Formula 1 Honda McLaren

McLaren-Honda – A shaky new era

McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/X1

Between 1988 and 1992, McLaren-Honda dominated Formula 1, winning 44 grands prix and eight world championships. In 2015, that partnership will be reforged. As we get ready for our new era in F1, we invite you inside the garage to witness first-hand the reunion of McLaren and Honda, and watch the MP4-29H/1X1 take to the track for its first ever run.

That bold and forward-looking statement accompanies McLaren’s first on-track video from its reunification with Honda (clip can be seen below). It was released just before the two day post-season test session held in Abu Dhabi. Since then a lot of that optimism will have been lost.

The McLaren-Honda partnership is used to topping the timesheets. Yet, in two days of testing, not one official lap time was registered.

On Day 1 of testing: An electronics issue meant the car spent the morning in the garage, but it broke cover soon after lunch, with test and development driver Stoffel Vandoorne conducting a number of exploratory installation runs throughout the afternoon.

He was halted on a couple of occasions by a fuel/data exchange issue – the second of which left him stranded on the circuit, causing a red flag.

On Day 2 of testing: Despite successfully firing up before the track opened at 9am, our morning programme was scuppered by a hard-to-find electrical issue, which stopped our progress while we traced the cause.

In the afternoon, the team got the car on the track – Stoffel successfully completed an installation lap, and had begun a four-lap run when the car shut down.

Not the best start, yet despite these setbacks, Yasuhisa Arai, Honda’s chief officer of motorsport remained positive.

“This week’s test is really all about performing some fundamental systems checks on the engine before we begin testing in earnest next February,” explained Arai. “When I was at Jerez earlier this year, I noticed just how many issues the teams faced in readying these turbo engines, so we really wanted to get those initial checks under our belts before winter testing starts in 2015.

“The engine we used today is still under development—it’s not for the actual race—and we’re on schedule to develop it further ahead of the forthcoming season. There are a few more steps coming before Australia.

“We’re making good progress for the new season as one team.”

A competitive McLaren-Honda outfit will be great for F1, so let’s hope they’re able to have more success in pre-season testing next year.

Formula 1 Honda McLaren

McLaren-Honda era restarts today

2015 Honda F1 engine

The first tangible steps in the new McLaren-Honda era will take place later today when the team completes a filming day at Silverstone. Confirmed via twitter McLaren will run an MP4-29H1x1 alongside two classic McLaren-Honda F1 cars.

Under Formula 1 regulations the team can run up to 100km as part of its filming days. McLaren is yet to announce its driver pairing for next year and neither Jenson Button nor Kevin Magnussen will be at the wheel. Today’s driving duties will be carried out by Oliver Turvey and Stoffel Vandoorn.

Silverstone’s grand prix circuit is 5.9klm long so McLaren will only get around 16 laps to play with. No doubt there’ll be plenty of pretty pictures and glowing words to follow, which we will share with if we can.

Formula 1 Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel to sit out USGP qualifying

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel expects to miss qualifying for the United States Grand Prix in Austin this weekend due to an enforced penalty for exceeding his allocation of five power units for the year.

“As far as I know, the plan is to use the opportunity to change, to have a sixth component of all the various components,” Vettel said. “Obviously for that as far as the regulations are concerned we have to start from the pitlane.”

As you can see the regulations make the prospect of participating in a pointless qualifying session pretty unattractive.

“For the weekend, our plan could be a little bit different in terms of how we approach practice and qualifying in particular,” Vettel explained. “Once you have to start from the pitlane your focus is not on qualifying because no matter what you do in qualifying it doesn’t matter because you still have to start from the pitlane.

“So that’s why in practice, largely, we will try to focus on the race.”

The grid is already down four cars thanks to the absence for Caterham and Marussia and the prospect of last year’s winner in Austin sitting out quali is not ideal. But as Vettel says, he doesn’t make the rules.

“I didn’t make the rules,” he said. “It’s a rule that is the same for everyone. But for the people come to watch the cars, to watch qualifying, it’s a very bad rule.”

[Source: Autosport | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Caterham Formula 1

How much does it cost to run a Formula 1 team?

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

With confirmation that we’ll only have 18 cars on the grid in Austin this weekend much of the chatter around Formula 1 has been to do with the costs of running a team. People are asking: is F1 in crisis?

Every time serious discussion about putting a cap on spending is raised one of the bigger teams, usually Ferrari or Red Bull, threatens to throw its toys out of the cot in disgust. Clearly, F1 doesn’t want to lose one (or more) of its biggest drawcards and we’re left with a perennial problem; the haves keep winning, which in itself is nothing new, but the have nots keep folding.

The introduction of new regulations this year hasn’t helped matters much. In a bid to highlght the issues at the back of the grid Caterham, Force India, Marussia and Sauber have written to FIA President and former Scuderia Ferrari boss, Jean Todt, saying teams now need around $120 million per year just to stay afloat.

