McLaren, Shanghai International Circuit, 2015

McLaren-Honda relationship improving – Boullier

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McLaren, Shanghai International Circuit, 2015In the round-up: Eric Boullier says that the relationship between McLaren and Honda is starting to become more harmonious.


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McLaren F1 team making strides in its understanding with Honda (Autosport)

"There are a lot of cultural differences, and I think it is more about McLaren understanding the strategy and commitment of Honda and make sure we fit it into our world rather than expecting them to come to our culture. The move was more to be made by us and I think that the co-operation we have started at every level is paying off."

Rob Smedley targets faster rate of development at Williams (ESPN)

"We've had four races now and it's quite clear what the order is. We've got some upgrades coming for Barcelona. I think it will be a fair old challenge to catch (Ferrari) back up, especially in terms of race pace, by Barcelona, but the target is that we'll catch them back up."

Christian Horner Q&A: No short-term fixes for Red Bull (

"But to be realistic: our problems are not short term so there will not be any short-term fixes. We have to take a bit of a pain at the moment. And if that is the foundation for a better future then you’ve got to take the pain."

Analysis: Why engines are an easy scapegoat for F1 woes (

"F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone likes to place the blame for falling spectator numbers squarely at the feet of the current V6 turbo engines. This conveniently overlooks the 30 percent decline over the past five years that includes a four-year period when the sport was powered by the V8s he is so keen to restore."

As GP2 turns 10 years old, where is the Class of ’05 now? (NBC)

"Rosberg is the best-known member of the GP2 debutants in 2005. After winning the inaugural title, he joined Williams for the 2006 F1 season. After five years, he secured a switch to Mercedes, with whom he finished as the runner-up in last year’s world championship behind teammate Lewis Hamilton."

Ayrton Senna's Toleman-Hart F1 (Prindiville)

"Prindiville is now privileged to have the genuine Senna Toleman-Hart TG184-2 for sale in its London showroom. This iconic piece of Formula 1 history has proven provenance and its previous owners include ex-F1 star Stefan Johansson."

Jenson Button vs Greg James... Tricycle (Radio 1 via YouTube)


Comment of the day

With teams having agreed to vote for a fifth engine allowance for this season some argue that this tinkering of the rules mid-season reflects negatively on the sport. On the other hand, @koosoos disagrees…

This is exactly what makes F1 so interesting. It is all out team battle to win. Team principals how have to fight to get the regs in their favor. Designers how have to design the best car to the regs his team principal could get them and the driver and track side team have to get the best out of the car the designer designed. That is what makes F1 so great. The end the race is only the showpiece where you see everything come together. If the team principal was good enough to get the other teams to agree to a rule change that will benefit his team then he did a great job. F1 is a sport where there is no inch given, I will even go so far as to call it a cut-throat sport. Where if you are weak you will die.
This is why it is for me the best sport on the planet. Everything the team does from top to bottom has consensuses.

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  • 61 comments on “McLaren-Honda relationship improving – Boullier”

    1. I never enjoyed the V8 and so I’m glad the V6 configuration is here to stay. I know why the V8 are better than the V6 for the show but I would also point out that the loss in viewership during the V8 era was minimal if you account the cable deals. One thing is certain the V6 haven’t offset the loss of viewership and haven’t brought enough new money to f1 but instead this is threatening a massive loss of competitors in the sport. When the in season 5th engine fix is approved you know that something is very fuzzy in f1’s head. F1 is lacking a little bit of wow factor both for the people on track and people at home F1 is missing free options on the Tv front and f1 is a little too expensive these are the simple commercial issues of modern day f1.

    2. I just hope Mclaren and Honda keep their heads down, work hard and keep pushing. They have no divine right to be at the top just because they have a history of being at the pointy end of the grid. It’s going to take a lot of effort to there, but if they achieve it through hard work rather than politicking to get favourable rule changes, it will look like an amazing achievement for fans and sponsors.

