symonds was quoted as saying that Petrobras were in the process of developing a new fuel mixture (and in the process conceded that the fuel mixture did not offer quite the same performance as the standard Petronas fuel mixture).

            Asked by AUTOSPORT if there was a danger that Mercedes would naturally make its engine more suited to Petronas, Symonds replied: “We’re working on developing the fuel. Naturally we want the fuel to be good.

            “There’s no reason theoretically why Petrobras can’t develop a better fuel than Petronas, so it can be a positive, an advantage.

            “We’re not there yet, but that’s what we’re working towards.”

            It is possible that may be different behind the scenes – and if you can provide the evidence for that, I would be interested to hear more about it – but Williams’s public position is that they switched to Petrobras’s products back in 2015.

      3. so your saying the reason McLaren didn’t win the world championship (or any races) and came fifth in the championship, 210 points the team with the worst engine on the grid that year, was just down to them having the wrong fuel …..

        1. Yeh. They have the best chassis and the best engine to it has to be the fuel or possibly it could be the waterbottle.

      4. @bascb More excuses. Look at 2013 if you want more proof. McLaren were on pace perhaps the worst Mercedes car by the end of 2014.

        1. Look @peartree, @patrickl, et al. I certainly don’t mean to say that McLaren had a worldbeating chassis in 2014 that somehow was held back by the engine (this year they might have had a solid chassis that was hurt by the engine, but yeah, I doubt it was much better than what the likes of STR or FI had, certainly not on a level of Red Bull or Mercedes).

          I am just saying that it did hurt their year that they were severing their ties with Mercedes, because it meant that they were not in the loop for development. On top their fuel was far from optimal, and it makes a lot of sense that it wasn’t as Mobil couldn’t work much on it ahead of time due to the lack of information up front, and maybe a lack of will to invest too, seeing that they would also be working with Honda in the latter half of the year in preperation for 2015.

          Williams was in a bit better of a position with Mercedes for 2014 (maybe also in part due to the Toto Wolf connections) in that regard, and they did make a car that was perfectly suited to profit from the great engine on several tracks. Sadly Williams have since then never managed to iron out the weakness of that design in the wet and on more tricky tracks either.

  6. ColdFly F1 (@)
    24th December 2016, 1:03

    I’ve never been too convinced about Boullier’s qualities; IMO he’s just not there with top team management (whatever their titles and roles are).
    And now I’m really worried as he’s reporting into a marketing guy, and airing excuses even before the season has started.

    1. Me neither. He seems to have taken the car back to scratch and started from there as if everything was wrong, when in reality it just needed a tweak from the wrong path they took with the 2013 car. That has cost them a lot of time.

      Jo Ramirez is now talking of lack of passion, and I can’t see Boullier inspiring anyone. With him and Dennis it didn’t seem like fun and we remember one of the leading Red Bull aero dymanicists Fowler no longer wanted to go when Withmarsh was replaced.

      And then Arai seemed to baulk and there was a blame game going on where he apparently refused any ideas or input, also slowing development down. This must have cost the team as well, but then he was expecting to deal with Whitmarsh.

      1. @balue, I think that you mean Dan Fallows when you’re referring to the legal dispute between McLaren and Red Bull in 2014.

        If so, the talk at the time was that it was more of a case of Red Bull not wanting to let Fallows go and doing what it took to make Fallows change his mind. They’d just lost Fallows’s boss, Peter Prodromou, who resigned his position as Head of Aerodynamics and was returning to McLaren at about the same time, so they essentially threw money at Fallows until he stayed – until then, he’d been pretty set on leaving Red Bull.

        1. Yes I meant Fallows, don’t know why I wrote Fowler. Anyway, as I remember it and what I can still see from articles the backtrack was indeed because of the change at McLaren:

          Pressed on the matter, Horner added: ‘The situation with Dan is very clear – Dan decided he would leave Red Bull for reasons of his own. With the changes that happened at McLaren he decided he didn’t want to join. He then approached us to see if there was a situation still open, so it was 100 per cent his choice.’

          1. @balue, as noted in that same article, those comments (which are all coming from Red Bull) were being made at a time when McLaren had initiated legal action against Red Bull.

            When you consider that context, it was very much in Horner’s interests (since this is something that he would potentially have to use as part of his defence statement in a court of law) to try and put the blame for the conflict onto McLaren and their actions.

            Fallows himself never spoke to the press to ever give his reasons, and not everybody agreed with the claim that Fallows chose to go back to Red Bull because of the changes at McLaren (the BBC, for example, stated that they understood it was because Red Bull offered Fallows a larger salary and a more senior role than McLaren did ).

          2. Ok, but it doesn’t say the new incentives at Red Bull was the only reason for the change. It could just as well have been in addition to. And IMO, if all he really wanted was a better role and money at Red Bull, it’s just too much to think he would go these kind of lengths to acquire it. It rather tells that the change at McLaren was indeed a factor.