Sauber, usually a team able to compete well with limited funds, hasn’t scored a championship point all year and is currently coming tenth out of 11 teams in the constructors’ title race.

The cost breakdown provided to Todt and revealed by Autosport is as follows:

Windtunnel/CFD facilities$18.5 million
Chassis production/manufacturing$20 million
Hybrid power system$28 million
Gearbox and hydraulics$5 million
Electronics$1.95 million
Fuel and lubricants$1.5 million
Tyres$1.8 million
Salaries (not including drivers)$20 million
IT$3 million
HR and professional services$1.5 million
Utilities and factory maintenance$2 million
Travel and trackside facilities$12 million
Freight$5 million
TOTAL$120.25 million


As well as driver salaries, other items not included in the above list are: building leases, hospitality, marketing and media. Obviously, teams like Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull are spending a lot more than that, while Caterham and Marussia are (or were) spending a lot less.

No form of motorsport, no matter how good it should be, is any good if teams can’t afford to race.

[Source: Autosport+]

Formula 1 Honda McLaren

Listen to the 2015 Honda V6 power unit

2015 Honda F1 engine

Here’s your first chance to hear the 2015 Honda V6 power unit that will power McLaren F1 cars next year.

It’s a sign of the times that the best audio is heard during the opening sequence of this video covering Honda’s proud history in F1, while the actual sound of the new 1.6 litre turbo hybrid is almost drowned out by the background music.

Formula 1 Lotus Mercedes-Benz

Lotus F1 to get Mercedes power in 2015

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Lotus is having a crap year in Formula 1 this year. After being underdog darlings in previous years, now they’re just dogs. Their 2014 got off to a slow start following dramas with the Renault power unit.

They’ll be hoping 2015 is a lot better thanks to a new deal that will see them race with Mercedes power next year. The switch also means dropping Total lubricants in favour of Petronas.

“We are pleased to have been chosen by Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in a significant long term deal,” said Matthew Carter, CEO, Lotus F1 Team. “The Mercedes-Benz Power Unit has shown good performance on track and it is our goal to marry this motive force to Enstone’s chassis expertise. It is our desire that the E23 Hybrid, powered by Mercedes-Benz, heralds a new era of success for Enstone.”

With the McLaren-Honda reunification in 2015 Mercedes said it was important to continue supplying three customer teams with power units; Lotus will join Force-India and Williams.

“It was strategically important for Mercedes-Benz to continue to supply three customers throughout this generation of Power Unit,” said Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. “It was therefore clear that we would be looking for a new customer from 2015.

“Lotus F1 Team is an impressive organisation that has delivered competitive on-track performances in recent seasons. We are pleased to welcome them to the Mercedes-Benz family and look forward to building a productive and performant working relationship in the years ahead.”

Meanwhile, Renault will work more closely with Red Bull in 2015 in a bid to improve the performance of its often troublesome V6 power unit.

Formula 1 Video

28 years of Formula 1 engine sounds

Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing (2008)

If you’re one of the people who think the current V6 power units in Formula 1 sound rubbish here’s a video that should help put things right.

The clip starts back in 1987, the last time the drivers had V6 turbos propelling them, and takes us right through the shrieking normally aspirated V12-V10-V8 era and ends with this year’s aural disappointment.

[Source: rhyswlF1]

Formula 1 Honda McLaren

McLaren could test with Honda engine this year

Eric Boullier, McLaren

The McLaren-Honda reunification could make its track-based return this year, just days after the end of the 2014 season, according to Eric Boullier.

“The safe side is that we’ll obviously be in Jerez with a McLaren-Honda car,” said Boullier, McLaren Racing Director. “But it keeps open to maybe the possibility that if everything is matching in our schedules to run it earlier.”

The only earlier opportunity for McLaren to run with its new Honda power unit would be the post-season Abu Dhabi test which is scheduled for 25–26 November.

“We won’t give a definite answer now because we actually don’t know yet exactly. It’s very likely to be before Jerez. We’ll see,” Boullier added.

Only last week Honda’s Yasuhisa Arai said the company was on track with the development of its V6 power unit and that its debut was expected in the first pre-season test at Jerez in 2015.

[Source: Sky Sports F1 | Pic: McLaren]

Ferrari Formula 1

Haas F1 signs Ferrari engine deal

Gene Haas

The Amercian-based Haas F1 team has announced it will race with Ferrari power units when it takes to the Formula 1 grid in 2016.

“There is no team in Formula One more accomplished than Scuderia Ferrari, and no team with more history. They’ve been a part of Formula 1 from the beginning, and now they’ll be a part of Haas F1 Team’s beginning,” said Gene Haas.

