Category Archives: Mclaren

Formula One: Where next for Graeme Lowdon?

Lowdon

After battling to bring the Manor Marussia team to the F1 grid in 2015, Graeme Lowdon and John Booth officially terminated their agreements with the team on November 20th  , leaving Steven Fitzpatrick, Abdulla Boulsien, and Vincent Casey as the remaining registered directors of the team. At this time, it is not clear if the name Manor will leave the team with Graeme and John, but it is understood a name change was discussed in a recent strategy group review. It should also be noted a holding company Just Racing is registered alongside Manor Grand Prix Racing at the team headquarters in Banbury.

Both Graeme Lowdon and John Booth are highly respected figures in the F1 paddock, as is the racing pedigree of Manor. Until a recent interview for Sky Sports it was believed Lowdon and Booth came as a pair, and the partnership would be unlikely to be seen in F1 in the near future. However, during the interview suggestion was made that Graeme Lowdon may be joining another team on the grid in a new capacity. In addition, the launch of the ‘@realmanor’ twitter handle suggests the name may continue to be used in the future away from the current team.

With a future as part of the team formally know as Manor Marussia seemingly out of the question, this article will explore the possible new home on the 2016 grid for Graeme and the likelyhood of each.  It has been assumed that any new role would be for a UK based team, and that despite questionable management decisions made at Red Bull Racing in recent seasons, management remain supportive of the current structure. Given the changes with the Renault F1 team a move towards Enstone has also been disregarded at this time.

Williams F1 Team:

Despite finishing 3rd in the 2015 Constructors Championship the Williams F1 Team and drivers have voiced disappointment with the team performance, seemingly unable to extract that final element of performance required to mount a genuine challenge for the top step. This coupled with a number of blunders in pitstop procedures and rumours of senior management moving to new challenges with the Haas F1 Team, perhaps the pragmatic no nonsense racing approach adopted by Graeme Lowdon would sit well alongside the commercial savvy of Claire Williams.

Sahara Force India F1 Team:

Change in team branding and possibly ownership is expected in the near future, Graeme Lowdon and even the Manor brand could offer racing pedigree and a steady hand during a possibly lively management period.

Haas F1 Team:

Success in F1 comes through experience. Graeme Lowdon has highly relevant experience to any new team joining the sport, he knows how to run a team on a budget and optimise all resources available. He also has practical experience of working with Scuderia Ferrari and knows the Haas UK headquarters well.

Mclaren Honda:

Ron Dennis has publically stated the team will be making a series imminent management changes, it is possible the team may again look to split the role of Team Principle bringing in a head such as Graeme Lowdon could be bring a fresh perspective on how to approach racing, and reduce the burden of responsibility on Éric Boullier.

In conclusion, it would be possible to draw sound rationale for any of the afore mentioned teams to be keen on attracting Lowdon’s services. The question should also be which prospect would be appealing to him. Outside of motorsport Graeme Lowdon is a successful entrepreneur, co founding Nomad Digital, providers of Wifi and wireless systems in transportation networks. His success away from the F1 grid allows him a security that he does not ‘need’ the sport.  Either way it is highly unlikely any announcement will be made until the new year, but of the teams mentioned the most likely would seem to be either the Haas F1 Team in a bid to further strengthen the management structure or what could be a very exciting challenge with Force India.

That being said those fashion aware amongst you may have noticed since leaving the Manor Massuisa team Graeme elected to wear blue in most public appearances. Which team wears blue?

Advertisements

Formula One: McLaren-Honda and Jenson Button renew partnership with Santander

Jenson Button in the garage.

McLaren-Honda have announced  the extension of its partnership with leading bank Santander UK plc.

The agreement is set to continue the partnership for a further five years until the end of 2020, with British driver and 2009 F1™ World Champion, Jenson Button, continuing to feature prominently in Santander campaigns.

Having first partnered together in 2007, McLaren-Honda and Santander have enjoyed a long and successful relationship. Since then, McLaren-Honda and Jenson Button have appeared in many of Santander’s campaigns, including a number of TV adverts, the launch of Santander’s vision for a London Grand Prix in 2012, ‘Secret Santa’ customer surprises and, most recently, the ‘Summer of Cycling’ events on Santander Cycles across London.

McLaren has played an important role in helping establish and grow the Santander brand in the UK, where it is now a household name and has become the nation’s most switched-to bank, attracting one in four new retail customers.

Ekrem Sami, managing director of McLaren Marketing, said: “Santander and McLaren-Honda have enjoyed an incredibly strong and mutually beneficial relationship since 2007. Our renewed partnership demonstrates a well-founded belief in the team’s ability to successfully activate brands around a shared, common vision for the future. I look forward to developing the relationship and hope to see it continue to go from strength to strength for both brands.”

