Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Interlagos, 2018

Vandoorne is better than he looked at McLaren – Magnussen

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In the round-up: Kevin Magnussen believes Stoffel Vandoorne is a better driver than his two seasons at McLaren made him appear.

What they say

Magnussen, who drove for McLaren in 2014, was asked for his insight on Vandoorne’s spell at the team:

It’s a very tough environment this sport. I think Stoffel is a very good driver and perhaps he was made to look worse this year than he really is. I think he’s very good and he deserves to be in Formula 1 but circumstances were just a bit shit for him.

He’s going to do well in whatever he goes to do now. And you should never say never, if you can come back to Formula 1 there’s always the possibility.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Can F1’s owners afford not to face down the biggest-spending teams?

Of course Mercedes and Ferrari and Red Bull are going to fight it. But everyone knows that a strict budget cap and more equal distribution of prize money are the only path for F1’s survival.

Letting F1 continue to be dominated by a team of 1,500 employees with a virtually unlimited budget will kill F1 in three to five years, if not sooner.

So, there’s only way Liberty can handle this if the want to F1 to survive: They have to stick to their guns and be willing to let Mercedes walk away. As great as they’ve been, I wouldn’t miss them at all.
Kenny Schachat (@Partofthepuzzle)

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  • 40 comments on “Vandoorne is better than he looked at McLaren – Magnussen”

    1. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
      17th November 2018, 0:03

      Completely agree with Prost, I can’t believe that Saward had the nerve to call F1 a meritocracy the other month.

      1. Because Lewis Hamilton’s family actually own Stevenage and a few Caribbean islands, right ?

        1. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
          17th November 2018, 0:54

          Oh don’t be silly, he’s an exception and he only made it because Mclaren took a gamble on his fantastic talent (right they were too). Cases like this are sadly too few and far apart.
          Most F1 drivers come from very wealthy backgrounds, in 2016 four of the twenty two drivers on the grid had a parent who was a former professional racing driver, 3 of those were former F1 drivers. That sort of nepotism is unheard of in sports that are true meritocracies such as football.
          The costs of karting are enormous, it gets even worse at every step up on the motorsport ladder. The people who can afford to put their kids through that are an ever dwindling group of people and that’s only going to get worse as time goes on.

          You’ve got to have parents who are loaded or at the very least, mad enough about motorsport to be willing to pay for a season in karting. If you don’t have one of those, no matter how much talent you might have, you don’t stand a chance.

          Apart from Racing Steps I can’t think of any other independent driver programmes, and I don’t think even they have got a driver into F1.

          1. I’m not arguing that Prost is wrong, I’m arguing that you only succeed on merit, hence meritocracy is correct @collettdumbletonhall

            1. You’re not arguing that at all. You’ve just thrown out the fact that Hamilton’s family wasn’t rich and called it a day. Do you think Stroll got to F1 by merit? Do you think Sirotkin got to F1 by merit?

              A single driver does not make a meritocracy. And it’s quite plain that in the majority of cases, money is a consideration at least as big as talent in determining who makes the grid.

            2. I think both @collettdumbletonhall and @hohum are correct, because they’re arguing different points. @exediron

              I believe @collettdumbletonhall is referring to how drivers arrive in F1, and it is not always the best drivers in lower series who come into F1. On the other hand, @hohum is mentioning that Hamilton’s success within F1 indicates F1 is a meritocracy, and that’s fine, money itself can’t buy you a WDC. (It also happens that Hamilton’s ascent to F1 was based on merit, so probably that’s where the confusion with the point @collettdumbletonhall made occurred)

            3. Thinking of it. Most drivers in F1 seem to be in F1 based on merit. Can’t think of any driver in the big teams who bought his way into the sport.
              And Verstappen probably only used his name to get a 24/7 coach when he was young. The name seems to hurt him more than helping him when assessing his character ;)

            4. @exediron, well, Sirotkin’s results in junior series are, if not spectacular, still pretty solid, such as his top three finishes in GP2. I know that people seem to want to paint him as an atrocious driver because he committed the sin of taking a seat that they wanted to see Kubica get, but I do feel that he is a better driver than people want to give him credit for.

            5. If it takes a significant amount of money to start (and it does – Hamilton’s background is right at the top of “working class” in Britain, though emphatically there rather than “blue-collar middle class”, at least before Anthony Hamilton left British Rail), then it is not a meritocracy. This is because many (if not the majority) of those with merit are being excluded by money before the intended meritocratic selection even starts.