      2. @balue To be fair he couldn’t influence the 2014 design. In 2015 they at least had a slightly better chassis, but an awful engine. Still the Mercedes, Red Bull and Toro Rosso chassis were better, and the Ferrari chassis was perhaps roughly equal. The strongest point of the McLaren was probably its mechanical grip, not its aerodynamic grip, which has been a problem for at least the last four years.

        1. @f1infigures Yes, he seems to have been obsessed with driveability in mechanical grip to the detriment to other areas. It’s of course difficult to say exactly from the outside, but this complete change in the McLaren car between aero and mechanical can’t have been by accident. I also realize that because of the poor PU they can’t put downforce, but can still be compared to teams like Toro Rosso and even their own progression during the year.

        2. there is no such thing as aero grip. There is drag, something called air pressure, and then something the FIA doesn’t like, called ground effect. Other things of course. But seriously, the downward force exerted on the body of the car, attached to the chassis/monocoque, then in to the suspension, creating a normal force against the road, is really just the product of ‘down force’.

          McLaren cannot utilize hardly any down force because to do so would introduce drag beyond the ability of their engine’s ability to consume/efficiently use the stored energy in the petroleum. McLaren lose twice over, they get poorer because the regulations benefit only Mercedes Benz, making them poorer, they lose additional funds to find alternative design concepts/solutions which might be a best fit/more optimal solution for a given set of variables.

          It’s a downward spiral, the poorer teams get poorer, the poorer they get, the more they have to get on their knees and beg, the more they beg, the more compliant they become and the more ridiculous the driving gets as the producers of the ‘sport’ attempt to ‘spice’ up the show given the clear lack of competition. –> Race to the bottom.

          WEC makes a mockery of F1, just a shame it’s falling in line with the FIA’s branding considerations. It has so much more potential than what F1 has become. So much more potential. But the rule makers make a habit of making things more predictable, artificial, and fake, in the name of selling a product that is easily managed, branded and consumed.

  7. Oh no…the day has come, when we read about people in public being born in the year 2xxx!!

  8. Of course Torro Rosso, whose parent company runs two teams and is a company in it’s own right in a completely different industry whose expenditure couldn’t possibly be regulated in regards to F1 outside the teams themselves would be all for a costs capping exercise.

    This has always been the argument against capping costs, that outside the actual racing team itself other companies will be bearing the costs of development. I see nothing in Tost’s argument that tackles that issue.

    The teams, whether it’s actually through the team or otherwise if the measures do get introduced, will always spend what they think it’s worth to win. Saying that spending 450 million is too much is nonsensical, as that is what that team has decided it’s worth. F1 should be pleased that the value of their championship is so high.

    If the owners want to tackle the issue of financial competitiveness it should be through the currently incredibly lopsided prize money distribution.

    1. Read up on what Tost mentions Tristan. What he says (using benchmark/industry/branch numbers if the real number is not provided) is both common and easy to do.

      Red Bull itself can so far easily afford not having a spending cap off course. But as Tost mentions, not all the manufacturers will be willing to spend that kind of money forever. And I am sure the likes of those, as well as Didi Mateschitz would all be happy to get more “bang for their buck” even if it meant that teams like Williams could be in the running too. Comparing FI and Ferrari shows us that there is something as having too much money for ones own good when looking for success.

      1. Well said @bascb, the original German article there was a good read; I didn’t agree with everything Tost said, but I get what he’s saying.

        And indeed,comparing FI and Ferrari doesn’t look great for the big spenders. FI themselves think they need an extra 100 million currently too be WCC contestants, would be great to galf that.

        1. @bosyber, on the flip side, there are those who are concerned that the real reason for an interest in a budget cap by Liberty Media isn’t an egalitarian ideal to “level the field”, but a means by which they can justify taking a larger cut of the overall profits of the sport.

          After all, if a team cannot spend more than, say, €150 million per year, then there is no need for FOM to pay them any more money than that at most (they could even argue that they only need to pay, say, €100 million and leave it to the team to find the rest in sponsorship).

          Equally, whilst Tost does have some valid arguments, at the same time his comments leave some ambiguity over how a team would be defined, leaving a potential opening for the system to be abused.

          After all, in the case of Toro Rosso, whilst the team itself manufactures and runs the cars, the design work itself is undertaken at Red Bull Technology, a semi-independent design centre that Red Bull set up in order to circumvent earlier restrictions on the sharing of designs between teams.

          If a budget cap were introduced, would the work of Red Bull Technology be classified as part of the operations of Toro Rosso and therefore subject to the cap? Or, given that it is technically separate from the teams themselves, would their spending be separate from the race teams and therefore not directly subject to a potential cap on spending?

