Fernando Alonso, United Autosports, Daytona 24 Hours testing, 2018

McLaren could be “very competitive” with Renault – Alonso

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso says McLaren are in much more promising shape now than they were 12 months ago with Honda.

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Ferrari’s special status in F1 adds to the appeal of the team and the sport, Ashwin reckons:

I find Ferrari’s favoritism in F1 very interesting. The way they are considered favorites of the organizers and the way they can cry to manipulate the rules and regs in F1 though it looks unfair is just plain awesome for me. They are considered the bullies, the villains in F1 that most of us also seem to love.

Their history in the sport, their legendary drivers in the present and past, the evil team orders, the controversies, that most drivers on the grid want to wear the red outfit all makes us love them even more.

Mercedes reigning over Ferrari or Red Bull does not look or feel spectacular cause we believe they already had the technology in V6 to go beyond the other teams (in 2014). They just had to improve on the engines from their performance car designs.

I await the day an underdog beats Ferrari or the Mercs in the championship. It will be a spectacular win.
Ashwin (@Redbullf1)

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  • 42 comments on “McLaren could be “very competitive” with Renault – Alonso”

    1. Regarding the COTD, I don’t need fake drama in my racing.
      I can be excited enough with a fair sporting event.
      No need for pantomime villains.

      1. It’s not ‘fake’ drama, it’s all real. I have massive respect for Ferrari, but as team I hate them, I think drivers become totally above themselves once they get a Ferrari seat, like the world owes them a championship or something. I love to see Ferrari get beaten, but only in a straight fight for the win, I don’t like to see them give poor performances as I expect better than mediocre from them, even thought I dislike them with almost as much passion as I love McLaren.
        Ferrari are the bullies if u like.
        Redbull are anti-establishment as push their luck.
        Mercedes are the German juggernauts, with the might of a car giant.
        McLaren are seen a clinical, anal if u will.
        Force India are the giant killers.
        Toro Rosso are the brutal driver proving ground.
        Sauber always have money dramas.
        Williams are the family team.
        Renault are just a bit too French and should stick supplying engines.
        Hass are the newbies desperate for a foot hold in the top flight of motor sport.

        See, every team has its role to play.
        No ‘fake’ drama, just a compelling story line with individual characters.
        Every year the story is a little different.

        1. Very nicely put @thebullwhipper. This is the type of ‘drama’ I love about Formula One, that you just don’t get in other series. I enjoy wheel-to-wheel racing, and follow many series passionately, but the soap opera is what sets F1 aside. It’s a much more longterm thrill than just the ontrack battle…

          But I do still wish that a slipstream paid SOME dividend…

          1. Although calling RedBull anti-establishment these days requires a stretch of the imagination.

            1. Yeah, Red Bull has BEEN the establishment more or less since 2010 @gongtong

        2. I have lost more and more respect for the team over the years @thebullwhipper.

          Their dodgy agreements with the FIA to allow illegal bodywork, the way the FIA clearly tried to favour them in several years in the earlies 2000, the way they had Sauber interfere in their favour on track, team orders in the last 2 decades, their constant whining about how they somehow deserve to win (more than others), selling out in the commecial agreements, the veto, the way the treat the press regularly, just no.

          To me they act like a team that cannot win fairly and have and still try to abuse the sway they have only for their own good, but think the sport owes them their wins non the less. I agree that F1 without Ferrari would not feel complete – at least at first – but I am sure that it would work out in the end.

          1. @bascb, could you not raise most of those complaints against other teams as well – how about Red Bull, for example?

            Remember the systematic complaints about excessively flexible front wings, slots in the floor that shouldn’t have been allowed, flexing floors and flexing nosecones which went on for several years? Complaints that there were times when it looked as if the drivers at Toro Rosso were making it easier for the Red Bull drivers to lap them and harder for their rivals to lap them, and using Toro Rosso’s voting rights in the past to block rule changes that they disliked? Their use of team orders (Multi-12) and bias within the team? Red Bull’s decision to break ranks in the last set of talks over the Concorde Agreement, where I believe that they were the first team to sell out in favour of getting favourable terms? The repeated threats to pull out of the sport unless they were given a more competitive engine?

