Category Archives: Honda

Formula One: Past, Present & Future – Go-Kart Racing With McLaren-Honda

In an event for Mobil 1 and Esso, Mclaren Honda driver’s; Mika Häkkinen, David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, and Stoffel Vandoorne recently got together at Fernando Alonso’s Go Karting circuit in Spain to pit the skills of Mclaren drivers from the last 3 decades against each other.

The event saw Mika, David, and Jenson return to Go Kart for the first time in years, giving them an opportunity to roll out some tried an tested excuses for performances (of lack there of) on track. Jenson who is very media event you see him in comes across more and more like a presenter enjoyed the challenge, but was keen to point out Fernando’s home advantage.

Who ultimately took the chequered flag? Check out the film above from Mobil One’s The Grid to find out for your self!

For more films from Mobil 1’s The Grid, head to thier You Tube Channel here

 

 

Formula One: Silly Season revisited

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The 2016 silly season on the face of it has turned out to be some what of a damp squib. With Mercedes, Ferrari, & Red Bull locking down their drivers early on change at the front of the field has been ruled out

Back in May this year I made a few predictions around changes. As the F1 circus returns from a well deserved summer break, outstanding driver agreements will feature highly on many teams ‘to do’ lists. Based on the current driver market I’ve revisited my silly season predictions. It’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below or through twitter (@jonnywilde)

Mercedes AMG Petronas:

As predicted Nico Rosberg’s contract with the team has been renewed. This comes despite a number of incidents between Nico & Lewis on track. Rosberg now has a contract with Mercedes until 2018. This sees his agreement fall in line with Hamilton’s contract. If nothing else, salary demands of Lewis and Nico by 2018 are likely to necessitate a change in line up. With this in mind Mercedes are priming Wehrlein and Ocon as future works drivers.

 Scuderia Ferrari:

Many expected the Scuderia to replace Kimi Räikkönen in 2017, I suggested Sergio Perez would be the ideal candidate to take on the role, but with a strong first half of the year Ferrari have elected to maintain the Vettel, Räikkönen line up for a 3rd season. Kimi’s life away from the track appears to be having a positive effect on his performance as a driver and as a Ferrari brand ambassador. With changes in the Ferrari management team, driver stability for 2017 and perhaps beyond could be a good thing.

Red Bull Racing

At the time of writing my original silly season article, I commented Verstappen was a shoe in for the second seat with Red Bull Racing alongside Daniel Ricciardo. I also suggested it could happen before the end of the year. I did not expect it happen so quickly. Nor did I expect Max to win a race in 2016! (did anyone?) Both Daniel and Max are now locked down at Red Bull Racing until at least 2018. Putting the Red Bull Racing Junior Driver Development programme on hold.

Williams Martini Racing

2016 has been tough for Williams. The team have fallen behind in the development race, possibly / hopefully due to an early switch in focus to 2017. With engine performance convergence emerging, budget shortfalls in comparison to the top 3 have been felt more than in recent seasons. It seems to be widely expected that 2016 will be Felipe Massa’s last year in F1, with this in mind Botta’s performances haven’t been strong enough. I suggested in the previous article that Kyvat and Bottas’ would be a formidable line up for the team. I now see this as less likely. I struggle to buy into the Button return narrative, but can imagine sponsors would be more than happy to see him re-join the team. That being said if Williams adopt a bold strategy they could look towards development driver Alex Lynn, and replace Bottas with Jenson. If they require funding alongside a driver, Perez could be attractive, although this would be nothing more than a lateral move for the Mexican.

Mclaren Honda

Jenson Button is out of contact at the end of this season. Fernando Alonso is contracted until the end of 2017. The team have Stoffel Vandoorne waiting in the wings. I expected Jenson to leave the team at the end of the season, If the 2017 Mclaren Honda is not in a championship contending position I also see Alonso finally calling time on his F1 career. Stoffel will step up into a race seat with the team for 2017, but who will he race along side? Whilst the original Mclaren Perez relationship did not end well in 2013. Sergio brings substantial backing and has consistently over delivered for Force India. Could he be an outside bet for a seat with Mclaren? The team has the manufacturer backing Perez’s sees as a must to contend for future championships.  With the top team drives locked down, Honda or Renault are his next best bet.