              Even after beginning the racing, there is still a significant advantage to money, and anyone not bringing money had better bring connections. Neither can reasonably be considered “merit”, except in those cases where the connections didn’t come built into the family or parental friendship networks.

              Raikkonen, Hamilton and Riccardo are there on merit if the situation in the second paragraph is taken as merit. But how many of those who arrived after Riccardo can say the same? (It’s not zero, but it’s also not the majority).

            6. @alianora-la-canta, then, by your definition, no sport can possibly be meritocratic as, inevitably, there will be a point where there will be obstacles placed in the way of an individual that are beyond their control.

              Even if an aspiring driver has access to funding, they may very well then find themselves in a situation where there is a lack of other resources. Most of the current infrastructure surrounding most of the major racing series is concentrated in Europe and North America, such that by accident of birth somebody born in Europe will find it considerably easier to develop the right sort of personal connections, secure funding and to find the necessary expertise to get into the sport and to then develop as an individual in the first place – is that any more “meritocratic” when most individuals round the world will never have the means or access to even drive a race car in the first place?

          2. Ironic since there are more and more millionaires and billionaires every day.

    2. @hohum, not a fair statement.

      Prost alluded to the ELF program which would have sponsored young talented drivers in the path to F1 should they have deserved it. Lewis was a beneficiary of a such a program in Mclaren’s young driver program. Of course it did help that Lewis was supremely talented, hence he made the most of his opportunities.

      The point is that, there aren’t enough independent driver programs out there apart from those backed by manufacturers such as Merc and Ferrari.

      When you do get to F1, if you’re rubbish, you do get found out, look no further that the archetype, Lance Stroll.

      1. If Mercedes, Ferrari, and RBR have a young driver programme then we seem to have more than just a French focused ELF programme.

        1. @coldfly There were quite a few programs for drivers in those days – Marlboro funded more people and the Eddie Jordan Racing staircase was pretty well known in the 1980s. Alain’s simply citing the example he’s most familiar with (because he came through that way).

    3. On CoTD, the cost cap alone isn’t going to work, funds needs to be distributed more evenly, that’s the only way it can sort of work, obviously this is easier said than done.

      A cost cap will not work. It will be impossible to police. Big teams like Ferrari, Merc and Red Bull (which buy all their engineering resources from Red Bull Technologies) will have so many ways “hiding” expenses in different parts of their huge companies. So status quo will remain.

      1. @jaymenon10 Indeed. I entirely agree with you.

      2. @jaymenon10 I disagree. Cost cap could work, at least to some extent. But indeed it must not be alone. Prize distribution and some standard parts would certainly help too. Of course the big ones will always be at an advantage but it could well go from 2 seconds to 0.5 and that would be much more interesting.
        Cost cap also would send a good signal, and if the worst case is a status quo, what’s the fear? Let’s do it then, I’m sure it will help.

        1. I would like to think and hope that the teams know F1 needs to address many issues, and those are being addressed with Liberty now in charge. Easy? Of course not. Very very complicated. But from the vibe I get, the teams seem fairly on board that changes are needed and that Liberty wants them. I think it is easy to default to the concept that the teams will just remain sneaky and power hungry and will simply go behind Liberty’s back and try to get away with not actually being capped at all. But it just doesn’t feel like that is what would happen.

          There are ways they can cap certain things that would be easy to monitor, but I would just like to think the teams finally get that they themselves have a responsibility to chip in and help Liberty achieve their goals. And it is not like Liberty is not giving all teams their say, and that compromises are not possible. Liberty are not being dictators and they are not asking for changes that will only harm F1, but rather to improve it. If the teams were to act like this is still the BE days, they would be complicit in their own demise.

          Yes the teams, especially the big ones, have a lot of power, and could always walk, or threaten to in order to get what they want, but assuming they don’t want to forgo the massive marketing value they get from F1 they I’m sure understand that when new owners take over a company you work for, bucking everything they want to do doesn’t generally go over too well. Including sneaking behind their back and hiding things on them.