            Let’s be blunt, it isn’t as if the other teams that Ferrari is competing against aren’t without their own controversies in the past either. It’s effectively a choice of which team with what set of vices you are prepared to accept.

            1. Sure, Red Bull have been whine b*ches very often, so I mostly stopped listening when Horner spoke, but they do not have a veto, and are regularly ignored when they cry wolf, unlike Ferrari anon.

              However, I agree with @bascb, when we got into F1 Ferrari had a magical sheen (but maybe that was from not knowing better?), and sympathy when they were struggling to get back to glory (early nineties). From there though, we got to clearly see they are a bully when on top and when not.

              By the way, while I got tired of Red Bull halfway through 2009 with their moaning about the double diffuser, KERS (and loved Kimi’s comeback ‘want to trade?’), engine power, you name it, and never really warmed to the team leadership, including Newey, again, they are just a team in the end. A clever, resourceful team, that is more than others willing and able to find sneaky advantages, but a team. Like Mercedes is a team with big backing and lots of resources. And McLaren too, a bit hypocritical, big shoes that are sometimes quite a bit too big, but able to come back. All three team that need to perform in order to be taken seriously, even if not all of them realise that all the time.

              Ferrari has been in F1 from the start, and we constantly have to hear it, either because they tell us they deserve to win, or because they feel they should be otherwise treated as special. They are special in that, but not in a good way.

            2. @bosyber, on the other hand, when the 2017 regulations were being drafted, most observers were of the opinion that the new regulations were written in such a way that they were expected to heavily favour Red Bull and came in a period when Red Bull had been throwing their weight about in the sport and threatening to withdraw from the sport.

              It gives the impression that, rather than being ignored, Red Bull were being catered to with the new regulations – whilst a number of posters here complained about the increased importance of aero, Horner’s position was that the sport didn’t go far enough and should have allowed even more aerodynamic development.

              Equally, the proposed 2020 regulations – which many feel are designed to significantly reduce the importance of the engines and increase the importance of aerodynamics – seem skewed very much in Red Bull’s favour, especially with their political ally, Aston Martin, continuing to stir up stories in the press lobbying for those changes.

              You could say, therefore, that Red Bull seems to have something better than a veto right now – it is a group of rule makers that seem to be willing to shift the rules back in their favour again.

            3. @anon I can’t subscribe to your theory other than in a vague way, in the sense that for sure we have seen many times when one team dominates for too long the regs get changed to try to throw said dominant team off their dominance, not generally for any one specific team though but just against the dominant one. RBR had their diffuser work diminished in an attempt to stop that train, but it was really the new gen of pu’s that caught them out and to many people’s dismay handed a locked in advantage to Mercedes that still resonates.

              I don’t see RBR having the power to sway future decisions in their favour. Nor do I see the proposed for now initial conversations of 2021 as diminishing the importance of engines. Even if they are simplified some, and made more affordable, I doubt they will be made as insignificant as you like to imply these days.

              The jury is out on where they will go with aero but suffice it to say for the first time Brawn has a team together to study, and I believe will actually implement aero regs that will allow for closer racing. Brawn has said he has never been a fan of DRS so I think there is hope for it’s disappearance in the next gen as well.

              Overall your theory seems to hinge on how things have been done in the past under BE, and I think it is a new day and a new regime and the aim for 2021 will be to have several teams very close to each other at the top, with the lesser teams closer to them than currently. And without any one team having the regs moulded for them personally.

              I think I’ve said to you before, Liberty and Brawn will be well aware of each teams current preferences…they know Mercedes would love to keep everything as it is, that Ferrari has been playing draw-a-line-in-the-sand and threatened to leave, that RBR are still theoretically the biggest aero threat due to having Newey etc etc. Will Newey even still be in F1 in 4 years for Horner to have seen your suggested master plan of his through? Who knows, but to me it just doesn’t feel like Brawn and Liberty will be swayed by any one team’s obvious motivations.