Keith Moor, chief marketing officer for Santander UK, added: “Our sponsorship of McLaren and Jenson Button has played an important role in helping Santander build a strong awareness across the UK, helping to establish ourselves as a scale challenger to the ‘Big 4’ banks with the 1I2I3 Current Account and, more recently, support our launch of the Santander Cycles scheme in London.”

Jenson Button, McLaren-Honda driver, said: “I’m really pleased to continue working with Santander, as is everyone at McLaren-Honda. We’ve enjoyed a great partnership to date and I look forward to that continuing. While first and foremost I’m a racing driver, I’m also a passionate cyclist, and so I’m looking forward to doing more with Santander Cycles and helping encourage more people to get involved.”

So we can expect more FANTASTIC adverts like this in 2016!

Click here to follow the SantanderGP Twitter feed.

Click here to follow Jenson Button on Twitter.

Formula One: Mclaren top the time sheets in Abu Dhabi

MclarenAbuDhabi

McLaren’s driver Stoffel Vandoorne set fastest time today at the end of the 12-hour tyre test organised by Pirelli on the smooth surface of the Yas Marina circuit.
The session took place non-stop throughout the day, with the expected bright sun and warm temperatures starting out at around 24°C ambient (35°C asphalt) and reaching 28° and 40° respectively by lunchtime.

The session started with all the drivers running some laps on base tyre to confirm the set-up of the cars and using P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Yellow soft tyres: the nominated choice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend.

Testing with the prototype tyres (new ultrasoft compound and new constructions both front and rear) started around one and a half hours into the session. The Teams tested several different potential variations of the new ultrasoft compound, from which one will eventually be selected.
Prototype tyres were not marked with any colours or other visible markings, while base tyres carried the usual colours on sidewalls.

The test was ‘blind’: neither the drivers nor the Teams knew which kind of tyre specification they were testing. During the test, the teams were not allowed to try new parts or change any other components, keeping the focus on the tyres. With its smooth surface, consistent temperatures, and wide variety of technical corners, Abu Dhabi was a perfect venue in which to assess most key aspects of tyre behaviour.

The session started at 9am local time and went on till nearly 9pm with no lunch break. This made it the longest single-day Formula One group test in the sport’s history.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “We had one shot when it came to testing tyres for next season, and we can be satisfied by what we’ve achieved in this test, even if we have to fully analyze the data. We’ve tested different versions of the new ultrasoft compound for 2016, which was one of the targets for this session. The ultrasoft’s target for 2016 is to introduce a compound softer than the supersoft and mainly designed as agressive choice for street circuits: with better performance than the latest version of the supersoft tyre and faster degradation, in order to allow the Teams to take a more aggressive approach to race strategy.

Whether this will produce more pit stops, or any difference in strategies, it’s too early to say for now. We will fully analyse our data and team telemetry once we get back to base. But it seems we are heading in the right direction: the ultrasoft is expected to offer more possibilities for certain races.

We also tested some different constructions for both front and rear tyres.

Fastest times of the day:
Driver Team Time Laps
Vandoorne McLaren 1m44.103s 99
Raikkonen Ferrari 1m44.456s 56
Ericsson Sauber 1m44.480s 50
J. Palmer Lotus 1m44.568s 90
Vettel Ferrari 1m44.940s 56
Wehrlein Mercedes 1m45.605s 107
Ricciardo Red Bull 1m45.805s 57
Verstappen Toro Rosso 1m45.849s 54
Hulkenberg Force India 1m45.852s 71
Bottas Williams 1m45.940s 103
Kvyat Red Bull 1m46.309s 48
Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1m46.995s 56
Fong Sauber 1m48.439s 57
Celis Jr Force India 1m48.545s 65
Haryanto Manor 1m49.593s 56
King Manor 1m49.661s 59

For reference the times set during this session are comparable to those set in FP1 during the Abu Dhabi GP weekend, during which only Mercedes set faster lap times. At this time it is not clear to what extent the tyres may have improved laptimes, or if a “cliff” with the ultrasoft compound has been identified.

 

Formula One: McLaren’s learning sessions + Win Driver Helmets

Jenson Button on track.
Jenson Button on track.

As the challenging 2015 season draws to a close Mclaren took today’s free practice sessions in Abu Dhabi to focus on 2016 developments.

Today’s were a busy pair of practice sessions: not only did we refine MP4-30 for its last competitive outing on Sunday, but we also spent a considerable amount of time collecting and correlating data for use for our 2016 car.

Fernando’s car ran with a test rear suspension set-up for today, and he also ran an interim 2016-spec steering wheel. Both drivers conducted aero correlation work as we continue to improve our understanding of our car’s behaviour, with a view to optimising next year’s chassis.

