Tag Archives: Honda

Capito: McLaren wants “big step” with Honda for 2017

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In an interview with the media today, McLaren Racing boss Jost Capito says he fully expects Honda to make a “big step” forward with their power unit in 2017, as they have had enough time to understand what is required of them and for the relationship with McLaren to fully form.

Whilst Honda have taken massive strides this season compared to 2015, their power unit is still considered the weakest on the grid.

The Japanese manufacturer has big plans for next year, which includes a complete overhaul of the power unit’s design – which has been made possible by the decision to scrap engine development tokens.

In his interview with the media today, Capito is therefore expecting huge gains on both sides as he admitted McLaren too must improve if they’re to beat the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull. Capito stated the following:-

‘I expect improvement on the car from McLaren and a big step from Honda on the engine. It takes always a certain time to form a team with a new partner like this. McLaren and Honda were partners before but it was a long time ago. All new people are involved and it takes a while for Honda to understand how McLaren works and for McLaren to understand how Honda works. I think this is now achieved.’

Further on in his interview with the media, Capito is confident the improvements will lead to a competitive McLaren. Capito added the following:-

‘It is a very good partnership and the Honda guys understand more what is needed from the chassis side and we understand more what is needed from the engine side as well. I expect really not just the improvement of each but also the improvement of the overall relationship. So one plus one is not two – it should be three.’

Honda gets an fifth power unit for the 2015 season

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It has been announced yesterday that McLaren-Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will be allowed to use an additional power unit without penalty in 2015 after the FIA tweaked Formula 1’s rules for new engine manufacturers.

As part of a raft of regulation changes decided in Wednesday’s Strategy Group meeting, the FIA said an extra power unit per driver will be granted for any new manufacturer entering the sport.

The FIA said “for the sake of fairness” the measure will apply retrospectively to Honda, which entered the sport with McLaren this year for the 2015 season. This change in regulation comes after Alonso and Button were given 25-place grid penalties in Austria when they both exceeded their respective engine allocations by taking a fifth unit.

The rules divide the power unit into six elements – the internal-combusion engine, the MGU-K, the MGU-H, the turbocharger, the energy store and control electronics – that can be individually exchanged.

When a driver breaks into the first of their extra power units with the introduction of any one of those components, they are hit with a 10-place grid penalty with a five-place drop for the subsequent components of that power unit.

The pattern continues with each subsequent extra power unit, but now each McLaren driver will be able to introduce a complete set of components without penalty thanks to the rule change.

Meanwhile, the FIA added the price customer teams have to pay for an engine supply will be looked at as part of a wider tweak of the current engine formula. At the moment,  customer teams are paying between £14-17million for the powertrains. In a statement to the press, the FIA stated the following on the matter at hand:-

‘Mandate has been given to the FIA and FOM to propose a comprehensive set of measures for power unit development and cost of supply. This will include full review of the token system, increase in race fuel allowance, limits of the usage of engine dynamometers etc.’

Overall, all I can say on this matter is that its great news for McLaren-Honda getting another power unit for the season, even if they have already taken a penalty for doing so as per the regulations state.

As for the FIA and FOM looking into costs of competing in the sport; I feel that it should have done this sooner and they now have to do something about this in order to avoid a repeat of losing Caterham and very nearly losing Marussia too. The time to act is now.

Honda admit that there are open to supplying a second team

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Yesterday in an interview with the media, engine manufacturer Honda would be open to supplying a second team with engines in next year’s Championship but as yet have not been approached.

It has been a trying start to Honda’s return to Formula 1 this season with the Japanese engine manufacturer managing just one points finish with McLaren.

In an interview with the media yesterday, Honda Motorsport boss Yashusa Arai has stated that as a company that they are taking strides forward and hope that leads to other teams showing an interest in their power units. Arai stated the following:-

‘Unfortunately I don’t have any offers right now. Maybe after the summer break, I hope someone calls me and says ‘please give me your good engine’! Right now we don’t have it, but I hope we get it.

‘We learn a lot with McLaren. It’s very successful, and for the development we don’t need [another team] because it’s a top team so we learn enough. But for the whole of Formula One it’s very important to increase teams to make it more attractive and more competitive. I think that’s the right way to go.’

Even though there mightn’t be any offers right now, Arai hasn’t dismissed the idea of possibly supplying another team on the grid in the near future if the chance presented itself and believes that if they can improve massively on the track, they could get an offer from a team.

As Arai stated in his interview yesterday, he feels that the current arrangement with McLaren is helping them learn more about their engine and its performance but believes that by expanding and offering their services to another team will help Formula One grow even more in the near future.

