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18 Jul 2017
The curious case of Silverstone


At the season's halfway point Silverstone represents a significant milestone in the battle for the 2017 championships. Mercedes have extended their lead in the battle for the constructors title over their Italian counterparts, whilst the gap between Vettel and Hamilton is down to just one point. Once again tyre failures played a significant role in the outcome of the British GP and now the attention turns to Pirelli as the tyre manufacturer investigates the cause of Ferrari’s issues in the closing laps of what was a fraught Grand Prix for the Scuderia.

Silverstone was always going to be a challenge when it came to tyres, given the increased demands, as the 150mph barrier was broken in terms of average lap speed and lateral loads in excess of 5g were sustained.  The high-speed clockwise nature of the circuit puts the left-front tyre through extreme torture as the tyre’s shoulder is heated up and whilst the early safety car to clear Sainz’s car swung strategy toward a one-stop race it came with the risk of pushing the tyre into an uncomfortable window.

Ferrari found themselves between a rock and hard place early on as Vettel was unable to clear Verstappen in wheel-to-wheel combat, forcing the team to box the German earlier than was ideally planned.  This allowed them to clear the Dutchman during the pitstop as he lost out through time stopped in the box and the advancement of Vettel as the undercut allowed him to take some life out of the fresh tyres and lap time out of Verstappen. Stopping on lap 18 was an extreme compromise for Ferrari though, with the pitwall knowing that their driver would now have to eek out the life of the tyre for 33 grueling laps save any climatic changes that may call for a set of wet weather tyres.

It could be argued that their undoing was racing the Red Bull rather than being mindful of the charging Finn behind, as Bottas at the wheel of his W08 started the race out of position and on a contra tyre strategy to those around him. Knowing he’d take a five place grid penalty it was decided that Bottas would try to squeeze through Q2 in qualifying on the soft tyre, which of course is used as your race tyre should you make it to Q3.

Bottas’ first stint was impressive using the clean air afforded by the other drivers making their pitstops to be second on the track but a net fourth come his own pitstop at the of lap 32.  This paved the way for an even more impressive drive through the field to claim second place, passing Vettel en route and may have caught Raikkonen on track at the end of the race had it not been for the Ferrari drivers tyre delamination.

What Bottas’ race and to a slightly lesser extent - Daniel Ricciardo’s first stint proves is that although the soft tyre is considered the better race tyre, ie it should be able to go further in a race whilst providing little drop-off, this is extremely setup and temperature specific.  One thing that jumps out to me at this point is the known temperature working ranges for each compound of tyre. The soft tyre is classified as a high working range compound, at its best somewhere between 110-140oC, whilst the super soft tyre is in the low working range, performing at its best between 85-115oC. It would appear that on that given day, with the loads being generated that the super soft was actually the better race tyre - of course this was complimented by the W08 and RB13 chassis’ which appear to have flourished in the hands of their respective drivers.  

Much of this, in my opinion, can be put down to the way in which each car’s concept suited the demands of Silverstone something I covered in detail for Motorsport.com earlier in the season - https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/tech-analysis-the-concepts-that-split-mercedes-ferrari-and-red-bull-882735/. Perhaps the biggest takeaway though is how the disadvantage that many have talked about in the opening stages of the season - in terms of Mercedes longer wheelbase perhaps played into their hands here, with the elongated W08’s kinematics allowing them to maintain the optimum core temperature in the tyres over both stints.

This is a topic that we’ve circling for several races now with the shorter wheelbase Ferrari clearly more adept at bringing the tyres up to temperature and maintaining it on the low to mid speed circuits to maximise performance.  However, at Silverstone they were just on the wrong side of the curve, perhaps not helped by the team feeling the need to chase a slightly lower downforce configuration - utilising the ‘spoon’ shaped rear wing they ran in Baku, having initially pursued a setup with the conventionally shaped rear wing.


Turning our attention back to Ferrari, Pirelli have already stated that the issues faced by Raikkonen and Vettel are different in composition, mainly owing to the fact that Kimi’s tyre did not deflate, rather the tread platform began to break up.  As we can see from the onboard both front tyres were heavily marked, with the graining caused by load and temperature spikes building on the tyres surface and edging toward the inner shoulder. The left-front tyre had already begun to unravel on the lead up to the Wellington straight with a frayed edge pulling the tread away from the carcase (red arrow).