Fernando Alonso:

FP1 1m45.865s (+2.111s) 20 laps 14th
FP2 1m42.955s (+0.972s) 31 laps 9th

“Many things could be behind this afternoon’s performance: first, I think we’ve made some improvements to the car – the team has kept pushing hard to bring performance. But, second, we probably ran the Supersoft tyre at the optimal point of the session, a little bit later than the others.

“I’m happy with the car, and our progress, but, unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be ninth-fastest tomorrow.

“I tried the Supersoft on my long run – as we expected, there’s a bit of graining on that particular tyre, so the race will be tough, but it’ll be the same for everybody”

To close out the year Mobil 1’s Grid TV are giving away a scale replica of Fernando Alonso’s helmet to enter the competition follow the below link:

 

 

Jenson Button:

 “Our side of the garage was trying very different things from Fernando’s. Our programme was all about gaining an understanding for next year. I’ll be changing my car over to his settings tomorrow, which’ll make it a bit more enjoyable, but it’s all useful learning. “Fernando’s performance was very encouraging – we’re pretty happy with that – it’s very promising. I’ll be running that set-up on my car tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes. “Our biggest issue on the Supersoft tyre is overheating in the final sector. That makes the car quite pointy, so it’s about looking after the rears while also pushing the fronts hard to make them work in the first sector. It’s a tricky balance and will make for an interesting race.”

 

Mobil 1’s Grid TV are giving away a  1:2 replica of Jenson Buttons’s helmet to enter the competition follow the below link:

 

 

Eric Boullier

This was a very busy day, as we had a number of important test items to evaluate during free practice. Happily, we made good progress, and we’ve got some very useful data to take home and study as we busy ourselves with preparations for next year’s car.

“Moreover, it was pleasing to see Fernando set a time on the Supersoft tyre that was within a second of the fastest time of the afternoon; to have achieved that, on a circuit that we did not expect to favour our package, was encouraging, and bodes well for the rest of the weekend.

“Jenson didn’t find a comfortable balance in either of today’s sessions, something which was probably exacerbated by the shift in conditions from day into night, which didn’t smooth his progress.

“Nevertheless, we have a good baseline to take forward into tomorrow, and we’ll make progress tonight – of that you can be certain.

Yasuhisa Arai

“Our first day of the last race in Abu Dhabi went smoothly. Both FP1 and FP2 sessions were completed according to the run-plans, and we were able to confirm the data-mapping on both power units.

“Fernando’s car had a high-voltage sensor go into fail mode at the very end of FP1, but a quick parts replacement was all that was necessary to prepare for FP2. He had a very good feel for the car during the evening session, and seemed satisfied with the overall set-up of the car and the power unit.

“Jenson ran smoothly during both sessions, but seemed to struggle to get the spot-on settings that he preferred. However, we gained an abundance of data from both drivers today, so it will be a busy night to analyse and further tweak the set-up tomorrow in preparation for qualifying and the race on Sunday.”

Formula One: #placesalonsowouldratherbe how Hilton not F1 got it wrong.

 

#placesalonsowouldratherbe

 

F1 news over the past 48 hours has been dominated with journalists commenting on how Formula One Management should wake up to social media and could have capitalised on the viral event that was #placesalonsowouldratherbe. In many respects the comments are correct; the viral event demonstrated that there is a quick thinking well humoured proportion of the F1 community with impressive photo editing skills. To have this level of engagement is something Formula One Management should be proud of and embrace. Perhaps, for example, through a 3 part competition run by sponsor Tata Communications (@tata_comm) evaluating the graphical content and future broadcast plans for the sport.

Putting the viral event into perspective, #placesalonsowouldratherbe saw 14,500 imprints on twitter; this is less than 15% of the total number of imprints from #BrazilGP, the event specific naming convention used by the Formula One twitter feed. Taking this a step further the Formula One Qualifying broadcast will likely have been seen by an audience of at least 20,000,000 people (a very conservative number even taking into consideration the current decline in F1 viewing figures) this would mean that 0.07% of the F1 audience participated in this viral event. Is this really an audience the Formula One Management Twitter feed should be seeking to capitalise on?

I’ve read a number of articles commenting that other sports or racing series do a far better job than Formula One on engaging with fans through social media, and whilst it can be argued that prior to the 2015 season this would be accurate it is no longer correct. The Formula One Twitter feed serves as an information point, providing exclusive pre and post-race content. It does not engage in conversation with followers, fans or teams, and why would it? Would it be an effective use of resources? I have read comments that Formula E and other racing series do a better job at engaging with their fan base through social media, on this point I disagree. The main twitter feed for Formula E operates in the same way as the Formula One feed. On occasion the individual maintaining the feed will acknowledge or respond to messages, but only in an informative style and this can only be achieved due to scale of the audience. The reputation Formula E has with respect to social media is borne out of the team and sponsor engagement.