      I have respect for the successes RedBull and Renault achieved in tail end of the V8-era with their clever interpretations of the rules that out performed the ideas of all the other teams, but the conflict between the two parties who are supposed to be factory partners is not something I like to see, nor is the moaning that seems to regularly come from RedBull’s Christian Horner.

      I am no Ferrari fanboy, but I have to say: massive, massive respect to the Maranello outfit for the way they have gone about their business to push forwards from last year. I hope Mclaren work in this manner as they to try and work their way to the front.

    3. OnThisDayofF1:Fernando Alonso withstood colossal pressure from Michael Schumacher to win the San Marino Grand Prix on this day ten years ago.
      I miss this kind of racing (I don’t remember well the last three laps, though. Getting old.). Today’s racing with the DRS, Alonso would have no chance of defending his position from Schumacher’s attack.

      1. In the end nothing happened just as Bahrain. More disappointing than exciting, emotional nonetheless, with DRS you just know instantly what’s going to happen and when, it’s rational. Some venues in F1 still reserve this throbbing heart feeling as does boxing in general, it’s a feeling that you rarely feel over the Tv.

      2. Oh wow that was a race indeed!

      3. (I don’t remember well the last three laps, though. Getting old.)

        A lot of other people don’t remember those 3 laps live either, thanks to a well-timed ad break by ITV.

        The 2006 race between these two was intense too.

        1. @david-a I don’t know why, but whenever I go back to watch a race pre-2009, ITV always tend to have breaks during crucial moments i.e. Schumacher retiring in Suzuka 2006, Hamilton encountering a problem in Brazil 2008 etc.

          1. Oops, it should be Brazil 2007.

      4. Bottas held Vettel off for over 20 laps last race despite DRS so same may well have happened in 2005. DRS has been developed in it’s application since it was 1st introduced many off the passes are under braking like Rosberg on Vettel last time out. They nearly touched wheels on one and with the sparks was very Senna Mansell 1991 looking.

      5. Actually, watching in 2005, being used to 2005-kind of racing, I didn´t believe there was any chance of an on-track-overtake. Those things just didn´t happen on dry tracks, especially not in the new Imola. So just because there was a faster car behind a slower one, there wasn´t any intensity to it, the last round of pit-stops was effectively the end of the race in those days. It´s much better today. Though I agree it´s not perfect, especially when the DRS-zone is too long. I wouldn´t ever want to go back to ´95 – 2010-racing.

    4. Before any other area of F1 is dumbed-down in order to save the teams from the ruinous cost of competing ing F1, we should address the biggest cost inF1, that cost is the money Bernie and co. strip out of the sport every year, an amount very close to the combined budgets of half of the teams.

    5. With regards to the COTD, i had planned to respond to the initial comment, but had to attend to my lil’ boy.
      If anyone can show me any other sport in the world where the equivalent of team principals “have to fight to get the regs in their favor”, i’ll be glad to know.
      I simply do not get the logic of that particular silliness makes F1 the best sport on the planet. It makes it the most ridiculous in my opinion.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        24th April 2015, 1:10

        @kbdavies, just a few examples:
        – boxing promoters – where the fight takes place
        – football coaches – when matches take place (rest days)
        – cycling managers – amount of climbing stages and time trials
        – speed skating – altitude of track
        – many sports – roof open/roof closed

        I can think of examples in every single sport where a team manager tries to influence races/championships to favour their team/athlete’s strengths.
        It is not always visible, but happens nonetheless.

        1. @kbdavies I kinda agree with the sentiment of the COTD. What makes F1 so interesting is that its not just about the sporting side of things.

          If you think about how the entire sport runs (or should I say how the business runs?) there are so many elements to it… you have Bernie running the show, the FIA governing the sport, countries trying to host races, the teams trying to win, competition for designers, engineers, drivers and personnels in those teams, the sponsors, the technology itself, the amount of money involved… F1 is its own little world. Of course the racing can be brilliant… but what happens off the track also makes the entire F1 circus interesting.