On lap 45 FOM played in a message from Vettel to the pitwall -
“I have no more fronts, they’ve been blistering for twenty laps - I have zero fronts”




This was a problem exacerbated by his wheel-to-wheel duel with Bottas as the Ferrari driver locked up in defence of his position, dramatically heating up the tyres and further blistering the tyres surface. Now they say an image is worth a thousand words so I’ll use the GIF stolen from the depths of Reddit in order to illustrate what I’m talking about here - the tyre receives a great deal of energy in a very short burst as it under rotates and then locks, this is disastrous when we consider how finely balanced the tyre temperature eco-system is, creating a sort of seesaw that is difficult to reign in once in motion.  

 
The next few corners are critical after such an event as the driver must move gingerly as he tries to reduce the tyres core temperature which has increased due to the spike in surface temperature. This inevitably leads to a loss in apex speed and lap time and in Vettel’s case it was compounded by the fact that Bottas was still applying pressure and Vettel didn’t want to yield the position. 

Ultimately I suspect Pirelli's findings will suggest it was a combination of factors that lead to Vettel’s tyre issue, all of which centre around the creation of surface blisters from overheating the tread’s surface, leading to a loss of pressure as the blister continued to open up. Raikkonen's issue isn't so cut and dry, given the way in which the tyre let go but again I think the focus will remain on their setup when compared with those around them, with the tyres graining toward the inner shoulder due to suspension and chassis settings unique to them, which as you'll note from the GIF above is heated more aggressively due to the camber angle run by F1 teams.

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16 Jun 2017
Kubica on the comeback trail?..

 
Robert Kubica, an F1 champion in waiting, or at least he was until that fateful rally crash that injured his arm and prevented him from piloting a single seater, well, until recently anyway. The Polish driver has an army of fans, likely due to the plucky underdog persona that he carried around for several years - although that would likely have been cast aside had he worn the scarlet overalls aboard a prancing horse as has been suggested, partnering his long time friend Fernando Alonso.

Robert was meant for greater things in an F1 sense and although he's driven a myriad of other machines, including rally GT and LMP1 cars he still felt like he had unfinished business with single-seaters, especially as the doctors essentially told him it would never happen. Mobility of the arm within the confines of the cockpit were isolated as the main reaseon, but the Pole became steadfast in his quest to slay the dragon and once again climb aboard the machines that have dominated his racing life.


In April of this year he went about a private test that set the scene for a momentous occasion that took part last week but, this first outing cannot be underestimated as he piloted a GP3 car for 70 laps around Franciacorta Circuit, a task that should not be overlooked given GP3 cars lack power steering.  He had the following to say about the experience:

“I'm back on the water where I swam for many years, and I must say the feeling is great,” said Kubica, who described the experience as “truly wonderful”.

“I was surprised, because after so long the feeling with the asphalt and the feelings I remember are back afloat. Of course there were a lot of things that I can do better.

“On the physical front and preparing many aspects you can improve, but my limits are at a good point.”

Just a month after his GP3 foray he stepped into a Formula-E car for the first time, at another private test in Donnington. It's unclear how that test went or how many laps were completed but it's fair to say that he garnered interest from several teams within the sport - especially as numerous teams need a substitute driver to compete at the Brooklyn E-Prix due to their drivers having other commitments. Of course, Bob’s alignment with Renault does put him in the box seat for Buemi’s seat but by all accounts he's passed up the opportunity as he continues to chase his dream of returning to F1.

The Polish driver has been out of the cockpit for six years now and at 32 would already be considered to be in the twilight of his career but, it appears he's not done with Formula One - he has an itch he needs to scratch and it appears he could still be competitive too. In fact word on the street is that the at the test conducted last week, in a Lotus E20, at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia he was actually rather rapid, faster than a certain Russian who was also in attendance…


He completed 115 laps during the private test, yes, you read that correctly 115! and these were not slow laps, this was a race weekends work in a single session, as he completed qualifying runs, practice starts and a race simulation.