Again some perspective @F1 has 1.68M followers on twitter, @FIAFormulaE has 76K followers on twitter. It is not realistic to expect Formula One Management to engage with fans in the same way Formula E can, the resource requirement is not realistic. @SauberF1Team has over 300K followers (the smallest of any F1 team) @AmlinAndretti has 13K followers (the most of any Formula E team) it is not realistic to expect the same level of engagement from teams in each series.

In my opinion, the #placesalonsowouldratherbe viral event served to demonstrate a failing not from @F1 but from that of @MclarenF1 and its sponsors. Many Formula One team sponsors have taken to live tweeting during on-track action, commenting on events as they unfold, commonplace with feeds such as Mobil’s @Grid1TV, or on the progress of their respective team or drivers seen with Force India F1 team sponsor @hypeenergy for example. I understand there are restrictions on the usage of team branding without agreement for fear or misrepresenting the team brand or ethos but imagine if the Hilton Group had taken the #placesalonsowouldratherbe viral event and placed Alonso in the lobby of their flagship hotel, or if they turned the hashtag into a discount code for online bookings.

For me the failing of the #placesalonsowouldratherbe viral was that sponsors did not react quickly enough. Perhaps it is time for the teams, not F1, to further adapt to social media. Give sponsors a freedom to engage in a way they believe their followers will respond.

 

 

As a side note, the image of Alonso used in this article, in every #placesalonsowouldratherbe tweet and subsequent article is the property of FOM. It was taken from their broadcast feed. FOM would be entirely within their rights to pursue copyright infringement cases for each use. The F1 of old may have taken this approach. F1 has is embracing social media.

Formula One: Mclaren-Honda confirm Hilton partnership extension to 2019

Mclaren Hilton

McLaren-Honda today announced the extension of its corporate partnership with leading global hospitality company Hilton Worldwide by an additional year until the end of 2019. The renewal coincides with the 10th anniversary of the partnership, which began in the autumn of 2005, and will be marked by ‘Hilton.com – book direct’ sidepod branding on the McLaren-Honda MP4-30s at two strategically key races – the US Grand Prix, in Austin, Texas, starting this weekend, and the Mexican Grand Prix, which returns to the F1 calendar after a 23-year absence, in Mexico City.

Speaking about the new deal, Aligi Gardenghi, vice-president marketing, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Hilton Worldwide, said, “We are delighted to be extending our partnership with McLaren-Honda, providing the team with a home from home at the majority of race locations they travel to across our 4,440 hotels worldwide.

“It is through key partnerships like this that we continue to be able to offer our Hilton HHonors members exciting, authentic, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences which they can use their points to redeem through our Hilton HHonors auction site.”

McLaren Technology Group Chairman and CEO, Ron Dennis, added, “It’s extremely satisfying to see a global player such as Hilton underline its confidence and commitment to the McLaren brand by signing a renewal through until the end of 2019. That really emphasises the importance we place on nurturing and building long-term relationships with like-minded corporate partners.

“This is an exciting period of growth for the racing organisation, and this announcement clearly demonstrates the enduring appeal and longevity of McLaren. It is one of the sports world’s most enduring and iconic brands.”

OPINION: Hilton extending it’s partnership with Mclaren-Honda serves to underline the faith placed upon the relationship to deliver brand exposure which will only be achieved through improved performance. This announcement coupled with the recently confirmed Chandon partnership for 2016 demonstrate the underlying credibility of the Mclaren brand. 

Increased branding in countries of particular relevance to corporate partners is rapidly becoming the norm with across all teams, perhaps it is time for FOM and the FIA to review sporting regulations around freedoms in livery change during the season.

Formula One – Mclaren Honda – #TurboHeros Campaign

#TurboHeros

Over the last 24-hours, you may have noticed McLaren-Honda’s social channels sharing some rather unusual posts…

Introducing the #TurboHeroes campaign.

Join the mighty Turbo Heroes, McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, as they battle the evil racer Exhaustus. Follow the thrilling journey across the globe in a tense battle to return mythical artefact – the Jade Dragon of Suzuka – to its spiritual home in Japan.

Turbo Heroes evokes the classic 8-bit gaming era of the 1980s with a series of innovative and unique gaming scenarios involving McLaren-Honda’s two racing heroes.

Watch Now

Opinion – Keen to move on from what must be one of the most challenging racing weekends in the history of the team, Mclaren have started the week well with the announcement of new sponsorship agreement with Chandon this morning, alongside kicking off this #TurboHeros campaign. This, hopefully first of many, films plays on the 80’s style games console memories, similar to the short film the team released prior to the car launch at the beginning of the year. The team successfully bring some much needed humour back to the sport in general and for themselves. These kind of Japanese themed campaigns will hopefully put to bed the continued rumours of unrest between Mclaren and Honda. They may also hint towards future additional Japanese partners….