“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsports. It showcases the latest technology and is the most competitive form of racing in the world. Aligning Haas F1 Team with such a tenured and successful company in Scuderia Ferrari provides our team with the greatest opportunity for success in 2016 and beyond.”

As is the norm in F1 this has been described as a “multi-year deal” although the exact terms remain confidential. Gene Haas’ CNC business, Haas Automation, signed a sponsorship deal with Scuderia Ferrari a few months back and the alignment of his F1 team with Ferrari was therefore expected.

[Pic: Getty Images]

Honda McLaren

Honda on track for 2015 Formula 1 return

Ayrton Senna, 1991 Belgian GP

In an interview with the official Formula 1 website Honda’s Yasuhisa Arai has confirmed the McLaren-Honda deal is exclusive for one season only and that they will consider supplying other teams from 2016 if there is demand.

Arai also stated it is unlikely that Honda will run its V6 power unit in earnest before 2015 pre-season testing begins in Jerez.

“We are absolutely within our development plan,” Arai told “Our engine—or more precisely our power unit—is ready for a whole system check, but without the chassis. It will still need more time to bring the power unit and chassis together and then be able to run checks with the complete car.

“In the next couple of weeks we will run simulations and at the beginning of next year we will start to run on the track—very likely at Jerez. That will very likely be the first time to show the whole car, the Honda engine and the McLaren chassis—the Honda McLaren.”

Follow the link below for the full Q&A article.

[Source: | Pic: Cahier Archive]

Formula 1

26 seconds is all it takes to help save the planet

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

While Formula 1 continues to find its way in the new V6 power unit era we’ve heard a lot of moaning about how slow the cars are compared with the normally aspirated and relatively thirsty engines of recent years. Perhaps over a single lap that may be the case, but what about over a full race distance?

The table below compares the total time elapsed for the first four races of 2013 against the same events from 2014. Due to differences in tyre degredation and other possible variables we do acknowledge this is not a foolproof measure to establish the outright speed of the new fuel efficient regime.

We also have to stress that the Chinese Grand Prix was supposed to run for 56 laps, which it did in theory. So the total elapsed time for the full 56 laps is shown below, rather than the 54 lap result which came about due to the chequered flag first being waved on lap 55.



As you can see, the result in China shows it took Lewis Hamilton around 26 seconds longer to win in the race in 2014 compared with Fernando Alonso’s race winning time from 2013. That’s less than 0.5 seconds per lap slower while using around 33% less fuel. A small price to pay, don’t you agree?

If you compare Lewis’ 2013 result in China—he finished third, 12.3 seconds behind Alonso—the gap to his 2014 result is even closer—around 14 seconds—just 0.25 seconds per lap across the full race distance.

This stat has been highlighted by Joe Saward, who argues the FIA has not been proactive enough to promote this early success of the new world era:

Now that is what I call getting a better bang for your buck. And I’m willing to bet that by the end of the year the gap will have closed more and, perhaps, the races will be run even faster than they were 12 months ago.

So who has highlighted these statistics? Who has told the world that F1 is doing a brilliant job for them? If no-one says this stuff how can the sport to sell the success of its new engine formula? That leaves the way open for the naysayers and the vested interests to promote their negative messages about the sport.

Saward makes a great point. Follow the link below to read his thoughts in full.

[Source: Joe Saward]

Formula 1 Mercedes-Benz Video

Why is the Mercedes AMG F1 W05 so good?

Mercedes AMG F1 W05 turbo design

The Mercedes AMG F1 W05 has been untouchable so far this season. That’s no surprise, though, because the team dominated pre-season testing and has backed that up by winning the first three races of the year. So what makes the 2014 Silver Arrow so good?

In short, the answer centres around the design of its turbo. Despite what SkySports F1 will tell you this was first discussed by Scarbs back in March. But it’s still worth taking a look at this piece from Sky as described by Martin Brundle.

Looking at the image above the car on the left has a conventional turbo design, while the one on the right, illustrating the W05, shows a split turbo arrangement. The air compressor is placed at the front of the engine where it has better access to cooler air, while the turbine remains at the rear to make use of the exhaust gasses.

The net result of that change is that the turbo is more efficient, it allows for better weight distribution and improved aero packaging at the rear of the car.

So why aren’t all Mercedes-powered cars fighting for race wins? The story we’ve heard is that the customer teams did not get the full details of the new PU 106 A Hybrid V6 power unit until they had signed contracts. Whereas Mercedes AMG was able to develop the W05 from the start with full knowledge of the split turbo design, allowing it to better refine its aero and other packaging.

It’s a simple concept that must be incredibly difficult to implement, otherwise you wonder why nobody else has done it. Moreover, you’d have to think this concept has wider applications beyond motorsport too, into the cars we drive on the streets.

[Thanks to Tiaan for the tip]