Sarhara Force India

Vijay Mallya has gone on record to state both drivers will be retained for 2017. I do not see this happening. As mentioned above I believe Sergio will move on to pastures new. To me the same logic applies to Hülkenberg. Neither driver is going to contend for championships with Force India. Neither driver is getting any younger. I believe Hülkenberg will move away from F1 towards WEC in 2017. This leaves Force India will a huge budget and talent shortfall. The team may look towards Mercedes and taking on a development driver in the form of Pascal Wehrlein for 2017, who on circuits with which he has prior knowledge has looked very impressive at Manor this season. The team could overcome the budget shortfall and maintain the Mexican links with the team through promoting Alfonso Celis or picking up Esteban Gutiérrez after his tough return to the sport with Haas. Equally, the team have Russian driver Nikita Mazepin on their books, he brings backing in the form of Uralchem and whilst a little hot tempered has performed strongly in junior series.

Renault

2016 was always a holding / building year for the team. They inherited a driver partnership with Jolyon Palmer and to be honest, he has looked a little out of his depth at times this season. I don’t expect the team to retain him. Renault are keen to re-establish the French connection with the team. Assuming Ocon performs well at Manor in the second half of this season I expect him to move over the Renault for 2017. Renault will be keen for the French man to sever his links to Mercedes moving forward and will likely be prepared to pay for the privilege. The other seat at Renault, to me, is between Kevin Magnesun and Sergio Perez. The team know KMag, and know what he can do with the car, but in Perez they have a driver capable of over achieving and a driver with significant backing and a huge fan base. Perez and Ocon would be a strong line up for a team rebuilding and looking to challenge for future championships.

Scuderia Toro Rosso

I expect the driver line up of Sainz and Kyvat to go unchanged into 2017. Sainz was confirmed earlier in the season, his role is secure. With Kyvat the story is a little different, he has struggled since returning to the team from Red Bull Racing. His ultimate pace and skill are not in question. The team must work with him to rebuild his self confidence. STR has historically been the home of junior Red Bull drivers. Pierre Gasly would be the logical driver to make the step up to the team in 2017, but I personally see Red Bull placing him else where, possibly with Manor. STR in order to grow should no longer be seen as a proving ground for future Red Bull Racing drivers and with the current line up at RBR locked down until 2018, STR have an opportunity to operate as their own entity.

The Haas F1 Team

After an incredible start in F1, Haas have settled in a midfield team. I expect 2017 will be a huge challenge for the team. With major regulations changes and the team no longer having such unregulated support from Ferrari I expect them to be battling at the very rear of the field. Grosjean appears to have very few options away from the team, that being said a return to Renault should not be ruled out. For Haas to bring F1 to America they would do very well to sign Indy 500 winner Alex Rossi for 2017 alongside Grojean. I expect Esteban Gutiérrez to move on.

The Sauber F1 Team

With the future of the team secure through Longbow Finances. The Swiss based team can look towards rebuilding themselves. Security in reality has come a little too late to kick start a 2017 challenge into anything more than a return to consistent points finishes, but this is a great place to start. Stories continue to swirl around Marcus Ericsson’s backers being behind the Longbow Finance investment into the team. My personal take is that even if this is true I do not believe the backing is linked to Ericsson maintaining a drive with the team. Investments are made with an expectation of return not simply to pay for a drive. That being said I hope the team will maintain their current line up into 2017. Stability during a period of rebuilding is key, and it should not be forgotten both Nasr and Ericsson are more than capable of turning in strong performances.

