McLaren aims to emulate “extremely fruitful” Red Bull-Renault partnership

2018 F1 season

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McLaren says it wants to emulate Red Bull’s “extremely fruitful” partnership with Renault which led to their successes in the latter years of the V8 engine era.

Red Bull and Renault won four consecutive constructors’ championship between 2010 and 2013 and Sebastian Vettel won the drivers’ title in each of those seasons.

McLaren’s chief technical officer for aerodynamics Peter Prodromou, who joined the team from Red Bull in 2014, said there’s no reason why they can’t have a similar relationship with Renault as an engine customer.

“The experience when I was at Red Bull, contrary perhaps to what’s out there in the media that’s quite negative now, it was very positive and extremely fruitful as a relationship,” said Prodomou.

“A lot of the success we had you can attribute not just to the work that we were doing in Milton Keynes but the work that was going on in [the Renault factory at] Viry.”

“For instance the whole exhaust-blown diffusers, it was something that we worked very closely with Viry on and we couldn’t have done it without them. That type of project was really fruitful, great relationship, got a lot of trust for them, and I just hope that we can replicate that type of relationship in the future with them.”

A key difference between Red Bull’s situation five years ago and McLaren’s today is that McLaren are Renault customers, rather than works partners.

“It is different,” Prodromou acknowledged, “it’s different in the sense that it’s new and we’re a customer.”

“But I think with time there’s no reason why we can’t work closely with them and try and forge a strong relationship where we have influence over some of the work they do and we get the extra benefits that comes with manufacturer status.”

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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...

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38 comments on “McLaren aims to emulate “extremely fruitful” Red Bull-Renault partnership”

  1. Another Mclaren story…

    1. Are you counting?


      Anyway, I think one of the most interesting stories for the 2018 season will be how Mclaren, Red Bull and Renaul all stack up relative to each other.

    2. …and Red Bull, and Renault!

  2. I’d say this non-story belongs in a Round-up article, Keith, really ;)

    1. not if it is an original story based on interview or public statements.
      If it were copied quotes then @keithcollantine surely would have mentioned the source.

      1. though very similar to this story (, and not even sure if that’s original.

        Yeah probably should be round-up (and a few days ago). @damon

        1. To be clear, the quotes in this article are from the media session I attended on Thursday, I assume AS had someone there too. I will try to make a point of making it clearer where quotes like this have come from in future, not least because more and more sites appear to be taking content from here and using it without any kind of acknowledgement, credit or link. (A recent example being the quotes here:

          1. Yes, as another example I’ve seen some other websites using the f1 fanatic driver rankings articles of this year.

      2. I’d have a guess that it might have been the product of a media day/similar thing at McLaren… I recall Keith was there a few days ago, as I saw a tweet about the cars on display. If other sources have similar stories, other journalists would probably have been there too… but as this particular piece is entirely original work from Keith, it would require its own article.

  3. Somebody should tell Red Bull that they’ve had success with Renault, I don’t think they’ve realised.

  4. The main difference isn’t McLaren being a client, the biggest difference is Renault has its own team now, as soon as they get to the front priorities will change.

    RebBull know it and are already testing Honda with STR and I’m sure they are looking for alternatives as well, because you know, Honda.

    If McLaren think this is the future, I’m afraid they are a step behind… again

    1. Ya true. I’m not sure what else they can say at this point though. They know this isn’t an ideal situation. That would have been Honda actually making a competitive unit and being a works participant with Mac.

      For now I think they will just have to say things like this, and do the best they can to at least get themselves out of the doldrums and back to something that can at least regularly get into the small points, and just see what evolves from there.

      The whole surprising failing of Honda has really set them and Alonso back, so now they have no option but to just do the best they can with Renault, and that should start with some positive spin. They’ve just come off of three years of negativity but now at least if they can build a great car they can have some races where they’re in it somewhat, like a have team should be, and like they typically have been throughout F1’s history.