          BE put F1 where it is today, and Liberty and the teams have a golden opportunity to work together to improve on a mess. They get to do what they love and get very wealthy doing so. It would be so sad if the right improvements that Liberty wants were to be overshadowed by some stuck in the BE era of ultra greed, when they could end up playing in a better environment for themselves and the fans and still get rich and famous via a bigger and better, more enthralling F1.

          1. I would just like to think the teams finally get that they themselves have a responsibility to chip in and help Liberty achieve their goals. […] If the teams were to act like this is still the BE days, they would be complicit in their own demise.

            @robbie – I agree that the comments tend to be pessimistic about a budget cap, and whether that is due to a realistic take, or just long-term fans being pessimistic about “next year’s promises to improve the sport” is open for debate.

            That said, I would be pleasantly surprised if teams have such a mindset of the greater good, when push comes to shove. Imagine a budget cap that has Merc and Ferrari adhering to, and the FIA/FOM monitoring it with an amount of trust in the teams. Midway through a closely fought championship that Mercedes have previously won, if Ferrari find a concept that might help their car, would they not be tempted to exceed the budget cap by getting additional people in to design and shape that concept, and to virtually test it? Particularly if someone rationalizes it as “OK, it’s cheating, but we’re not stealing a championship from a poorer team, but a peer”?

            Likewise, every team can rationalize why it is acceptable for them to bend the agreed principles of the budget cap based on perceived or real gains their immediate competitor made (e.g. Red Bull continues to be hamstrung by Renault/Honda, so it’s acceptable for them to cheat to get closer to Merc and Ferrari, Renault breaches a cap because Haas are after all benefiting from Ferrari’s investment).

            There’s another point to consider – the teams have realized once again that it is them (collectively) versus Liberty, hence the recent occurrence of regular meetings (it’s another matter that they don’t seem to reach any meaningful consensus). Liberty are doing things like trying to expand the calendar, and boost their revenues to show a return and reduce debt, but are pitching these things as noble endeavours towards improving the sport (thereby indirectly casting anyone who doesn’t sign on as being selfish and against the greater good).

            So, this definitely looks like it has a nice amount of complexity involved due to the various stakeholders involved, and will make an interesting story to read somewhere down the line :-)

    4. What I’d love to see…

      Cost cap, staff and resources cap, more equal distribution of prize money. Standardise design for ‘non-performance’ areas that most fans aren’t interested in. Allow conditions for 13 healthy teams, 26 drivers.

      Deliberately tweak the chassis rules each year and release these later in the season to reduce available development time and reduce the benefit of endless R&D. Make the release of next years rules package an ‘event’.

      With more equality between the teams, the ‘performance areas’ of the rules and regs can be opened up to allow more ingenuity and difference.

      A true design and engineering championship fought on an equal footing, not simply who is the biggest and wealthiest.

      If this was the structure of F1 then I think most ppl couldn’t care less if Mercedes was part of if or not…

      1. I disagree about tweaking the rules as an event each year. If the rules were fairly static for several years the lower teams would catch up as they copied the bigger teams. I think the chassis rules should only change for safety reasons; if there is a clear loophole some team is exploiting; or if evidence is firm that it will make racing better, ie less dirty air affecting the ability to overtake.

        I agree with the more equal distribution of prize money – perhaps dependent on finishing positions within each race, rather than end of season. Last place and non-finishers get nothing in that race (unless they were taken out by the actions of a competitor), everyone else a diminishing proportion of the prize. This would make it less likely a team would end the season with no prize money at all, and no-one would get prize money simply for turning up. A proportion of the prize money would be retained as end of season prize money for the top three teams of the year. That would encourage everyone to work on reliability overall and make racing all the way down the pack important at every race.

        I also agree on a cost cap – and (in response to others above) I don’t accept that difficulty of policing is an excuse for not doing it. Imagine if that rationale was used in crime fighting – it is tricky to catch burglars, so burglary is no longer a crime! Perhaps big teams would still try and work around the cap (I know definitely rather than perhaps), but when caught they should have a huge fine, with the money used to support a young drivers’ program.

        Further, so long as teams stayed within the overall cost cap I would allow a more generous engine allowance, no maximum fuel limit, along with tyres that could be pushed flat out on, and then we might see less conserving of engine, tyres and fuel.

    5. I wouldn’t miss Mercedes either. Works teams come and go whenever it’s convenient for their branding exercise.
      Now if independent teams like McLaren or Williams were to disappear from the grid then I would miss them, purely for the act that they are true racing teams and are in it not just to promote a manufacturer.