          2. @thebullwhipper

            […]I love McLaren[…]McLaren are seen a clinical, anal if u will.

            I see how being a mclaren fan has probably been a pain in the Ass recently

        3. @thebullwhipper the description of each team is really far fetched and require some imagination to link this back to reality… Looks like you are inventing story that does not seems to exist from what I can see. Some are real, some are contreversial, some does not even exist.

        4. In general these labels reveal more about the personality of their author than about the teams themselves.

    2. Ah, so that cover image finally clarifies (for me, at least) that it wasn’t “Kimi” on Alonso’s cap!

      1. Its actually a portmanteau of “Kimi” and “mwoah”.

    3. Glad that McLaren are finally positive about the start of a season. While I’m sure they won’t se the world on fire straight away, I’m pretty sure they’ll be getting both drivers in to Q3 from the get go. Even if they don’t take the fight to the top 3 teams this season, it will still be a massive step up from fighting the Saubers at the back.

      1. ^ This. With Williams likely to be dropping backwards, one can only wish for a God-almighty midfield battle between Force India, Renault & McLaren; and have Haas, Williams keeping them honest.

      2. They better be competitive. On the other hand, I would love to see Honda showing up this year too.

      3. Let’s see how confident they are after the first week of testing.

        The cars with the Honda PU weren’t the only ones to cover minimal numbers of laps for the last 2 years.

      4. But why? They go from the 4th to the 3rd best PU. Yes in seconds the difference is big, but look how far RB still is.

        It is safe to say that they will leapfrog Sauber and Haas (or is it, Haas switched focus very soon and Sauber has a renewed partnership with Ferrari). But the well oiled machine that is Force India? The yet improving Renault and even (big if here) the first Williams with actual influence from Paddy Lowe?

        Not just the fans but the team and its drivers were very fast to diminish the other midfield teams, as it is a given fact that they will outperform them.

        McLaren has a lot to prove, and in 2018 there won’t be Honda to blame.

        Budget isn’t everything.

        And btw they were always positive for the start of the season, problem was after testing actually began

        1. @johnmilk Perhaps some fans have said they ‘will’ but I doubt if the Mac team and drivers have said much beyond that they ‘should’ be more competitive with Renault’s pu, and that their hopes are high.

          And sure they won’t have Honda to blame, but if it comes down to them still struggling in a surprising way they can ‘blame’ it being year one of their relationship with Renault and the resultant teething issues that can bring. Either way I never thought of them as ‘blaming’ Honda in the sense that what happened was plain for all to see…that Honda was the weak link. They were just stating the obvious moreso than blaming, imho.

          Budget isn’t everything? That’s true it is not…just ask Toyota, or even Ferrari etc. But it sure is huge even if no guarantee. Budget/money is pretty much the biggest issue in F1 right now, and Mac has no shortage of it, so if anyone can adapt quickly they are one of the ‘have’ teams that can.

          I think the odds are quite high that they won’t do worse than they have in the last three years, nor even the same, so to me that puts them at a minimum as a threat to finish in the points much much more often…and I extrapolate that to mean they will be fighting strongly to be the best of the rest after the top 3 of 2017, Mercedes, Ferrari, and RBR. And there’s the Alonso factor too. It’s gonna be a blast to see.

    4. Why is there this continual stream of Mclaren comments? Do they release their statements one sentence at a time??
      You hear nothing from teams like Torro Rosso or FI, even Red Bull has less news stories and they made their living off the back of media exposure.

      Sometimes I wonder if I’ve selected a category by accident.

      1. I do think that this is strategy from McLaren to keep in the news – remember their top guy is a Marketing Man!

        But we had an article about STR what 2 days ago? Red Bull always tends to be secretive about what it does, unless they had some bone to grind – and would leak some things to German Bild, or to Blick in Switzerland, don’t expect to hear any news from them.