When asked further on in his interview yesterday if Honda would want to supply engines to another team if a new entry came to him, Arai replied with the following:-

‘Yes. I would feel a very good feeling if some new team or newcomer says ‘Please, we want to use your engine’. I would be very happy.

‘Do we have the power to operate everything? I don’t know. Maybe we need more time to operate more than one team. Of course, McLaren-Honda is a works team, so how we would separate that and work with another team I have no idea.’

As Arai rightly says, it would be great if Honda could supply another team on the grid in the near future but there are questions of how that would work; given the fact that they are in partnership with McLaren and they will have exclusivity with engine parts, software systems etc before another team.

But overall, it is clear that Arai and Honda would like to expand with supplying engines to the sport in the future and are open to offers; despite their partnership with McLaren. But let’s not forget that Honda are in the business to show what can be done and also to sell road cars and will want to build on hopefully the success that they have in the sport and what they could achieve in the future.

But with regards to how that would work with the arrangement with McLaren? That is up to them to talk about that situation if it arises. But it is clear overall that Honda would like to expand in F1 and that if they can get themselves together, that could be the case in the next few years or so. But we shall have to wait and see what happens but their priority at the moment is working with McLaren to get themselves in a position to offer this to another team.

Alonso: It’s not nice being lapped by a Ferrari

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In an interview with the media after the Chinese GP today, McLaren driver Fernando Alonso said it was “not the best feeling at all” to be lapped by the Ferraris in China but insists McLaren’s days of languishing outside the points will not last much longer.

Alonso completed his first race distance since returning to McLaren in Shanghai, finishing ahead of team-mate Jenson Button in 12th. In the closing stages he was lapped by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari once again showed the huge strides it has made towards Mercedes.

Alonso left Ferrari last year after five years without a championship and he admits it was a bad feeling to be lapped not only by both red cars but the top teams fighting for points. In his interview with the media after the race today, Alonso is not happy with the performance of the McLaren team at the moment but is confident that it will improve. Alonso stated the following:-

‘Obviously, it’s not the best feeling, at all, but we know that it’s the way it is at the moment and we think that it’s not going to be for too long. It’s just for a few races now at the beginning.’

Of course Alonso is not going to be happy about the situation; but he knows what he signed up for when joining McLaren-Honda and will just have to go through this period as best as he possibly can while still remaining positive about the situation too.

Honda has turned its engine down at the opening races of 2015 to preserve the team’s engines and minimise the threat of penalties later in the season. China was the first time both McLaren-Honda cars finished and  further on in his interview, Alonso was happy to look at the positives. Alonso added the following:-

‘I’m sure we learnt many things. We are still a little bit blind with the car; we still need to get a lot of information to extract from the package. Today, finishing both cars was a lot of useful information for us and trying to understand the car better. My longest run in winter testing was 12 laps, in Malaysia I did 22 laps, today I completed the race, so it was very useful for me as well.

‘We had a small issue in the middle stint with the aerodynamics of the car, we have some extra oversteer we need to control. We are not so fast and also we have some problems and were even slower!’

Even though they have made a small step forward this weekend by finishing the race, Alonso knows that there is still an incredible amount of work to be done to understand fully how the MP4-30 works and how to get the best performance out of the car while on the track when it is fully working.

But Alonso appears to be happy with the direction that the team are currently moving in and this will only inspire the team to develop and improve further throughout the course of the season ahead; even though there is still an awful amount of hard work and progress still to be done.

In the latter stages of his interview, Alonso has stated that everyone at McLaren is happy with the rate of progress being made. Alonso said the following about this:-

‘I think we are all very satisfied, we are all very happy with progress in all areas. The car is improving a lot every weekend. Power unit, aerodynamic, reliability, everything is getting better and better. The starting point was too low, that’s the only thing, so the first couple of races are a test for us but we want to come back in a competitive basis very soon.’

Alonso for me sums it up nicely. It is clear that the team are making small and steady progress to understanding their car and also the Honda power unit and the team should be happy about this; even though everyone will want to do as much as possible to keep on the direction that they are on now.

But McLaren and Honda have to undergo this process to fully understand how each other work separately and also together in order to get to the level of performance that they would like and need to be. With Alonso doing everything that he can to help the team develop and improve the car while also gaining track mileage; this will only help them understand the car better in order to reach their objective.

And for me, it will only be a matter of time before the team, Honda and Alonso reach the standard they aspire to and reach the level of success that all associated with McLaren, Honda and their drivers know they are capable of achieving.

 

Honda free to develop its engine for the 2015 season

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Later this week, it was announced that Honda has won its fight to develop its engine during the 2015 season after being given concessions by the FIA, according to the BBC.

A loophole in the regulations for this year means Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari are not bound by a pre-season engine homologation deadline (February 28) as they were last year, though that initially did not extend to Honda as it enters the sport in 2015 with McLaren.