        2. Arranging a venue is not changing regs. Fighting for weight in the gloves would be, as would changing the length of the rounds in boxing. The rules of football remain static arranging logistics in not changing rules. A team cannot be in 2 places at the same time. You are talking nonsense. F1 changes rules every year, sometimes it makes sense, most time it’s just stupid. Double points? Helmet change ban. Amount of engines. Fuel use. Fuel flow. Exploding tires. Sparks on the under-carriage. That is F1. The only comparable ‘sport’ is Pro-wrestling. Extreme rules, tables ladders and chairs. Chain-match, handicap matches, etc all for the show just like Bernie says and does.

          1. If Bernie could get away with scripting the races, I can guarantee he would!

          2. @kbdavies and Tiomkin
            Do you even under stand F1. F1 is one of the few sports in the world that can not have a set of rules that stays the same over years. This year is gearing up to be a great year and i do not even want to think what is going to happen if next year if Ferrari can keep up with Merc. But even if it does not happen i will still enjoy seeing them try and all the innovations and politics that goes with it. Like i try to say in my statement that there is so many things going on in F1 that it makes F1 great. If you are only intrested in the the race day i truly believe that F1 will always desipoint you.

          3. I would say that F1 is somewhere between “normal” sport and the America’s cup. Both are competitions at the pinnacle of technology and design, with the outcome depending just as much on the engineering/design teams as on the skill of the athletes. The AC is even more extreme in several regards, as the winner gets to decide the entire format of the next competition, from venue, to design spec, to competition structure. It’s not uncommon for the defender and challengers to end up in court to get a ruling on points of contention.

    6. omarr-pepper
      24th April 2015, 0:46

      That tricycle can take Jenson further than his F1 ride.

    7. Bernie believes himself the master of deflection, the wizard of clever subject changing and the artful dodger of blame. Never one to let reality get in the way, he ignores the plain and simple facts that he, the rights holder and marketer of F1 has failed in his responsibility to properly promote the sport. The FOM is still in the stone age instead of the tech age. Nearly all promotion over the world wide web is left to teams and drivers themselves as if the management of F1 itself is either invisible or doesn’t even exist.

      Heaven forbid a fan gets so excited to share some brief video footage shot on their own iPhone of some great moments of an F1 race they bought tickets for and attended. They will then find out F1 management does really exist, not to promote, but to police and keep any snippets of video off the internet that might possibly get other potential new fans excited. Cease and desist that! It’s one thing to protect broadcast rights, totally another to restrict fans form helping to promote your own sport for free, just because they like it so much.

      F1 all these many years later are barely scratching the surface of their own video and other tech friendly promotions. F1 cars are high tech, but F1 promotion could learn some things from that “low brow” series known as NASCAR promotion-wise. The F1 website, live timing, on site and pay for app, are disgraceful by modern day standards. The sad thing is that now everyone pretty much expects it to be that way and that they won’t improve any time soon.

      And the head honcho of F1 could care less about any of this. Instead of finding ways to do his job better and rescue his sport, he drags it down like biggest enemy villain detractor and bad-mouther of F1 on earth. He should be the firm, but benevolent ambassador of F1 to the world. (I almost choked while writing those words.)

      Bernie Ecclestone is Formula 1’s public enemy number one. There are so many things he and FOM could be doing to grow their sport and promote it positively around the world. The easiest things would be proper promotion through social media and web. This is not that expensive and every major industry in the world is already doing it. Having a proper app and live timing that is accurate and easy to use should be included in this. Relatively speaking it is not expensive, they already have a budget for parts of this, they are just doing it poorly or not at all. It is a cost of doing business that actually grows your business and adds value to your brand. This is basic economics in 2015.

      The next thing would be to have a positive spokesperson for F1 on a regular basis. Not a crazy old bat who spouts so much negativity that it starts to become a self fulfilling prophecy. F1 needs an honest, but friendly personality to promote good will. Someone in charge who knows racing and won’t be a shameful embarrassment. I guess, someone to replace Bernie. ASAP.

      These are just a few things off the top of my head and are pretty obvious to F1 fans around the world. Bernie is just transparently self serving and needs to go.

      1. @bullmello

        Bernie believes himself the master of deflection, the wizard of clever subject changing and the artful dodger of blame.