        Their marketing hasn’t been all that good in F1 really. It was just about winning all of it.

    5. Regarding the F1i-article: The current number of cars is fine, so there’s no absolute need for more. Furthermore, it’d mean more ‘moving chicanes’ to lap for the front-runners, so, therefore, the extra six cars would basically just be nothing more than grid-fillers. I also could live without Ferrari, i.e., I’d keep watching/following F1 even if Ferrari were to leave someday. I’m positive F1 could as well.

      1. “Regarding the F1i-article: The current number of cars is fine, so there’s no absolute need for more.”
        – The current number is not fine, is way too low. Back when there were 26 cars, it was better.

        “Furthermore, it’d mean more ‘moving chicanes’ to lap for the front-runners, so, therefore, the extra six cars would basically just be nothing more than grid-fillers. ”
        – Formula 1 is about more than just the 4 cars at the front. The cars in the midfield having more competition would make races and the championshiop more interesting. More variety can never be bad.

        1. @damon, I wouldn’t say that it was automatically better – @jerejj does have a point that it really depends on how competitive those teams were, as they weren’t always adding to the competition in the midfield.

          I believe that the last time that there were at least 26 cars on the grid would be 1995, when 14 teams started that season. However, Simtek went into liquidation after 5 races, Pacific withdrew at the end of that season and Forti didn’t last much longer, collapsing midway through the 1996 season.

          The problem there was that you could be pretty certain to see Simtek, Pacific and Forti at the bottom of the timesheets for pretty much every race, usually with Minardi and Footwork just ahead of them. You didn’t really have more cars and more variety in the midfield as most of those teams could never make a car that was competitive enough to race in the midfield – they were stuck at the back and remained there, and whilst you had more cars, you didn’t really have that much more variety as the running order was relatively predictable.

          1. More recently you had Caterham, HRT and Minardi having their own little fight 1-2 seconds behind the rest of the grid. Didn’t add anything, really. Though it would if points were awarded until, say, 15th place, so those teams could also compete for something instead of all being stuck at 0 points.

            1. @krommenaas Caterham, HRT, and Manor/Marussia to be precise.

    6. Re COTD

      If I’m not mistaken, the original architecture for the hybrid units were 1.4L V4, however Ferrari said they don’t make V4s and would not be relevant to them. So the manufactures were consulted and they finally agreed on increasing the engine capacity & cyclindets by 2 & it was signed off in 2011. As per the words of Martin Whitmarsh.

      So how can it be assumed that Mercedes already had this technology, when it was Renault who proposed that they move to hybrid units or they’d withdraw from the championship?

      1. When I play poker I am very concealing in what my hand is.
        Merc isn’t going to lay all of their cards out. Just because they did not initiate the proposed hybrid units doesn’t mean they did not have technology already.

      2. Did anybody make V-4’s ahead of them agreeing to V-6’s?

    7. “I was convinced, as I had some contacts at McLaren…..

      Reading the Motorsport article we discover, “Plus, and probably most important for me, was that we were linked to McLaren for the gearbox with absolutely no internal resources to do our own one.”
      When you have one supplier supply all of a product there is far less room for argument about interfacing problems than if you have multiple suppliers supply you a product. In this case we have a gearbox supplied by McLaren and a power unit not supplied by McLaren but Ferrari, one of McLaren’s historical competitors. Whenever Sauber have a problem that stems from the relationship between the power unit and the gearbox they will have the same problem: the Ferrari will say their product works correctly and the fault lies with the gearbox, and McLaren will say their product worked correctly and the fault lies with the power unit.
      As I think about this, I think it would have been to Sauber’s advantage to have Ferrari supply the transmission system than McLaren because Ferrari already supply their own cars and Haas with that same transmission system. If McLaren weren’t prepared to work with Honda, who they don’t have the same historical animosity they have with Ferrari, why should they be prepared to work with Ferrari who are almost arch-enemies?