Alan Permane: Sporting Director - Renault F1

“It was good to see Robert back in a Formula 1 car. It was a smooth day. We tried to condense a Grand Prix weekend into one day, which was interesting for him. Robert has changed a little, he is more mellow and he wasn’t as pushy when asking for every detail about the set-up of the car! His comments and feedback, however, were like turning the clock back for all of us. It is a tricky thing to jump into an F1 car after six years and it was a great performance from him. This was a one-off event for Robert. His time with Renault was cut short so abruptly and we perceived such a nice future with him. The team was in Valencia testing with Sergey Sirotkin, so it was the perfect opportunity to offer Robert a day in the car and contribute in our way to his recovery.”

The test put Bob back in the mind of many, and given the fact he was able to turn so many laps in what was considered to be a competitive test scenario it's of no surprise that he's now being linked with numerous teams and situations.  In fact Sky Sports (UK) broadcast a Skype interview they conducted with him in the run up to the Canadian GP.

Then, two nights ago he appeared on Polish television, providing a 40 minute interview to Eleven Sports - the national F1 broadcaster. Friend of the site F1Talks has created a transcript of the interview over on his site (here in full: http://www.f1talks.pl/2017/06/15/kubica-i-have-a-plan-in-my-head/), which I urge you to read but here's what was said with some further tweaks from me.

Robert on his test of the Lotus E20 in Valencia: 

"It was a really emotional moment and I felt like a little boy, like starting from zero. On the other hand I’m older and it’s getting harder to get some sleep than it was 15 years ago. Emotions were on high level and sensations stayed with me to this point and will stay a little bit longer.
The last few years were full of different type of 'events' on a sporting side. My rally debut was quite emotional but it was related to a new experience and learning process. To test an F1 car after six years was a big thing but I have to say I thought I'd be worse - harder to keep my emotions under control. Being back in F1 car cockpit was like 'going back home', like going back to my daily job. The test it was not a race or race weekend but I was trying to do my own thing and do things the way only I can.
One of the best moments of that day were the first laps behind the steering wheel – to feel everything is under control like there was no break [in my career]. It was one of the biggest shocks [for me] behind the wheel and a really positive moment. After six years without racing [in F1] and with my limitations there were a lot of question marks. I’m the type of person that always wants to have everything under control and during the test I was able to get to that point quite quickly. I felt very confident behind the wheel. It wasn’t the same cockpit that I left [in 2011] but many thing there were still similar to what I wanted to use, designed or changed during my last season and it helped. It was a nice 'welcome'. It felt like i was at home, everything looked familiar and I got familiar feelings. I don’t want to go to much into the details but it was like that cockpit was made just for me. Many things stayed like it was [in 2011, making it easier to get along with]."
How did you get ready for the test?
"To be honest I had to do quite a lot of work to be prepared and my physical form has never been as good as it is now – even in the 'golden times' of my F1 career. My hard work helped a lot. I was ready for everything, although many things were beyond my control until that day.  It turned out it wasn’t so scary and it was not as far as it might seem before the test. It’s quite close and being honest I can say that this F1 car was the most conducive to drive from all of the cars that I have driven after my the accident, with my limitations.  It’s a nice surprise."
Does this mean you're coming back to F1?
"It’s not the message. When I have a target I will do everything to reach it. This F1 car test was my target for last 16 months. I did it. As I said there were a lot of question marks. Now I have almost all the answers – positive answers.  I don’t know what future will bring, I’m still doing my thing – training hard. Today my bathroom scale showed that my weight is at a record low. It wasn’t that low even in 'golden times' - in 2008 when I was quite slim. I’m in good shape and that is the most important thing but there is also a sacrifice, an enthusiasm for work so we will see what the future will bring.
There is a lot of work to do but not as much as it might seem before the tests. From a physical form point of view it's better than I could expect in the best scenarios. If we are talking about my feelings in the car, in the last few years I learned a lot about the human brain and how limitless it is, and first three laps in Valencia looked like I was out of the car only for a month - I felt that from behind the wheel, I saw that in my driving and it was one of the best moments, some of the best news I've gotten in the last few years.
You need to work every day. If you think you reached the target it’s a moment when you are going down. I will continue my work and it all depands on my sporting targets and where I will go. Fans’ imagination and expections – people from motorsport and F1 – just woke up after the tests. I can now sleep very calmly because I know I can drive F1 car and I’m able do do it fast and consistently and I don’t feel and big problems coming from my limitations. What will be in the future? Where I will appear? what will be a main target for me? I don’t know, but I’m still working, just like in last 12 months, in full swing and I will try to do it step by step. The most important thing is to use what I was able to build in last few months and calmly wait for another target that I will be able to reach in the future."
How do you feel the test went?
"I think lap times are not so important. I could use thousands word to describe the test but I think the best summary for a whole test came from the guy who worked with me in 2010 – he was close to me in the team – and was in Valencia that day. He said one sentence describing everything: "The most important thing is you are still F1 driver.” It’s not reality, I’m not on the grid, but to hear that kind of words from the guy who saw many great drivers – also was with me in 2010 – means a lot. It’s a great feeling. 
From the other side we should stay calm and don’t try to think what will happen. Time will tell. People didn’t give me a lot of chance to be back in F1 car and I did it – I did it in style in my opinion. It’s not about lap times. It was just a matter of time – five or fifty laps – to get there. I wanted to check that I am able to drive a car at the same level as before and I was. I don’t want to say how many laps I needed to be find the pace. That afternoon conditions were difficult. Track temperature was far above 60C so tyre degradation was high. It was one of my first tests with Pirelli tyres (In 2010, Kubica's last season the sport still used Bridgestone tyres) – it was new for me – and long stints, with the car full of fuel wasn’t easy but I was consistent. To learn all the little bits were important."