      1. Sure, no Mercedes would be great if you were a Ferrari fan.

        1. PS: Brabham, Lotus, BRM, March, Cooper, Vanwall, American Eagle, all true racing teams, all gone.

      2. @yoshif8tures, except that McLaren is now an autmotive manufacturer, and of course for several decades the team was effectively the corporate face of Mercedes in the sport.

        1. I’m inclined to disagree that works teams come and go ‘at their convenience.’ It is a massive commitment to join F1 and a lot of expenditure to risk in hopes of getting F1 money back and have the marketing impact of being in F1 pay off at the end of the day. It is likely no easy decision to get out either. Of course superficially one could assume they no longer have the expense of being in F1, but then they no longer have the marketing impact. Of course I suppose sometimes the decision isn’t so tough and is strictly a business one if an entity no longer feels marketing impact from being in F1.

          Example, I believe that Pirelli, were they to make proper tires that weren’t the main story of each race, and thus tires were much less the topic, would feel a decline in marketing impact of being in F1. When Michelin and Bridgestone were making proper tires, they still got a lot of air play because it was always pointed out which team was on which tires. This is why Michelin has said they preferred to have a competing tire maker in F1…so we’d still talk about tires even though they weren’t the overwhelming storyline.

    6. It weighs just 590 grammes, and McLaren reckons this is at least 10 percent lighter than any other suit. While this may not mean racers can now gorge on burgers and fries, they may now be able to have that extra piece of toast at breafast.

      And people say McLaren aren’t at the sharp end of innovation any more.

    7. I agree with Magnussen as well as with Prost in principle.
      – Interesting COTD as well as the

      1. I forgot to add: From the F1i-article:
        “Toto Wolff criticized Renault, but why didn’t he replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes with Ocon.” – Good question.

        1. Was it not that Toto was happy with BOT (as wingman…) and had ‘arranged’ for Renault to take OCO… so Merc re-signed BOT, who was perhaps getting ‘worried’… Then Renault managed to snaffle RIC, and changed from what Toto had expected… Perfectly natural for Renault to prefer RIC.
          OCO suffers, and Toto is cross, because he got… er… how shall we describe it…? ‘Shafted’…? [sorry, my thesaurus isn’t helping me today.]

          Toto/OCO/Renault had an agreement – that’s all – no actually signed contract. Maybe Toto signed BOT too soon… Can’t blame Renault… and certainly not RIC… ImHo.

    8. I think it’s safe to say pretty much every driver was better than they looked at McLaren. Maybe even Kovalainen.

    9. I think McLaren aren’t good at using two strong drivers – they tend to work best focusing all their strength behind one. Kovalainen, Perez, Magnussen & Vandoorne are all pretty decent drivers but they didn’t seem to have the support that Hamilton, Button or Alonso got and when their performances dipped, instead of helping them McLaren ditched them. I guess we’ll see pretty quick whether they throw more support behind Sainz or Norris.

      Regarding Verstappen/Sainz… I’m sure they get along fine but their parents/entourage probably don’t.

      1. But why does everybody keep hyping Stoff amd not the others? The step to F1 was too big for him, he didn’t handle it well and so he is without a seat for next year, seems faie to me. His 2nd year was worse than the 1st, the conclusion should be that he isn’t up to it.

        When you have a season that is comparable to Lance Stroll in better machinery I think we don’t need to say much more.

    10. Bottas should watch Danica Patrick interview. He should start to think about his chances and stop being a wingman.

      1. I take your point but I would like to think he wouldn’t need to see her interview to get what you mean. He knows he has to come out of the gate beating LH and all others if he wants to secure the right to not be ordered to stand pat and let LH go. And he has also witnessed the LH/NR years and knows the task is not easy and the gloves would have to come off and the lovey dovey atmosphere set aside. LH will not take being beaten sitting down, if it came to that. But unlike how Danica felt, I do think VB is supported on the team to try to win. TW would prefer both his drivers locking out the front row as much as possible ala LH/NR, but as we know that means a rivalry too. That would be great.

        1. I don’t think Bottas understand or at least showing that he acknowledged that next year could be his last.

    11. I really like that F3 photo

      1. Doesn’t look real to me though. (Maybe I’m wrong?) The tyre surfaces look too uniform, for example.

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