      1. @drycrust
        I think you misunderstood the article.

        Vasseur started at Sauber and found the Honda contract, but without a gearbox contract in place. Sauber has no resources to do one themselves, Honda doesn’t have one, so the only available unit was the 2017 McLaren gearbox, as McLaren looked set to divorce from Honda (and thus the 2018 gearbox would be for a different power unit). Vasseur concluded he didn’t want the 2017 McLaren gearbox (probably not cheap and little development), saw he didn’t have a gearbox at all and thus cancelled the Honda deal.

        Instead he negotiated a deal with Ferrari for the power unit, gearbox and probably differential and rear suspension as well. So the 2018 Sauber will have a 2018 Ferrari power unit and 2018 Ferrari gearbox.

        This article is very old news, by the way, as Vasseur told the same thing months ago (september 2017, iirc) in an interview on Dutch TV.

        1. I just think the main reason is that Vasseur has read the book of Brawn and Parr. Even if Brawn in the book writes positively about Honda’s way of pulling out and the creation of Brawn, then team, the reader gets a clear impression of Honda, as a closed chapter in F1 history – Honda’s approach to F1 will not be able to lead to a success. Honda needs to somehow disrupt themselves or re-invent themselves, organisational, operational etc. from their HR department and all the way through, including the Honda model ranges, before they will be able to get back to the front of the grid, as they proudly were in the 80’ties, were they were awesome. Back then I dreamt of owning a small smart Honda sports car – nowadays, I don’t even notice Honda’s, to the level that I can’t remember a name of one model of their present car model range….

    8. COTD: “I await the day an underdog beats Ferrari or the Mercs in the championship.”

      I don’t think underdogs – in the purest sense of the word – can exist in Formula 1 though.
      Unless there’s a super unique and unlikely series of coincidences like 2009, when Brawn GP showed up with somebody else’s car that out of the blue turned out to be great, I don’t think we could call a team like RedBull underdog (e.g. if they won the Championship in 2018), because with their financial and engineering assets, success couldn’t be deemed a surprise of any kind. Whereas any other team coming from behind and suddenly winning it in 2018 seems intangible. Unless the success has long time been brewing, no “underdog” wins in Formula 1.

      1. I await the day an underdog beats Ferrari or the Mercs in the championship. It will be a spectacular win.

        We older fans still recall 2009.

        1. And what an awesome year that was :)

    9. McLaren could be competitive with Renault, but with Renault having their own team in F1, I am suspicious as to where their loyalties lay? After all, the souring of the relationship between Mercedes and McLaren years ago, and Mercedes purchase of Brawn Gp led to McLaren’s disastrous decision to go to Honda for their engines.
      They wanted to be the sole customer of Honda power in the sport and that plan backfired in the worst possible way.
      The only way you can, on a longterm basis, challenge in F1 for championships is to be a factory team. The days of the independent teams like Williams for instance challenging for the top prizes are over, they have been priced out of the market. They have no choice but to buy Mercedes power because that is the best option, unless Frank Williams sells out to a major manufacturer. The same is true of McLaren to some extent.
      It is a sad state of affairs to see a once mighty team flounder around for scraps but that is the reality. That is the business they are in. I believe McLaren will do better, but when you are on the bones of your backside the only way is up!

      1. I have a feeling that the next gen of F1 post-2020 will diminish somewhat the need to be a factory team doing everything in-house as the only hope of winning races and Championships, as is the case since 2014. I think F1 will sway somewhat back to teams being able to bolt on someone’s good engine to their good chassis and get somewhere with that rather than it all needing be done all together both on the car, and under one roof.

    10. Yes Mclaren may end up nearly as good as in the happy Mercedes days… lol lol

    11. They won two drivers championships and the 1998 constructors title in the ‘happy’ Mercedes days. That is far better than under the more recent guise as Honda.

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