There has been question marks over the test car used, seeing as it wasn't one from the hybrid generation, do you have anything to say about that?

"To be honest I don’t think [I will have any problems with new cars]. New cars are faster in the corners but it’s not a big difference compared to 2012 cars. New cars are faster than last year’s cars or cars from the penultimate season when downforce was reduced. Lap times were low but time was gained mostly on the straights and the corners were slow. Now old standards are back. Speeds in the corners are similar to 2008, so after 10 years the situation has changed. Taking the corner 5 or 10 km/h faster, it’s not a problem and I’m quite calm about that. If I will get a chance to test a 'new generation' car I don’t think it will be problem form me. Of course I will have to learn many things, to learn new parts but it’s just a matter of time. If I get a chance I will do the job as well as I can and I will try to learn as much as I can, but it’s beyond my control."
"I knew it [the test] would generate a lot of attention. It’s nice how people are talking about me. Looks like I’m not too bad, as some people and some journalists are describing me. Some people still appreciate the work I did in the past when I was racing in F1. There are not many people left in Sauber from my era but in Renault there are still a lot of people that I worked with and I think if they didn’t have good memories this test would not have happened. I don't think it was a coincidence - In the last two years I wasn’t involved in any serious racing program and many people didn’t understand that. I can’t say that my plan was confirmed in every detail. I had difficult moments, when I was almost sure I will be a part of different racing programs but it didn’t materialize. If I have to be honest now I do not regret it. One day in F1 car and a chance to feel again what I was loving and I still love, what is my passion, gave me much more and I would never change it for anything else. So you shouldn’t give up and you should do your thing and believe."
Robert, what do you think of the 'current F1' in regard to tyres, DRS and no refueling?
"F1 has changed it’s image, not only from cars point of view but also in racing aspect. I wasn’t on the track for last six years and people are saying that was only 2012 car. It’s a fact but the other fact is that those cars weren't that slow either.  It’s 2017 now and I think F1 is on the good path. It wasn’t so exclusive from cars point of view. It’s not about how many motorhomes we have and how the hospitality units look in the paddock but to see the smile on drivers’ faces and to give them a chance to race on the limit to fight for every inch.  In last the last few seasons it was quite different - I know that from the simulator and that sometimes races were won with laps that were 2 seconds slower than they could be. It was all about tyre degradation and to keep them in a good shape for many laps. It wasn’t a proper fight for thousands of seconds but one of calculation. There is sill a little bit of that but a huge step forward was made and I think it’s a good direction."
"The environment is now much better and many drivers like it much more than in previous seasons. The most important thing is drivers are once again in a fight for every thousand of a second and they are working to make the car a bit faster. This is why we see one week one driver has more problems and a week later someone else is struggling. We are again in that place when you need to work to optimize your package. Of course tyres are still playing a big role, almost all the drivers are struggling to put the tyres in the optimal window. Tyres are harder than last year and for the drivers like me and for some of my friends in the paddock this is a positive thing."
"I wasn’t a fan of DRS and I didn’t have a chance to race with it. My last test in Valencia in 2011 was a debut of DRS. I will not even call it overtaking, it was just bypassing the slower car.  Last season there were a lot of cat and mouse games and even if the driver had a chance to make a move a corner before [DRS zone] during the braking it was better to wait, not to take a risk to destroy the tyres. DRS gives you a chance to minimize the risk or even decrease it to zero and use the higher speed. DRS is still there, zones changed a little bit, new cars are wider, it’s not a problem on most tracks, but as we saw in Monaco it made the drivers lives a little bit complicated. It’s not easy to feel the car’s width and drivers have to get used to it.  As I said tyres let them do a bit more and it’s the best change that F1 made this year."