Manor Racing

The Manor Racing team have a history of announcing driver partnerships very late on into the year. Rio Haryanto’s mid season demotion to reserve driver demonstrate the continued reliance on drivers with backing. I expect the team will be keen to maintain a development driver relationship to a larger team, be that with Pascal Wehrlein and Mercedes or Gasly and Red Bull Racing (despite the Mercedes power unit agreement) The second seat at Manor, I believe will be taken by Jordan King. He has performed admirably in GP2 this season with Racing Engineering and brings a healthy budget to his seat. It should not be forgotten his father supported the team in their re-emergence from bankruptcy.

Spa, Monza and Singapore have a history of being a circuit in which driver announcements are made, expect significant news in the coming weeks.

 

Formula One: NTT Communications joins Mclaren

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Japanese telecommunications giant, NTT communications, have announced a 3 year partnership with Mclaren Honda. The partnership will see prominent branding for NTT Communications feature on the rearwing end plate and sleeves of driver overalls from the British Grand Prix onwards.

Joining the team as a Technical partner, NTT Communications will provide network, cloud, data connectivity and other innovations to meet McLaren’s need for an IT communications platform that delivers optimum performance to support its Formula 1 race team.

Speaking of the new partnership Ron Dennis Chairman and CEO of the Mclaren Group remarked : “I am delighted to welcome NTT Communications to the roster of McLaren-Honda’s high-technology and premium brands. NTT has a long association with technology that goes all the way back to the introduction of the telegraph in Japan. Given McLaren’s long association with innovation, it is only fitting that we should join forces with such an established and well-respected leader in enterprise communications technology who well understands our own drive for relentless technical development.

Tetsuya Shoji, President and CEO, NTT Communications said: “I am thrilled that NTT Communications is now a Technology Partner for McLaren-Honda, a symbol of innovation for motorsport fans worldwide. The NTT Communications technology repertoire is wide and deep, and McLaren’s excellence in Formula 1 is world renowned. With innovation a part of the DNA of both companies, this partnership will help McLaren-Honda transform how it manages the data generated during Formula 1 races and transcend hitherto established boundaries in motorsports racing.”

NTT Communications will offer Wide Area Network (WAN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) services to McLaren across multiple countries including UK, Spain, US, Singapore and Japan. During race weekends, this network is critical to support the transmission of data in real-time from McLaren’s race cars to the company’s technology and engineering teams based in the UK. NTT Communications will combine the management of WAN and LAN (Local Area Network) services to provide a seamless and consistently managed network to increase the quality, resilience and availability of end to end ICT services.

NTT Communications will offer its enhanced Enterprise Cloud 2.0 services to provide a platform from which McLaren can consume dedicated and shared computing and storage resources on a Pay-As-You-Go model. This service, together with the NTT Communications consulting practice and Cloud Management Platform (CMP), will offer McLaren a strong opportunity to deliver on its technology transformation strategy.

NTT Communications and McLaren will also work together to explore other advanced technologies capable of enhancing the performance of the team.

For more on NTT Communications click here

Formula One: Michael Kors joins Mclaren

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McLaren-Honda have announced a new partnership with Michael Kors. The internationally renowned luxury accessories and ready-to-wear brand becomes the official lifestyle partner of the team.

Both McLaren-Honda and Michael Kors celebrate design and speed, with the partnership strengthening and amplifying both brands’ embodiment of a fast, jet-set lifestyle.

“Michael Kors and McLaren-Honda are pioneers in their respective spaces, and we firmly believe that McLaren-Honda is the right partner for our entry into the Formula 1 racing world,” says John D. Idol, Chairman and Chief Executive Office of Michael Kors. “This is an exciting moment for us, especially as we continue to grow as a men’s lifestyle brand.”

The Formula 1 audience is a new one for Michael Kors, providing a prime opportunity to familiarize the European consumer with all facets of the Michael Kors world. Additionally, the legendary McLaren-Honda brand and its renowned Formula 1 drivers are an exceptional representation of the Michael Kors man—sophisticated, international and successful, with an appreciation for living life in the fast lane.

“We’re delighted to announce a brand-new partnership between McLaren-Honda and Michael Kors, the world-famous award-winning designer of luxury accessories and ready-to-wear apparel,” says Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman and CEO McLaren Group.