    2. I don’t think that McLaren thinks this is the future (long term). This is a quick fix to get them through to the new regulations. I’m sure they would have much preferred to stay a works team with Honda, but even McLaren needs sponsors and money and this new partnership will put them closer to the pointy end of the field for the next few years.

    3. @johnmilk

      I don’t think it’s the future of McLaren. It’s just a stop gap solution till 2021. I’d be surprised if they aren’t looking to get a strong engine partner for the next regulation change. For McLaren up until 2021 is just damage limitation from the Honda partnership.

      1. We can all agree then that these comments from McLaren are just a waste of time, and they should shut it and work on it.

        Not a reply just to you @todfod but for the previous comments as well

  5. Holding it until 2020, hoping for a 4th place in WCC with a few podiums or even the odd victory. Then building its own engine with hopefully suitable new engine regulations.

    1. Agree. If they don’t come up with their ‘own’ engine by 2021 it looks like they will only finish second at best behind Renault… Except if Renault stop their effort as a team and continue as work engine for McLaren but I wouldn’t count on that.

  6. I’m looking forward to seeing how Mclaren will fair against Red Bull with the same PU. Since RB joined F1, these two teams have always used different engines/PUs so far, so it’ll be interesting to finally be able to directly compare the cars of these teams now that they will be powered by the same manufacturer at the same time for the first time.

    1. Yeah me too, it will be fun and interesting. I’ll give the nod to RBR though as they bagged 5 wins last year and I sure don’t expect that from Mac all of a sudden. There will be teething issues I would expect.

      1. I’ll give the nod to RBR though as they bagged 5 wins last year

        @robbie 5 wins for RBR in 2017? They had 3: Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Mexico. Ferarri had 5 wins in 2017.

        1. @demercer Oops, right you are. I knew there was a five in there somewhere. 😉

      2. Yes, aside from the win number which has already been corrected, something tells me mclaren chassis isn’t really top notch, one of the best, sure, but that’s the minimum I’d expect from a historic team to be honest, but not at the same level as red bull and ferrari, maybe not even mercedes.

        Examples are hungary and singapore, 1 second off the pace in the race in a track where there’s barely any straight? I doubt that’s all due to the engine, and singapore I think it was almost 2 seconds in qualifying, true the track is long but it really looks like there’s some chassis deficit too and since red bull might be the best or joint best with ferrari in that area, I think they should beat mclaren, car-wise, and even their drivers aren’t worse, really.

  7. I thought Red Bull supplied their own hybrid system, which was different from that used by Renault. Is that correct?

    1. @drycrust that happened before the v6 hybrid. Red Bull had their own KERS iirc

  8. All this Mclaren talk is beginning to sound Ferrari talk at the start of the 2016 season; and we all know how that turned out.

    I just finished watching the Grand Prix driver documentary. Kudos to Mclaren for giving such unprecedented access, it really was a treasure to watch. But I was really surprised to see such little of Honda in this documentary. The engineers are talking about how ‘the engine will come 48 hours before the fire-up’ and they have absolutely no idea what is happening with the engine then. The first Honda personnel we see is in episode 2. In episode 4, it is mentioned that chassis#4 will be sent to Japan (this is after first round of pre-season testing is over) so that the Honda engineers can also install the engine on the chassis and detect any problems. Why should it take until end of first round of pre-season testing to do this? Shouldn’t this be at least couple of weeks before testing starts? And this begs the question, what did these 2 parties do during 2015 and 2016? Surely, Mclaren and Ferrari test their engine and chassis together? And have done so every year.

    Mclaren decided to go with Honda because they wanted to be a manufacturer-backed team and not just a customer. But what I saw on the documentary was an engine-manufacturer-customer relationship between the two parties. No wonder they barely made progress in these last 3 years.