        Doesn’t he fit that description? :)

      2. ColdFly F1 (@)
        24th April 2015, 4:21

        @bullmello – well said.
        I’m actually looking forward reading it again tomorrow as COTD.

      3. I saw J. Saward speculating that one of the reasons why we saw little of Mercedes during last race (and certainly seeing hardly any Manor since the start of the year) is Bernie misusing FOM footage as a means of pressure. Another way of hurting the sport.

        1. @bascb – I had the same thought in the China GP right after Bernie said that Mercedes and Toto Wolff are killing F1. I have no doubt that Bernie is capable of using his influence in such away.

      4. Nascar has seen a bigger drop in there viewership then F1 sins 2002. ESPN has drop them from there channel. Where as F1 in the US is growing. So how is doing better then F1 that is not using the internet or Nascar that does.

        Yes it is Bernies fault that teams can not run them self’s properly. It is his fault that teams do not understand the sound fundamentals of business. It is his fault that they are spending more money then they have. It is Bernies fault the teams does not do enough to put there sponsors in front of the pepole out there.

        1. @koosoos – It wasn’t ESPN dropping NASCAR, it was NASCAR negotiating a new TV deal with FOX and NBC for $8.2 Billion.

      5. @bullmello How long did you spend writing that comment?

        1. @mashiat – Not that long really. Every time Bernie speaks I start accumulating thoughts of how wrong he is for F1 now and how it could be if someone responsible and scrupulous was running the sport. It used to be kind of funny listening to his crazy talk. Now he is just totally toxic for F1.

      6. I like your comment.

      7. @bascb Nice comment. Just to add some numbers, a typical decent app costs about 50k€ per platform, almost nothing for them. Service availability can be made through clouds and costs a few ten thousands more per year. It can surely fit into their promotion budget!

        1. I meant @bullmello, sorry!

    8. Artificial sparks, artificial overtaking, there were plans for artificial noise for current V6 too. Formula 1 became artificial motorsport. It’s like racing-wrestling now.

      1. @hoshino So, you think then that the sparks 25 years ago were also artificial? Because they were achieved by exactly the same means. The reasons for the return of titanium skids instead of the heavy steel skids have been well documented and the sparks are a by-product of those, a bonus, not the main objective

        Following your way of thinking, every change of rules to return something that was already once in F1 is artificial.For example, ban on refueling, max fuel allowance etc.

        You criticize DRS but what’s the best way of tackling F1’s dirty aero that hampers overtaking? An “artificial” return of ground effects is what’s needed. Yes, it’s been done before and all know it’s the best way. But teams are afraid of it because of the costs and because it would completely change the philosophy of the cars. So we have this band-aid solution unfortunately

      2. How are the sparks artificial, @hoshino? They look very real to me and titanium was the skid block material that we used to see in ye days of olde.

        1. Artificial because the teams are forced to put in blocks, to make sparks. The new blocks have no performance or design purpose. They are there to make sparks. It would be better and cheaper to add them to the broadcast via CGI. Hamilton’s back side would also benefit.

      1. yes, sums it up nicely.

    9. Last year Williams caught a few teams napping with a low drag design, but outright downforce is clearly still the outright fastest philosophy.

      This year Ferrari are already on the heels of Mercedes and looking to close that gap during the season. A more realistic target for Williams is to get a points gap before Red Bull and McLaren close in on them. That means taking 5th and 6th every race while they still can and maybe getting lucky with the occasional 4th and maybe a podium.

      This years car just isn’t going to beat Ferrari and Mercedes, resources spent on incremental upgrades won’t close the gap. They need to be clever and steal a march on something revolutionary for next season if that’s the goal.

      I think 3rd in the WCC is secure as long as they don’t throw points away through operational mistakes like with Massa in Bahrain.

      I’m sad to say it but consolidating their current position and focusing on next year would appear the best long term use of resources.