"I think [refueling] won’t appear again. My last season with refueling was 2009 and I think it would change racing – put it closer to sprint races with more different strategies. It would make racing more interesting but on the other hand more complicated on the operational side. For some reason refueling was banned and I think F1 won’t go that path again but as I said I hope I’m wrong."
Robert, what do you think of the new tracks and the 2017 season?
"I only saw the track in Baku on TV, it’s an interesting street circuit so the margin for error is quite small and I like this kind of track - I’m a fan of it so I would like to race there. From a fans perspective you want even more races but from the driver’s point of view there is a limit. It’s not even about the drivers but about the teams. Costs are huge, in the past there were two teams inside the team – one for the testing and there were more mechanics and now there are some limits. Although big teams, not officially, still have more people and kind of two teams. We have to remember that F1 is more than only the top three teams. We have small teams working really hard to be on the grid in Australia. We need to see the whole picture and think about everyone."
"It’s an interesting season and we had a signs of this during the tests in Barcelona. Test are not always a good reference point but first part of the season showed that we would have a close racing. In my opinion the main roles will not only be played by Hamilton and Vettel but by 'number 2' drivers – Raikkonen and Bottas. In the second part of the season they will play an important role in this fight."
You're still good friends with Fernando so what do you think of the issues he currently faces?
"Talking about Fernando’s season it’s not about 'if' but 'when'. I will make it straight: I do not envy him. As I said before I'm looking at it differently from the outside. In every team, sooner or later there are some problems, situations that no one in the team want to be a part of. Conflicts are inevitable. It’s not a good situation for the driver, for McLaren, for Honda and even for F1. I hope that one day they will be able overcome this situation – hope dies last – I wish them all the best. Fernando is the best or one of the best drivers and he showed it even during this season but to be competitive you also need a good package and he’s missing it for several seasons."
Who'd you like to race with?
"I would like to race with every driver (huge smile) so I don’t have any preferences. It’s hard to say who’s similar driver to me because every driver has his own unique style. Verstappen is phenomenal. Last year he wasn’t irresponsible, he was in the position where you can take some risk. He doesn’t have a car to fight for the tittle so he’s trying to take every opportunity as much as he can. He can do a lot. His win in Barcelona – I’m not emotional guy – but when I put myself in his cockpit and looked at this from F1 perspective I think it’s a great piece of history. When I’m thinking how he made it and about the time he had to do this and what road he went down and how mature driver he is, I have goosebumps. He was a revelation of last year."
What did you think of Fernando going to Indy?
"I think Fernando had only one target going to Indianapolis and he was quite close enough to reach it. For me it wasn’t a surprise he was fighting for the win in this race. Don’t get me wrong, drivers racing in America… We are talking about one of the best drivers in F1 and motorsport history and that’s the reality. It’s all about the skill and we have to be realists. It’s not easy to go into the 'unknown' but we are talking about one of the most talented drivers and I’m not talking about last 10 or 15 years but about the sports history. It’s quite simple and that’s reality."
So, what will the future bring?
"I have a plan in my head. I can write many different scenarios but many things happened in my life during last six years and to be honest many things changed also inside of me. I will be working to reach my targets – targets that I’m able to reach. I will try to make it happen. It’s too early to talk about the future, what will happen, I don’t know what will happen. I know only one thing and I’m in full control of this. I will be preparing to reach the highest goals. Three months ago my target was to test an F1 car and I think I prepared really well. What is my new target? It would sound stupid if I would say I have no new targets. I got a huge boost after Valencia and I my self confidence is much higher now, I know how my limitations are influencing my driving and that’s positive aspect. What will the future bring? It’s beyond me. 
Perhaps a vacant seat will appear at McLaren?...
"These days you can not be picky - It’s a joke. I don’t know if it will be F1 or something else. I'm working on several projects, I’m part of some projects that will see the light in the future so we will see."

