McLaren ‘not at all’ worried about Renault reliability

Date published: January 20 2018

Although Renault had a torrid time in the latter half of last season with the reliability of their power units, McLaren are confident they’ve taken measures to resolve it.

Swapping to Renault power ahead of this year’s championship, McLaren are hoping for more pace and better reliability than what they had with Honda.

The latter, though, wasn’t Renault’s strong suit in the second half of last year’s championship so much so that Toro Rosso and Renault engaged in a public war of words.

Despite their troubles, which also affected Red Bull and the Renault’s work team, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier believe the French manufacturer will get it right this season.

He told France’s Auto Hebdo: “Not at all. Renault has taken the necessary measures and made great efforts to make progress in this area.”

McLaren have also had to do their part, adapting their car to the Renault power unit.

“The employees voluntarily worked throughout the holidays,” Boullier added.

“Everyone has taken the news about the transition to Renault very positively, and we are working perfectly with our new supplier already,”

As for going up against Red Bull and Renault with the same engine, Boullier denied that it ramps up the pressure, saying it is instead motivating.

“We do not feel additional pressure. On the contrary.

“The team is motivated by the fact that we will have two strong rivals in Red Bull and Renault. McLaren is in formula one to perform, not for the numbers,” he said.

McLaren and Toro Rosso confirm launch dates

Date published: January 19 2018

McLaren will unveil their 2018 Renault-powered MCL33 on February 23 with Toro Rosso’s STR13 breaking covers two days later.

This season McLaren will race with Renault power after saying goodbye to Honda.

The swap meant McLaren were forced to make a few changes to the car, however, technical director Tim Goss says they managed to do so “without any significant compromise to the chassis.”

McLaren will launch the new car on February 23.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso, who will use Honda engines this season, will take the covers off their STR13 on the eve of testing.

The team has booked February 25 for their launch.

2018 F1 launch dates so far
Ferrari: February 22
Mercedes: February 22
McLaren: February 23
Toro Rosso: February 25

McLaren to announce new sponsors ‘this month’

Date published: January 18 2018

Ahead of what they believe will be a much improved season for the team, McLaren are poised to announce several “leaders, captains of industry, great sectors” as new partners.

McLaren have not had a title sponsors since the end of the 2013 season and Vodafone’s departure.

However, McLaren chief Zak Brown is adamant he’s not looking for a new one as he feels the McLaren brand should stand alone.

Instead he’s been in the hunt for new partners for the team and says announcements will come later this month.

“So we have a really good level of interest [from sponsors], a great level of interest,” he told RACER.

“Given my years of experience I like where we are. Sponsorship doesn’t count until it hits the bottom line, so all you can really do is feel how much activity you have, how many guests you’re entertaining, how many companies you’re talking to, are they the right companies and are you talking to the right people? All that is tick, tick, tick.

“We’re talking substantial conversations with lots of great brands. We’ve signed a few and we’ll start announcing them this month. You’ve heard of all of them.

“They are the types of partners you would expect McLaren to have – leaders, captains of industry, great sectors – but we’ve got a ways to go. I’m not anticipating unveiling the car and there’s no room left on the car.”

Brown believes it is McLaren’s decision to swap from Honda to Renault engines, a move that is expected to elevate them up the order, that has drawn the attention of potential sponsors.

“It was impossible to sell in the previous era – you’re taking prospects on the grid and you’re getting pushed from the back of the grid in Bahrain, that’s pretty hard to sell.

“Then when we moved to Renault there’s been an instantaneous, ‘We believe in the McLaren-Renault partnership,’ and that was one of the big decisions we made. Not only did we need to be competitive on track but it was hurting us off track.

“So that rebuilding process is starting now but that’s going to take some time. I knew last year that even if things are going well, the sponsor stuff that’s going on now I’ve been working for six months on. So when I started in December, 2017 was already gone, but the reason we needed to make the decision was if we had waited any longer we would have lost 2018.

“So we’ve had sufficient time to build relationships and you’re going to start to see more. I think it will take another year or two to really get to where we want to be – it’s not going to happen overnight.”

McLaren: Renault decision made just in time

Date published: January 18 2018

Acknowledging that the Renault and Honda engines are “very different”, McLaren’s technical director Tim Goss says the team made the decision to swap “just in time.”

This season McLaren will race Renault engines after calling it quits on an unsuccessful three-year partnership with Honda.

After months of speculation, the swap was eventually confirmed at the end of September with Goss saying it left McLaren with “just” enough time to adapt their 2018 chassis to the new engine.

“The Renault architecture is very different,” Goss told Autosport.

“You have two fundamental engine architectures out there. You have the Mercedes/Honda approach, and you have got the Ferrari/Renault approach.