      1. Exactly. Aero rules and always will. I love how some fans think that even if we got rid of wings and put on huge tires that some how aero budgets would fall, quite the opposite actually as the gains would be smaller and cost more, but teams would still chase those extra tenths with any bodywork left to form. We live on earth, earth has an atmosphere… never going to change.

    10. Well, I honestly do not think switching back to the V8 engine formula will solve the dwindling number of people watching the sport and lack of sponsor money. But then again this is coming from Bernie so it is hard to take his word seriously.

      Making the bloody sport more affordable is a much better solution to bring the fans back! For example at my home GP, the USGP, general admission (not even in any of the grandstands or bleachers) ticket prices for 1 person for a 3 day pass are $189! Those are the cheapest possible tickets, I imagine that doesn’t include parking. That also doesn’t include travel expenses as well (which i can deal with those being somewhat costly, because I live in another state which is about 1000 miles/1600 km away).

      1. Being from Atlanta I’m in the exact same boat as you. Honestly don’t think about trying to attend the USGP because after travel expenses and decent tickets, my weekend is in the $700+ range. I love F1, I woke up at 3:00 in the morning to watch Malaysia, but I just can’t justify spending that kind of money for one weekend when i could just watch it on tv instead, which I’m still thankful is free on NBCSN

      2. Strangely enough that’s pretty much what I paid to watch the 1997 (or 96?) French GP at Magny Cours, so it could be worse.

      3. @swindle94 @dstaplet13 The GP used to be a week before Thanksgiving or so I remember (2013 I think). Could have extended it into a thanksgiving vacation :) Not so much now.

        That said, I was charged $162 for a seat in section 117 at the US Open Tennis tournament for a 3rd round match (I think) at Arthur Ashe in 2012. Compared to it, this seems reasonable.

        USA is a big country, F1 can’t help much with regards to travel.

        1. @evere7:

          USA is a big country, F1 can’t help much with regards to travel.

          Yes, F1 can help. More races in the USA gives more chances to travel to a “local” race. And exposure for the teams/manufacturers in the West’s biggest economy, of course.
          Why then does Bernie preferentially expand F1 into developing countries and states with questionable political status? Is that what the teams want? Is that what the manufacturers want? The long term economic outlook for F1 may be very poor.

          1. Sorry – reply to @evered7 above.

        2. @tribaltalker Having a big country is no reason to stage another race there. Until recently there wasn’t one after a long hiatus. The ticket price is cheap compared to other sports and other countries. That is what I wanted to stress.

        3. For the cheapest available tickets, that is pretty expensive. If I wanted to sit in say turn 5 or turn 12 grandstands I would be paying close to $300…..It is even higher for the turn 1 or main grandstands for a 3 day pass. I could attend a local sporting event tonight for $60 and get 2-3 hours of ample entertainment.

    11. Thank you for COTD

      1. Good point made there @koosoos, not I always feel positive about this competative element of F1, but on the other hand it (the politicking to get the best rules for your team) certainly is and has been part of the sport since cars hit roads and went racing.

    12. I think that the point about Bernie (and others) pulling a ‘Ratner’ is exactly the problem. Rather than rubbishing your own product why not turn the focus on the positives such as “the current formula of engines are by far the most advanced ever developed, giving similar power and speed to previous engines which had more cylinders and higher displacement, despite using much less fuel”.

      The teams and drivers are normally very good at publicly stating positives in what are actually negative situations:

      After Ferrari beat Mercedes in Malaysia Wolff described it as “a bit of a wake-up call, which is good for us”.

      When Maldonado was knocked out in Q1 in Bahrain he said “We have all the tyres available, we have a very good pace, maybe the best pace of the season. It’s very consistent and very solid”.

      1. @jerseyf1 – Yeah but you’re confusing Bernie with other people who actually want what is good for the sport.

    13. I love the motorsports article. Sums up my own feelings pretty well.

      The V6 hybrid power units are a technological marvel… But how widely was it promoted? Instead, the commercial rights holder pulled a ‘Ratner’ and rubbished the achievements of the sport that has made him a multi-billionaire.