I'll be keeping a keen eye on the developments surrounding the Polish drivers potential re-entry to the sport and understand that he'll pilot a car for Renault at this years Goodwood Festival of Speed.  Who know's though, could he take part in the next in-season test too? or could he, as others are suggesting, replace Palmer before the season is out? Especially since we've now past the only real sticking point on the calender in reference to his cockpit mobility: Monaco.
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14 Jun 2017
Are McLaren & Mercedes about to wind back the clock?..

Paddock whispers are a wonderful thing and it only takes someone to sit with the wrong person at lunch for everyone to jump to a conclusion.  But, in this case there probably isn't smoke without fire, as it seems McLaren are seriously assessing their options for 2018.


Don't get me wrong the situation with Honda is dire, Alonso’s retirement at the end of the Canadian GP that would have seen the team score their first points of the season may end up being the final nail in the coffin.  However, there are numerous moving parts in making a switch to Mercedes powerunits for 2018, as now seems to be the want of Mansour Ojjeh at least.  

Firstly, what of the relationship with Honda? Is it recoverable? do they promise a switchback for 2019, seeing as the manufacturer is now locked into a deal with Sauber for next season - allowing a continued development cycle.  Again, this appears to be a route that might be favored by all parties as McLaren and Honda look to save face and appease their two time world champion - Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard is desperate to join the battle with Hamilton and Vettel and frankly, with no disrespect to any of the other teams, aside from Red Bull his best shot likely resides with his current team if they were supplied a competitive powerunit and immediately got things hooked up.  But is it that simple? The resounding answer from a technical perspective is no, as you can argue all you like about how mighty the MCL32’s chassis is, but without decent integration of the powerunit you could still be facing a deficit.  McLaren were with Mercedes at the start of the hybrid era and although that is unrepresentative in terms of the overall package, as their aero is now on par with the lead teams, you have to look at the fact they still struggled...

So, what causes these issues?  

Installation and integration is the first piece of the puzzle and as such we can take Mercedes as the example, with this one of the main differences between ‘works’ and customer teams.  Mercedes have, since the start of the hybrid era operated with an air-liquid-air chargecooler arrangement, whereas all of the customer teams including McLaren in 2014, Manor in 2016 and both Force India and Williams have used an air-to-air intercooler throughout their tenure.  It remains a mystery as to why this is the case, as from a packaging point of view it is a no brainer to run the same as the works team, allowing smaller radiators in the sidepods for cooling the ICE/chargecooler, whilst the chargecooler itself can sit within a recess between the fuel cell and powerunit, changing the length of the boost tract - improving the delivery of power and reducing losses in the system

Fuel - McLaren ran ExxonMobil fuel and lubricants up until this season, a partnership that has spanned several decades and likely caused them a fair share of headaches in 2014 given the special relationship that Mercedes and Petronas had and continue to share.  McLaren have switched to Castrol/BP this season as the petroleum giant re-entered the sport with the Woking based squad, whilst supplying their fuel and lubricants to Renault too.  It’s probably fair to say that Honda can appease the obligations in this deal by simply switching it out with Saubers requirement, leaving McLaren picking up the fuel tab with Mercedes / Petronas - the former often brokering the deal, as we found out when Manor were dissolved.