    1. “Mercedes and Ferrari test their engine and chassis together”

    2. I was wondering the same about sending a chassis to Japan after the first tests. But, firstly, McLaren could hardly complete 1 chassis for themselves in time, and secondly, we can assume Honda still had the 2016 chassis to work with, which isn’t ideal but a lot better than having no chassis to test the engine on.

  9. changing the aim from “we’ll be leading in short time” to “unsatisfied #3” seems to be a healthy change of perception. the first year they got an honest comparison with anybody. lets see if it’ll be close with “number 3” or “the rest”. if they are beaten by redbull, renault and forca india they look worse than ever… i predict 1 podium. it’ll be emotional

  10. Try getting a podium first.

  11. Ha ha ha. When did McLaren start doing standup?

    1. Let me explain. It is my understanding that Red Bull has won with Renault because they are re writing/ reworking the software and engine stuff to suit their car and drivers. Unless McClaren gets a handle on that, then they will have the same engines and advantage as the factory Renault team. So if McClaren thinks that the wins will come by just using a factory Renault engine, then they are probably a little misguided.

  12. BREAKING NEWS – Mclaren say they are brilliant and will win again someday.

    Copy and paste for several years etc…

    After watching that car crash of a documentary / propaganda show on Amazon, I just felt sorry for them all in their multi million pound clinically clean office, all of them wearing branded uniforms and actually measuring the space between chairs in a meeting room to ensure that they are all evenly spaced?

    Did you see how clean the white workshops are? How the hell us anybody supposed to tinker with engines and car parts in a clinically clean and tidy space like that. It takes OCD to a whole new level.

    I hope that they have taken note that a heavily, ultra OCD approach to the workplace and insanely corporate team structure full of yes men and disingenuous marketing people has not yielded them a single victory since 2012 and they have been humiliated in the WDC standings for the past 3 years.

    I have sincere sympathy for some of their engineers at having to work in that god awful environment but it is not hard to see why they have been having to much trouble.

    Shareholders dictating racing strategy? Blaming everything squarely on Honda in a 4 part ¨documentary¨? A stifling working environment for creative engineers?

    If they don´t manage to pull it together with a different engine then I wonder what the excuse will be this time.

    1. There’ll always be excuses till the end.

    2. I don’t know the OCD theory really plays in to things. I think that’s a little over the top.

      Regarding the blame on Honda. I think the documentary took it really easy on Honda, considering the absolute shambolic delivery that Honda made. It was sad, yet hilarious to see that Honda showed up with an engine that didn’t even fit in the chassis. They then took new measurements all over again. They couldn’t get the engine fired up…. which is absolutely amateurish for any engine manufacturer. The documentary didn’t even cover the part when they realised that the shape of the oil tank was wrong…. Which is just ridiculous.

      Your kidding yourself if you think a team like McLaren has suddenly lost all their engineering talent and expertise that they have showcased over the past 40 years. I really don’t think their so called ‘OCD workplace environment’ plays in to things at all. They partnered with the wrong company.. simple as that. Now let’s wait to see whether they finish 9th again with a Renault engine for confirmation who was at fault.

      1. Yes, let´s see where they finish this year, I have no doubt that Honda provided a dog of an engine, I am not defending them either.

        But if you can´t see that the working conditions at Woking are not conducive to creativity then I don´t know what else to say to you.

        They are not carrying out Brain Surgery or building Space shuttles in there…

  13. The one thing that I hope that they do not emulate is how Red Bull threw them under the bus every time things didn’t go their way.

    I recall one of the first times that Renault caught it from Red Bull and it was from when Vettel’s car stopped on track at Valencia due to cooling issues and the alternator went out. That was ugly. I just hope that McLaren understand the lesser of the two evils concept and remember that it could be worse with Honda and that this first year they are going to have to go through some growing pains.

    1. If they do, I’m looking forward to the return of McLaren-TAG!
      I expect we’ll hear much less noise from McLaren than other teams, even the works team. McManagement has usually been diplomatic in public about current partnerships. Wonder what we’ll hear on Radio Alonso this year?

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