          If it were the latter case, there is then a potentially quite sizeable incentive for Tost to push for a budget cap given that it would then give his team, to borrow Penske’s phrase, a potentially sizeable “unfair advantage”.

          That issue of how an external supplier like Red Bull Technologies would be treated under a budget cap system has never really been resolved, and Tost still hasn’t come up with a solution to that issue (note that he mainly talks about physical items – component parts etc. – and doesn’t directly mention the cost of design work or intellectual property rights).

          1. The part you mention about the design work somehow being hard to define is pretty much exactly what Tost mentions.

            Unless a team gives a clear number for things, just account them for, say double the average of teams that do. I am sure we could have a Williams, FI, Manor, Sauber and McLaren give a good number for that part, and from the “industry average” put up a benchmark number as the basis for accounting the budget.

            That is how it works in the real world too. Many tax authorities also do that when they think you are hiding something, or overstating costs, they give their own estimate based on industry/branch averages. Unless off course they signed a deal with your multinational to pay only a few % anyway :-)

          2. @bascb, but what happens when the part in question may be something that is unique to a particular team? Over the past few years, you have had other teams having components which no other team has replicated and for which there would be no “industry average” figure (one example could be the design of the housing of Ferrari’s turbocharger – the design is bespoke to them and, due to the homologation rules, no other team can replicate it).

            Speaking of which, does Tost’s proposal apply equally to those teams that manufacture and supply engines to other teams on the grid? Would you have separate caps for the engine divisions? How would it work when the engine manufacturing division is integrated into the team, as is the case with Ferrari? It’s one of those things where I am not completely convinced that Tost’s solution really is as watertight as he is stating it to be.

    2. There are plenty of manufacturers who would not mind spending 200 million or 300 million, but spending about half a billion per year is too much for them.

      It’s not just that a budget cap would level the playing field by a huge lot, but it could also draw in more top teams.

      1. Exactly @patrickl. The current “open ended” is a risk factor not many companies can really commit to. But if it would be a clear number in that range, it might well open up interest from a far wider group of them who would be able to compare cost to the advantages and say yes to that commitment.

  9. If they sorted out the prize money distribution by taking away the ‘bonus payments’ given to larger teams, it would act as a form of budget cap.

    Just a thought.

    1. “If we had the best engine this year, we would have won races. We know, the GPS traces (of corner speeds) tell us.”

      In the quest to respond to this quote I came across an interesting article (link below) about the design philosophies employed by Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, and Honda. The interesting thing in the article is they say Honda was expected to use a similar setup to Mercedes, because it was successful, but didn’t.

      The assumption was that the Honda would follow Mercedes successful approach of positioning the compressor and turbine [at opposite ends the V of the engine, with the MGU-H in the middle]. Instead, they have chosen to follow a different approach to all three manufacturers, positioning the MGU-H between the compressor and turbine at the rear of the engine, and the MGU-K at the front … Honda turbo is opposite in size when compared to the Mercedes. Mercedes turbo and compressor are probably twice the physical size of their Honda counterparts. This means Honda’s compressor is smaller than Mercedes’ – the idea being to keep the engine compact to aid the car’s aerodynamics. There is also a question mark surrounding the MGU-K and whether it was sized correctly for the demands. Recent images showing it is roughly 1/2 the size

      Note the “This means Honda’s compressor is smaller than Mercedes’ – the idea being to keep the engine compact to aid the car’s aerodynamics.” In hindsight this must be one of the biggest blunders in recent F1 history: McLaren’s tenacious desire for aerodynamic efficiency was at the expense of horsepower. There are several design features that Honda used that, according to the article, were more likely to produce less power than what Mercedes did (e.g. smaller turbines, longer air hoses, closer spacing of the exhaust turbine to the air intake turbine so the air going to the intercooler is hotter, smaller MGU-K, etc), and these differences and their effects should have been obvious to the engineers at both McLaren and Honda.
      Saying they could have done better with the Mercedes engine overlooks they would have done better with the Honda engine as well if they had opted to use the same design philosophies that Mercedes did. To me it would have been a “safe” option in a homologation environment for McLaren-Honda to have followed the same design philosophies used by Mercedes.

      1. They didn’t copy Mercedes, sacrificed engine performance to gain aero performance and failed to get aero advantage.

        Sounds like they failed on all fronts.