He continues, “Like McLaren, which has raced in Formula 1 all over the world for the past 50 years, Michael Kors is also a truly international company, operating stylish and successful stores in some of the most prestigious cities in the world, including New York, Beverly Hills, Chicago, London, Milan, Paris, Munich, Istanbul, Dubai, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

“Moreover, I firmly believe that the corporate cultures of both McLaren and Michael Kors encompass a common dynamism and adventurism, as well as a shared commitment to a similarly relentless pursuit of perfection, and as such the two brands are extremely well suited to a long-term partnership. That brand fit is very important to both of us: both companies have built their reputations on being the very best at what they do, and, as we now march forward together, we’ll both become stronger still.”

As the team’s official lifestyle partner, Michael Kors branding will feature prominently on both the driver overalls and the McLaren-Honda MP4-31 car.

To celebrate the launch of the partnership, Michael Kors has created a limited-edition men’s leather jacket. The 50 specially produced black leather jackets will be sold exclusively on the men’s floor of the new Michael Kors London flagship store, while supplies last. The jackets feature both the Michael Kors and McLaren logos, as well as a limited-edition plaque with each piece’s unique production number.

“This partnership is about the convergence of style and speed, which is inherent to both the Michael Kors and McLaren-Honda DNA,” says Michael Kors. “There is an energy, sophistication and confidence to both of our brands, and we wanted to create a limited-edition piece that spoke to that.”

Formula One: VIDEO – Mclaren: Life begins at 50

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Sunday May 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of Mclaren’s first Formula One race. Bruce Mclaren took to the wheel of the MB2 around the streets of Monaco. Despite managing only 9 laps before an oil leak bought an early end to his race, the race represents the beginning of one of the most successful teams in Formula One history.

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Having participated in 791 race weekends, Mclaren have a amassed 182 wins, sealing 8 constructors world championships and 12 drivers championships. Only Scuderia Ferrari have a longer history in the sport.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, recent performances, specifically pace shown in the final sector of a lap around the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, suggest Mclaren Honda could be an outside contender for a podium finish. With odds of 100/1 for Fernando Alonso and 150/1 for Jenson Button, an each way bet on the duo might be worth thinking about. After a number of challenging seasons the Mclaren Honda package is looking increasingly competitive, with the promise of ultimatly challenging the dominant Mercedes becoming more tangible with every passing race weekend. Perhaps the team’s 50th anniversary will spark the beginning of a new era.

Jenson Button & Mclaren Honda preview the Monaco Grand Prix here:

Mobil One The Grid in collaboration with Mclaren Honda are giving you the chance to win a full size replica Fernando Alonso helmet see below for more information:

 

Formula One: Mclaren Monaco Form + Win Alonso Helmet

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The opening five races of the 2016 Formula One World Championship have seen Mclaren Honda steadily move back towards the sharp end of the grid, this has been reflected in key milestones such as the Fernando Alonso making an appearance in Q3 of the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying session. Whilst not an achievement one might expect a championship winning team to be celebrating it was the first time Mclaren have competed in the final part of qualifying since the beginning of the Honda partnership.

The Monaco Grand Prix should yield a further step forward for the team. The tight and twisty nature of a lap around the principality minimises any performance deficit a power unit may suffer and instead places an emphasis on chassis performance. A well known indicator of form around Monaco is vehicle performance around the final sector of the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix Fernando Alonso & Jenson Button set the 5th and 9th fastest times through the sector respectively. Whilst it should be said that without misfortune from other teams it is unlikely the Mclaren duo will be in a position to challenge for the top places on the podium, the team are clearly moving in the right direction.

If you are feeling lucky an each way bet on Alonso at 100/1 or Button at 150/1 with William Hill might be worth some serious consideration.

Mclaren Honda technical partners Mobil One continue to bring motorsport to life through exclusive video and written content on the The Grid. The commitment was recently enhanced through the launch of a brand new website. To celebrate the launch of the site Mobil One The Grid are giving away a full size replica of Fernando Alonso’s 2016 helmet. See below for more details, and best of luck!