      When the sport’s main figurehead is rubbishing the sport, how can they expect anything but a decreasing audience? Even ignoring the fact that viewing figures and ticket sales have been on the decline for years.

      I work for a company selling nail varnish. If our MD was constantly saying “Our product is just not the same anymore, the finish isn’t as shiney, the colours aren’t as bright, it chips easily” then what would happen to our sales?

    14. Keith Benchod
      24th April 2015, 15:31

      This McLaren-Honda partnership will split once Fernando leaves the team. Honda are a spent force.

    15. COTD is spot on.

      As for the engines, why were the V8s so great? The noise was horrendous. Let’s be honest. A small V8 running five-digit revs does not sound like the classic throaty, earth-shaking V8s people know and love from yore. It’s more like a dentist’s drill. This is leaving aside the technical lameness of those engines, which were less advanced than those from a generation before. And the “brand” of the naturally aspirated V8+ is not what it was. With few exceptions, high performance road cars and supercars are turning to turbo charged and/or hybrid engines. What is the back of LaFerrari, the P1, the 918? If Bernie want’s 1000hp V8s, then the teams can just buy some V8 crate engines by mail order, bolt them to some X-trac 6 speed sequentials, and call it a day. But then let’s see how many manufacturers will participate. We don’t need an open-wheel DTM and the auto brands don’t either.

      Speaking of engines and noise, the silence from Horner and Marko about Mercedes’ “historic” level of domination is now deafening. Where are their demands for restraining Mercedes just as RBR was allegedly restrained before? Now we hear some nice chat about digging in and working hard. I think the twin shames of seeing Ferrari challenge for wins and having McLaren at their heels have worked a charm.

      1. @dmw, Spot on yourself there Dave.

    16. Trenthamfolk (@)
      24th April 2015, 18:37

      Regarding the McLaren-Honda relationship, I recall Martin Brundle (I thinks, perhaps it was Eddie Jordan?) saying last season that Button would be crucial to making it work, simply because he has worked with them before and they are notoriously difficult to work with… he also has a japanese wife and is adored over there… How Mclaren thought they would fare without him is anyones guess… Mclaren need Button more than he needs them! In my opinion :-)

    17. There are a lot of cultural differences, and I think it is more about McLaren understanding the strategy and commitment of Honda and make sure we fit it into our world rather than expecting them to come to our culture.

      I think Honda’s reliability issues have created a huge amount of disappointment in McLaren and in F1.

      1. Sadly for Mclaren, the current car is not (yet) better than the notoriously bad Honda “Earth Car” of 2007. I mean that managed to finish in the top 10, 9 times in a season of 17 races with a best position of 5th. I know the circumstances are different with this being the engine manufacturers first year back. But are Honda better at developing performance in 2015 thant 2007? I’m not convinced yet. They really need to make a huge breakthrough at the next race, don’t they? I’m worried they are doomed to be mediocre this season. Its not as is the other teams are standing still. I really want to be wrong here!

      2. It’s early days yet, the testing ban means that testing has to be done in the full glare of a race weekend, at the same time they are limited to 4 engines to race and test. Honda have no magic guarantee of success but it’s far to early to call them a failure.

        1. I accept your explanation, but it does seem strange that they didn’t do adequate testing while prior to the engine being accepted as an F1 engine. For example, an F1 engine has to be able to accept burst speeds of 17,000 RPM for 4 x 2 hours, it has to be able to run an average of say 10,000 RPM for 4 x 2 hours, etc. I
          In addition the energy recovery system has to accept being recharged 14 times every 1.7 minutes, and then have all that energy expended once every few laps … sorry 3 x 1.4 minutes.
          Yes, I know next to nothing about an F1 engine, but what I do know is Honda haven’t met the expectations of a lot of people, and now we have all this ducking and diving by those in the know, and that points to a problem with them not doing enough to make their engine better.

    18. I recall somebody getting upset about the “McHonda” tag as not being respectful to McLaren, but the relationship between McLaren and Honda seems very different than that between, say, Red Bull and Renault. Almost the reverse in fact. Honda are very much the senior partner in that pairing.

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