  10. I for one agree with Tost’s comments, even if they may come across to some as cold and unfeeling. But this is typical of Tost- I remember he made some outrageous comments about countries that can’t afford F1- even the Western European ones- where Grand Prix originated from, of course. F1 needs to be in Argentina, India, South Africa and have one or two more races in the United States. I think there should also be a GP in Sweden (again) or Finland (preferably the latter, why there hasn’t been a GP there since Keke Rosberg became one of F1’s top drivers is beyond me). And I for one am happy the Malaysian GP is going after 2018- the Singapore GP is a far better event and I never much liked the Sepang circuit anyway. Once the French Grand Prix returns, aside from one more European GP in the aforementioned Nordic countries, there can’t be any more GP’s in Europe. Enough is enough, I think. They are going to have to start dropping certain other countries- we should keep our fingers crossed that Liberty decides they don’t need Bahrain anymore. If that day comes, that will be a great moment in F1 history, as finally the worst and most shameful GP event in history is finally gone. Russia and China should also go too- who needs 2 GP’s in the Causcus?

    1. And that COTD is for the most part one I disagree with. If PeterG was actually aware of how restrictive the regulations are, and the fact that teams need to come up with whole new cars and more funding to be competitive, then this logic would be correct.

    2. *since Keke Rosberg was one of F1’s top drivers

  11. McLaren are so funny. They have a worse chassis than Toro Rosso and only slightly better than Force India. If Ferrari couldn’t win a race despite the third best chassis and the second best engine; how could McLaren win several with a midfield chassis and a GP2 engine….

    1. I doubt mclaren chassis was as good as SFI. May be they are on par in some races but over all through out the season i rate their chassis lower than SFI. They are not far off but not equal to SFI either in terms of chassis.

    2. McLaren scored more points than Toro Rosso. Somewhere the TR boys did an awful job to be beaten by a GP2 engine in F1. @lolzerbob

      1. True, Kvyat performed very poorly after he was demoted. Sainz gets praised a lot, but he tends to move backwards during a race from his starting grid slot.

        STR had the worst engine though, so at anything than say Monaco and Hungary, they didn’t have much of a chance against McLaren.

  12. If you beat Mclaren at darts they would quickly say ‘We would have won if we played with our right hand.’

    1. No. They would say that they would win if they had their opponent’s hand.

  13. If we were in gp2 we would have won races…

  14. McLaren ‘would’ve won races with top engine’ !!!
    If my grandmother had two wheels she would be a bicycle.

  15. Zsolt Baumgartner would have won races, if he would have an up to date Ferrari engine in his Minardi

  16. GpS tracess… Fast on some corners… Manor was fastest on some straights aswell…

    Where is that trace in lap time? Maybe they just have inefficient DF… Red Bull had good GPS traces aswell… And only managed to win sometimes.

    But their chassis atleast looked properly good. McLaren had nothing like a RBR chassis.

    What would save them is 10% more power than everyone else.. Then they would be competitive.

  17. McLaren were only marginally better than Toro Rosso which was running the year old engine.

    So to say that they would have won with a Mercedes engine is dreamy.
    This downfall of the three old teams – Ferrari, McLaren and Williams is saddening to watch. But that is the truth in every industry, every country. The old guard has to make way for the new. Red Bull, Mercedes and may be, Force India is that new guard.

    1. You think Force india that struggles to survive will compete long time with any of those teams you mentioned?

  18. I could also take a walk to Mars if it happened to be located 5 blocks from home. There are so many things that could happen if reality was different…

  19. Mclaren would have more wins with more P1 finishes…

  20. Yeah, right… So many IFs!!

    OK, McLaren is ridiculous… again! In my opinion, their engine was improved dramatically this year, got better than Ferrari’s 2015 engine, for example. Part of their “big points” finishes this year happened thanks to (many) DNFs of the cars ahead and not because they were faster.

    Kinda same stuff goes for RIC’s remark: if RBR will better Mercedes in 2017, his rating as a driver will improve, if not, he’ll look like joker. What we know for sure is that RBR wasn’t the best place to be in the last 3 years and he didn’t predict that!

  21. Actually my Mazda 121 from 1997 would have won this season – IF!!!!

    I Don’t buy it Mclaren ! GO back to the drawing room and stop whining… you lost BIG time AGAIN – cope with it…

  22. The fact is even in 1990 end season ferrari had a better car but not engine.In 1991 the engine was what won them the championship the fact that it was reliable and powerfull.So in 2016 it wasn’t the best engine but the car could have been a lot better.

  23. Ya, IF is a useless term.

  24. Mclaren are getting exactly what they deserve. They decided to get cheap with HAM and gave up the Mercedes engine. Needless to say they haven’t win in over 4 years.

    1. what’s Hamilton got to do with it?

  25. And if I were worth $200 million like Lewis I would have got to sleep with Lindsay Vonn! Come on McLaren, who are you trying to kid? Manor would have won races this year if they had the best engine too, FCS!

    1. Manor did have the Merc engine!
      McLaren may have won a race or 2, as their car was good at a few circuits, however, lets not kid ourselves, you need to be good at most to be competitive!
      While the PU may be the biggest stumbling block, the aero/chassis still needs a lot of improvement! Some races where McLaren thought they would do ok with they struggled.

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