Boxing clever - McLaren have built their own gearboxes for years and will likely continue to do so but if they’re to make a smooth transition from one powerunit to another, especially if it’s only for one season, they might be better to seek the Mercedes solution that Force India also take as part of their supply package.  Infact having joined the Grove based squad, Paddy Lowe has reportedly greenlit a carbon fibre constructed gearbox as the team look to make mid-late season gains from increased structural rigidity and a resultant weight saving.

Counting the cost - Perhaps the largest hurdle that is faced in achieving this one season stop-gap is funding it.  Alonso’s contract expires at the end of this season and Honda currently contribute a significant portion of the team's budget, including the Spaniard’s wages.  Would Honda be prepared to make the bold step of continuing this funding in a transitional year though? Especially if success returns to Woking it would be Mercedes that would pick up the plaudits within the media and potentially lead to a full-blown divorce, irrespective of any improvements that Honda may be able to make next season with Sauber.

Going forward

Time - Making such a change requires planning, something that'll require a huge amount of effort and likely compromise their development cycle toward the end of the season.

Honda improvement - joining the hybrid era around three years behind the curve was always going to be a huge challenge for the Japanese marque, but even so they’ve often seemed to be off kilter with the development mindset of others, initially refusing outside assistance and then an almost singular focus in the tools used to develop these hugely complex energy machines.  I’ve said it numerous times since (one such time in 2015: http://www.somersf1.co.uk/2015/09/mclaren-hondas-woes-progression-and.html) their re-entry but they must look at the tools being used by the other top teams, of which an AVL style chassis dynamomter must be at the top of their shopping list - something I understand is underway and can’t come soon enough as we’ve recently heard that they have correlation issues too.

Whatever happens in 2018 the situation at McLaren is and has had a major impact on sponsorship retention and activation - something Zak Brown will be eager to remedy.  Their Indy 500 adventure is further proof of this with their sponsors able to enjoy exposure for no extra cost - an olive branch extended to them for the poor performance of the F1 team and a shrewd move by Brown.

The biggest issue of this supposed alliance of convenience (McLaren, Honda and Mercedes) is that the date for which you must notify the FIA of your intention to supply a team has passed.  Appendix 9 suggests that the FIA must be notified by 6th May in the preceding year or an agreement must be reached by the remaining powerunit manufacturers.  I can certainly see an objection coming from Ferrari or Renault, especially if they have any inclination that this will help to elevate McLaren beyond them.

If you're in need of something to listen to on your commute into work then give my show on Missed Apex a try - here's the latest one.
 
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31 May 2017
Competition - McLaren: The untold story

I have three copies of McLaren: The untold story on DVD up for grabs and all you need to do is head over to twitter, make sure you're following me and RT the post below.  I'll pick three winners at random on Friday 2nd June, but please be aware the competition is only open to UK entrants.



For those that haven't heard about this incredible film directed by Roger Donaldson (Thirteen Days, The World’s Fastest Indian) it's the tale of one of New Zealand’s most treasured sons and the father of one of Britain’s most cherished motor racing empires, McLaren is a compelling ode to never giving up on a dream.



Produced by Matthew Metcalfe (Beyond The Edge, The Free Man) and Fraser Brown (Orphans and Kingdoms), the film features contributions from Emerson Fittipaldi, Alastair Caldwell, Chris Amon, Howden Ganley, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Lothar Motshchenbacher and Sir Jackie Stewart and unprecedented access to the McLaren family and archives. The story of the favourite son of two nations, a much-loved father and one of motor racing’s greatest icons, McLaren is a tale of human endeavour for the ages.



For more information

Website: www.mclarenfilm.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/McLarenFilmOfficial

#McLarenFilm

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Whilst I'm trying to keep atop of the blog you may have noticed of late that there is less content appearing. For those of you that haven't realised, most of my work has now been moved over to Motorsport.com where I'm working with Giorgio Piola.

As some of you may have found out already I'm also working with the Missed Apex crew on their podcast from time-to-time, either doing race reviews or dedicated 'Tech Time' shows.

I've embedded the latest version of the podcast below and will update this a frequently as I appear. However, please head over to Itunes if you want it to appear in your player when episodes are available. The show is great to work on and has a great lineup of 'regulars' but has also enticed some bigger names recently too, with Will Buxton and Bradley Philpot on shows during the summer break.

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