 

Formula One: Alonso could have split the Williams

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Mclaren Honda continued their resurgence to the top of the grid this weekend with both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finishing in the points, finishing 6th and 10th respectively.

For the first time since his return to the team Alonso appears able to push the car with confidence:

“Fernando drove a brilliant race, displaying all the guile, aggression and opportunism for which he is so well known” commented Racing Director Eric Boullier

The team are confident the result could have been even more impressive. Fuel efficiency is still an issue for the Honda power unit, the Sochi circuit represents most challenging event for fuel consumption on the 2016 calendar. Yusuke Hasegawa Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer commenting:

“We knew that our longer stints were good here, but it was a job well done for our team and drivers to manage our one-stop strategy and fuel-saving during the race, which led to today’s results. 

Eric Boullier went on to comment:

“We can see that we are the team that have a lot of fuel saving for obvious reasons, But with Fernando you could see towards the end of the race he was more than 1.2s faster [per lap]. without fuel saving we’d save another 50s which we would’ve had at the end of the race.”

Had Alonso been able to approach the race without a fuel saving mindset and chased the 50s Boullier refereed to he would have had the pace not only to pass Massa, but also challenge Bottas, elevating his finishing position to 5th, challenging 4th.

Considering challenges the team faced through the 2015 season, progress seen through 2016 to date has been deeply impressive. Honda have 14 development tokens available to them through the 2016 season, leaving the scope to make further advancements significant. Boullier has been keen to point out the Mclaren Racing and Honda are not the only factor contributing to the teams resurgence;

“This race showcases the collective efforts of the entire organisation – not just McLaren Racing and Honda, but also our key technical partner, Mobil 1, whose oil and lubes have played such a key role in our ongoing development. To our partners, too, their faith and belief is starting to be repaid”

Improved performances from the team could make them a formidable challenger by the end of the 2016 season and a genuine contender for 2017. A competitive Mclaren in 2017 could add further spice to ‘silly season’ with many driver contracts expiring at the end of this season.

Mclaren Honda now sit 7th in the  Constructors Championship with all 3 of the teams drivers having scored points this season.

Formula One: Jenson “I love the track”

Mclaren Honda’s Jenson Button discusses his surprise enthusiasm for the Sochi Autodrome  with Mobil 1’s The Grid.  After struggling to pick out landmarks and differentiate corners when learning the track in the simulator, Jenson shares his thoughts on the thrill of driving through the Winter Olympic village and how the characteristics of the track encourage and rewards an aggressive style of driving.

Jenson hopes to register his first points of the 2016 season in Sochi, with the opening three races of the year falling somewhat short of both the team and drivers expectations.

Early indications suggest similar weather conditions for the 2016 running of the Russian Grand Prix to previous years despite the race moving from October to April. This should suit the supersoft tyre compound with which Mclaren have performed strongly this season.

Formula One: Alonso officially cleared to participate in the Chinese Grand Prix

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Following the standard medical check up all drivers are subject to following a racing incident the FIA have formally cleared Fernando Alonso to participate in the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend, but remains subject to further tests.

The FIA have issued the following statement confirming Alonso’s condition:

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Formula One: Button ‘Getting there is pretty crazy!’

In this film for Mobil One’s The Grid Jenson Button previews the Chinese Grand Prix and reflects on his past performances at the circuit and his experiences of Shanghai life and the traffic! Jenson talks through his first time visiting the venue with Mclaren back in 2010, a race  which saw him lead home his teammate Lewis Hamilton to a commanding 1-2 for the team.

After a challenging 2015 then team have made significant progress in performance, with the field leading chassis likely to suit the twisty second sector of the circuit, a sector Jenson particularly enjoys.  The long straights of else where on the track are likely to highlight the top end performance gap Mclaren are still looking to come to terms with, but after taking their first points of the year in Bahrain, the team will be heading to Shanghai with expectations of a repeat performance.