“Essentially the difference comes down to where the turbocharger sits.

“The Mercedes/Honda approach is you have the compressor on the front of the engine, the turbine on the back of the engine and the MGU-H sat in the middle of the V.

“The Ferrari/Renault approach is that you have got the compressor sat at the back of the engine, the MGU-H behind it and the turbine behind that.

“They require a very different approach to your chassis and your gearbox, and now we have had recent experience of both we can see there are pros and cons of both.

“There are things I love about the Renault approach and there are things that frustrate me a little bit, but in the end we were fortunate that the decision to move from one engine to another was made just in time.

“It couldn’t have been made any later.”

He revealed that McLaren were forced into making several changes, not only to the chassis but also the gearbox and cooling.

Goss, though, reckons they succeeded in adapting without any “significant compromise” to the car.

“We had to reconfigure the chassis, change the cooling system and reconfigure the gearbox to make it fit,” he added.

“But we’ve managed that in time without any significant compromise to the chassis. It was quite a big change.

“The Renault engine will sit further forward in the chassis. With the Honda you had the air intake that had to come down into the front of the engine, and that volume came out of your fuel cell. So as a result, the chassis was longer.

“But then what you hadn’t got was a turbocharger sat off the back of the engine, which then gets in the way of your inboard suspension.

“So you ended up with a much easier task at the back of the engine.

“When you move to a Renault, suddenly the front of the engine becomes a lot simpler and as the result we win back a substantial amount of fuel volume.

“You can push the engine forwards and the aerodynamic blockage of the engine and exhaust is considerably better, because that has moved forwards behind the chassis.

“But then you have a turbocharger that is sat in the bellhousing and to accommodate that you have to redesign your rear suspension internals and lengthen the gearbox.

“But we’ve done a fantastic job. A really fantastic job.

“It was very, very intense. We had two weeks of very intense effort to get it sorted, but we knew pretty much what we needed to do.”

Whitmarsh drafted in to advise on cost cap

Date published: January 17 2018

Former McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has been drafted in by the FIA to advise on cost control measures for Formula 1.

New owners Liberty Media, who took over the sport at the start of 2017, are keen to bring down the costs of competing in Formula 1.

One such way it to introduce a cost cap with $150m being touted as the possible limit.

As such Whitmarsh, who left McLaren in 2014 after 25 years with the company, has been called in to consult.

An FIA spokesman said: “Whitmarsh has accepted an invitation to work with the FIA on a temporary basis in order to support it in defining financial regulations for fair and sustainable competition in the FIA F1 world championship.”

‘McLaren will find it tough against RRB, Renault’

Date published: January 16 2018

Nigel Mansell says he hopes Renault will be “very fair” in dealing with McLaren as they join Red Bull and Renault on the engine manufacturer’s list.

This season McLaren will race Renault engines after saying farewell to Honda after three dismal seasons.

The swap is expected to yield a massive step forward for McLaren with the Woking team adamant their biggest problem of late has been the engine, not the car.

However, how big a step could be determined by Renault’s fair play.

“It’s going to be tough, but hopefully they will be able to get very close and hopefully Renault will be very fair with the supplying of engines,” former champ Mansell told Motorsport.tv at the Autosport International show.

“Obviously, Mercedes don’t want to supply them because they don’t want them as competitors.

“The hardest thing in F1 is to get a level playing field.

“We need a better level playing field, we need 26 cars on the grid and we need not to be able to spend fortunes to try and bend the regulations.”

Brown: Never any ultimatums from Alonso

Date published: January 15 2018

Zak Brown insists Fernando Alonso never gave McLaren any ultimatums about his future if they didn’t drop engine supplier Honda.

Alonso was notably frustrated with Honda’s form in the third season of their partnership with McLaren.

A lack of reliability and pace meant the Spaniard and his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne were once again struggling to score points.

After a third season of more grid penalties than points, McLaren finally decided to drop Honda in favour of a new deal with Renault.

Read more from Planet Sport: The story from day one at the Australian Open (Tennis365)

That, though, wasn’t because of any ultimatum from Alonso.

“I have often heard that he gave us ultimatums but I want to assure you that this has never been the case,” F1i.com quotes Brown as having said during the Autosport International Show.

“He just wanted us to be competitive again.

“I think he would have stayed if we felt we’d been competitive staying where we were [with Honda]. I think he would have bought into that.

“[But] he has great history with Renault.”

Alonso will remain with McLaren for the 2018 season, once again partnering Vandoorne and Brown is hoping it will be a better campaign for the McLaren team.

“We haven’t made him any promises other than we want to get back to the front,” the McLaren CEO added. “He knows that. He knows what we’re capable of.”