The loophole means Honda’s three rivals can develop 48% of the engine throughout the year using 32 ‘tokens’, leading to a complaint from the Japanese manufacturer to the FIA earlier this month.

Following that complaint, the FIA has allowed Honda limited development throughout the season. The BBC reports Honda will be allowed to make upgrades based on the average number of tokens unused by the other manufacturers by the time of the Australian Grand Prix on March 16.

The report quotes FIA race director Charlie Whiting, in a written statement, to explain Honda’s concession as follows:-

‘If the three 2014 manufacturers have eight, seven and five unused tokens respectively at the start of the season, then the new manufacturer will be allowed to use six during the season (the average rounded down to the nearest whole number).’

The decision from the FIA takes into consideration the concerns of Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari, who are united in the belief that Honda has an advantage from entering the sport a year late because it knew the performance of rival engines in 2014. By contrast, the three manufacturers last year entered the 2014 season without a benchmark to aim for.

With freedom to develop over the whole season, it is unlikely any other manufacturer will use all 32 tokens before the race in Melbourne, meaning Honda will have the tokens to improve engine performance during the season itself.

Overall, it is clear that something needed to be done by the FIA with this issue and I am glad that it has been resolved for Honda as quickly as it has. In my opinion, the FIA have looked at the regulations and decided to give Honda a fair amount of tokens to use to develop their engines over the season based on what the other three manufacturers currently.

Even though Honda may have had a year to get to grips with the V6 power units and have watched their rivals performing under the regulations that were introduced last season, Honda can plan as much as they can to get competitive on the track but the reality is that they could be competitive or they could not be.

But it is clear for 2015 that Honda have a chance to develop and improve their performance on the track during the season, this was all they wanted in the first place in order to try and close the year gap their rivals currently hold over them and now they have the chance and they will be grasping it with both hands.

McLaren-Honda announce Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button as drivers for 2015

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After weeks of speculation about who will drive for McLaren-Honda in 2015, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were announced to race for the team yesterday with Kevin Magnussen stepping down from the race seat into the reserve driver role.

Alonso rejoins the team he last raced for back in 2007 when he took four wins on his way to third place in the Drivers’ Championship, and ends months of talk about where he will driving in 2015 after announcing his departure from Ferrari.

In an interview with the media, Alonso has stated that he received several offers from teams on the grid but the lure of returning to McLaren was just too strong for him. Alonso stated the following:-

‘Over the past year I have received several offers, some of them really tempting, given the current performance of some of the teams that showed interest. But, more than a year ago, McLaren-Honda contacted me and asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership – a partnership that dominated the Formula 1 scene for so long.

‘McLaren-Honda’s repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence, ahead.’

Even though Alonso may have received other offers from other teams to secure his services in the sport, he believes that McLaren who approached him a year ago was the best option available for him. It would seem that McLaren-Honda’s objectives, approach and determination to be successful in the sport as quickly as possible have convinced Alonso to rejoin the team again and believes that this will benefit the team and also his career too.

Button has been retained for a sixth season, having joined the team in 2010 after winning the World Drivers’ Championship for Brawn GP the year before, and has the opportunity to reunite with Honda, which took him to his maiden Grand Prix victory back at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. Button stated the following on being retained by McLaren-Honda for 2015:-

‘I am extremely excited to be embarking on my 16th year in Formula 1 and my sixth season for McLaren. Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together, and I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team.

‘Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go.’

It is clear for all to see that Button has been retained by McLaren for 2015 and starting his sixteenth season in the sport. Button just like Alonso feels confident that the McLaren-Honda partnership will be successful and that he will be doing everything possible to deliver on the track and deliver the success that they crave.

Button has been given a great opportunity to utilise all of his existing and working relationships and connections with Honda which I believe is still the right decision that McLaren have taken. This will provide both parties with a solid foundation on which to develop and improve on as the partnership goes on into the distant future.

Chairman and CEO of McLaren Ron Dennis was delighted to be able to announce two former World Drivers’ Champions as his driver line-up for 2015. Dennis stated the following:-

‘McLaren’s policy has always been to assemble the strongest line-up possible, and in Fernando and Jenson I firmly believe that is exactly what we have.

‘We signed Fernando a little while ago, but we decided not to announce the fact until we had also re-signed Jenson as his team-mate. For many reasons our negotiations with Jenson took quite a long time, but, now that they have been concluded, we are confident that our collaboration with him will continue to thrive in the future every bit as well as it has in the past.

‘Make no mistake about it, Jenson is 100% committed to McLaren-Honda, to Formula 1, and to winning.’

It is clear for all to see that Dennis is delighted and also very confident to be leading the team during his renewed partnership with McLaren-Honda and that he is confident that both parties will be able to replicate the success of season’s past and be able to fight for victories once again in the distant future.

