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!
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.
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.
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.
Born March 26th 1992, Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne made his motor racing début aged just 6 years old! In 2010 Stoffel graduated to single seater’s claiming race wins in his maiden F4 season. In 2013 he joined the Mclaren development driver programme and competed alongside fellow Mclaren development driver Kevin Magnussen in Formula Renault 3.5. something Jenson Button was keen to point out in this team mate profile film from 2015:
2014 saw Stoffel join the ART GP2 team, after a strong first season in the category in which he finished runner up to Renault Sport F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, Stoffel continued with the team in 2015 and went on to dominate the series, sealing the championship with Sochi with 5 rounds remaining.
Stoffel Vandoorne is extremely highly regarded across the F1 paddock, with Renault Sport believed to have approached Mclaren over a seat for the Belgian in 2016. It is widely expected that irrespective of this weekend’s developments Stoffel will likely see a full time place on the F1 grid in 2017 and with only two weeks between the Bahrain and Chinese Grand Prix it is possible Stoffel may be required to stand in for Alonso again this season.
With the Formula One close season having taken hold, fans craving that motorsport fix often start to explore other racing series. The 2016 Nascar season kicks off in a little over one month’s time and through a series of short films complied by Mobil 1 The Grid we explore the merits of the series and take a look at areas in which Nascar has the jump on F1.
Guiding Mobil 1 The Grid through this series of films is the Stewart-Haas Racing team, any Formula One fan questioning the credibility of the Haas F1 Team 2016 entry would do well to pay attention here. The shear scale of Stewart-Haas Racing operation is nothing short of breath-taking. The frenetic nature of the Nascar schedule and the teams 4 car line up means that at any given time, the team can have up to 60 race cars moving through the facility. The operation exacts the same if not greater levels of precision and commitment seen through F1.
Through levels of team access unseen in Formula One, crew team member James Keener explains his multiple roles within the Stewart Haas Racing team and the dedication given to not only find success, but continually improve. On the face of it the technology seen in this film may feel somewhat antiquated when compared to an F1 pitstop, but through standardising process and machinery the series have managed to ensure a process remains relatable to the customer and any focus on improvement is on the individual rather than spending money to find an extra tenth of a second. Perhaps F1 could learn from these standardised approaches.
Taking a look through the Stewart Haas Racing paint shop, we get our first indication of what the Haas F1 Racing team livery could look like. The answer pretty much anything! Unlike F1, Nascar offers it’s teams a freedom to change car paint schemes and sponsors on a race by race basis. Teams and drivers are known more by their racing numbers rather than the colours of the car, something F1 has started to emulate in over the past few seasons. In the case of Stewart Haas Racing, the team has secured a series of long term partners, Mobil 1 being one of them. Through the livery freedom afforded to teams, cars offer partners a tool to get involved in promotional activities over the course of a season. This flexibility in colour scheme and length of agreement can be attractive to sponsors, an area in which F1 appears to be increasingly struggling.
Nascar has in the past been perceived by some as antiquated in its approach to safety when compared to other racing series. This perception could not be further from the truth. Nascar is dedicated to continuously raising the bar for the driver and the fan. Working closely with the teams and race venues great moves have been taken to reduce risk without impacting the show.
Finally, Mobil 1 The Grid profiles Danica Patrick. The first lady of Nascar. A true ambassador for the series and for women in motorsport. With the support of the Stewart Haas Racing team Danica Patrick has a established herself as a formidable competitor and within s series in which race craft is key is continually building towards delivering major success for the team. F1 teams would do well to look at long term support Stewart Haas Racing has offered Danica Patrick and how this commitment is paying off.
Nascar ignores the backroom politics and is fully focused on making the show the best it can be for its fans. With levels of access unheard of in the F1 community at a price that won’t break the bank, when you are making your motorsport holiday fix plans for 2016, Nascar deserves serious consideration.
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.
“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:
“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:
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.
“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.”
Courtesy of Mobil 1 The Grid, Alex Rossi previews the US Grand Prix with iZone Driver Performance Racing Simulators
Opinion:Thanks to Mobil 1 The Grid for posting this preview. Alex Rossi’s presence on the F1 grid for the 2015 COTA Grand Prix is great news for the Circuit and Formula One in general. Having an American driver on the grid should serve to further endear the track with locals and heighten the atmosphere at this fantastic venue. the COTA circuit manages to encapsulate some of the greatest corners in recent F1 history and bring them together into one single thrilling lap.
Rossi and the Manor team promised additional sponsorship backing from the Austin GP onwards, with his Californian roots perhaps Alex has been able to tap into the Silicon Valley Billions, adding to the mid season Airbnb partnership, I can picture the Uber Manor F1 team now! A strong showing in Austin should put Rossi in a good position for a full season campaign with the team in 2016.