During McLaren’s history in the sport as Dennis rightly points out, their policy has always been to assemble the strongest line-up possible and he is confident that the line up of Alonso and Button will meet their objectives of achieving success as quickly as possible with Honda over the next few seasons.

It is clear that the speculation in the paddock was correct about Alonso signing for the team starting next season and it has been rumoured that Button only signed for the team on Wednesday night after many weeks of negotiations in order to retain him for next year. Even though it has taken up to three months for McLaren to announce their driver line up after much speculation, rumour and also after much frustration from fans on social media, McLaren have now secured the near future of Button who deserved to be retained after a reasonable performance this season.

Even though I feel sorry for Kevin Magnussen who has been demoted to reserve driver for 2015 after I feel he had a reliable and reasonable rookie season in the sport (and has not done anything wrong), I can understand why McLaren have taken the decision that they have in order to put in their opinion the two strongest drivers in their cars to give them the best chance to achieve the success they need to on the circuit.

However, I do feel that the demotion of Magnussen to the McLaren team’s reserve may have been a pressured decision from Honda behind the scenes who would also want the two strongest drivers on the grid in their cars and also will have wanted to have used their past experience with Button and also his Japanese connections which could prove to be very beneficial for all involved.

And even though I have argued in previous articles on the subject that McLaren retaining Button for at least one season to take advantage of his experience and connections with Honda would have been the right thing to do during their first year together back in partnership with each other. But even though my heart is with Magnussen right now, it is nice to see that McLaren and Honda have given him a role still within the team in order to use his experience in the sport and also the chance to develop further as a driver.

And let us not forget that Mika Hakkinen in the 1990’s did nearly the same thing which was making his Formula One debut in 1991 with Lotus, stayed with the team for another season and then signed a test driver contract with McLaren which proved to be the correct decision for his career after he was promoted to race for the team after Michael Andretti’s departure. And Magnussen could learn a lot by taking a look at the decision that Hakkinen made years ago and it could in time help him regain a race drive back in Formula One.

Overall in conclusion, the news that Alonso and Button have been signed for McLaren for the 2015 season was to be expected by pundits and the fans. On paper, McLaren’s driver line up looks promising, has the potential to deliver and also brings the team the experience and expertise necessary to build a solid foundation that will bring them success on the track. But without the car underneath them, this is the only way both Button and Alonso will achieve this.

Even though I understand why McLaren have undergone this direction with their drivers, you have to pose the question that we are all thinking in our heads right now; has the issues between Dennis and Alonso from 2007 been resolved satisfactorily?

On the surface, all looks to be have resolved between Dennis and Alonso, hence why Alonso is returning to McLaren. But I am wondering how long this facade will last and also will his return to McLaren be the success story that both parties believe that it will be? At this stage, I cannot answer this question but I hope beyond all hope that these issues do not resurface and that it does not affect McLaren, Dennis or Alonso again.

But it is clear that McLaren and Honda have chosen a driver line up that they feel is right for them and believe it will bring the success that both parties want, crave and need to deliver; even if I feel it will be at least 2-3 years before McLaren and Honda reap the rewards expected from each other and also their partnership.

McLaren-Honda debuted the MP4-29H at Silverstone last week

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Last Friday, the interim version of McLaren’s current MP4-29 car powered by a Honda V6 engine for the first time, the new partnership debuted last week when the McLaren-Honda was put through its paces during a shakedown run at Silverstone.

Although the session which was designated as a private filming day was held behind closed doors, Honda offered a snapshot of F1’s new era on their Twitter account (see picture at the top of this article)

It is thought in the paddock very likely that the McLaren-Honda which was listed by the team as a MP4-29H; will run again in harness at the upcoming Abu Dhabi test at the end of the month.

Under the terms of this year’s testing regulations, teams are permitted up to 100kms of track running on their allotted filming days.

McLaren are yet to divulge any information about the session other than to confirm that test driver Oliver Turvey was behind the wheel. The team also remain tight-lipped on the identity of their 2015 driver line-up, although Fernando Alonso seems certain to return as partner to either Kevin Magnussen or Jenson Button.

But all we can say at the moment is that the fact that McLaren and Honda debuting the MP4-29H last week is a good sign that things are heading in the right direction for them, With both parties wanting to make a good return to the sport next season, the fact that they are managing to gain some running time already will help them as they look to improve their performance.

But with the spotlight firmly on McLaren especially with regards to their driver line up still not being announced for next season, the question is which two drivers will be putting the Honda engine through its paces? My money at the moment is on McLaren retaining both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fernando Alonso came back, but I just do not see it happening. But anything can happen in Formula One…