Analysis: Will Vandoorne be a case of deja vu for Alonso?
By: Adam Cooper, F1 Reporter
Ten years ago Fernando Alonso was about to head into his first season as a McLaren driver, with a hot young prospect groomed by the team as his new teammate.
A decade on and the Spaniard finds himself in an uncannily similar situation.
Having been partnered by contemporaries Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button over recent seasons, Alonso is once again alongside a highly-rated F1 newcomer.
But does the man himself see any similarities between his turbulent 2007 season with Lewis Hamilton and 2017 with Stoffel Vandoorne?
"Every teammate I met after Hamilton it was the same question," he smiles when asked by Motorsport.com.
"When I joined Renault, the following year, it was Piquet. So they said, 'GP2 frontrunner, a young guy, so it will be the same as Hamilton.' It was not. Then it was Grosjean. They said, 'GP2 frontrunner, in 2009 Grosjean will be very fast.' He was not fast.
"Same with Felipe. 'Be careful, because in Ferrari, many years for Felipe, he's used to the team, he will be very fast.' He was not fast.
"Then it was Kimi, they were saying, 'A world champion is coming back to Ferrari, he's very, very fast.' He was not fast.
"Let's see how is Stoffel. I am not worried, we are not at the moment in a title position, or a title contender, so that we need to fight.
"Now we are in a moment where we need to work together, and we need to help the team in whatever way we can to make this difficult period as short as possible.
"So I'm happy with the arrival of Stoffel, new fresh air, very talented in GP2 and in Japan this year. But I'm not afraid..."
But should Alonso be afraid? All the signs suggest that Vandoorne is an exceptional talent, and that from the start he will be a force to be reckoned with, just as Hamilton was.
However, as Alonso says, they won't be fighting for race wins and the title – at least for now – so it will be a very different vibe in the camp compared with a decade ago.
There is another major difference between the 2007 and 2017 situations. Last time around Alonso was only three and a half years older than his teammate, and this time the gap is more than a decade.
The two drivers are at completely different stages of their careers, and Alonso is older and wiser and perhaps better able to deal with whatever challenge comes his way.
Vandoorne himself agrees that they have to work together for the good of the team, but he also concedes that faring well against one of the biggest stars of the modern era can only be good for him.
"I'll do my best for the team, which is the main focus at the moment, to get McLaren Honda back to the top," the Belgian said in Abu Dhabi. "Of course with Fernando I have a very strong teammate, which is rather positive for me.
"Everybody knows his qualities. He's a double world champion. I think the stats explain enough. I'm looking forward to being alongside him. If I fare well, then it's positive for my career as well."
Vandoorne says he's learned a lot watching Alonso this year: "I think the way he prepares his weekend is quite interesting, and as well he's one of the drivers that just delivers in every condition.
"Every time he's out, he will be there, and he will be doing a good job. So for me it's good to have a benchmark like that next year."
Like Hamilton, Vandoorne was well prepared by McLaren as he came through the ranks, but there were a couple of notable differences.
Hamilton went straight from winning the GP2 title with ART to F1, while Vandoorne had an extra year of learning, which was very fruitfully spent combining a Super Formula programme with being fully embedded with the F1 team on grand prix weekends.
He also enjoyed the unplanned bonus of having got his debut out of the way in Bahrain back in April, when he stood in for Alonso and finished 10th.
What he hasn't done is much testing - just a session here or a session there since McLaren gave him his first chance in 2014. This season, for example, the Belgian had two days of wet tyre Pirelli running at Paul Ricard in January, with the old car, followed by one day apiece in Barcelona and Silverstone.
Spending time with McLaren at races was obviously useful, but there's only so much you can glean by standing in the garage with headphones on, or listening in at debriefings.
"I think every weekend is more or less the same," Vandoorne explains. "When you've done it a couple of times you know how procedures work and how you work with the team.
"Every weekend there are new bits on the car, but when you're not in the car it's difficult to feel what's going on and to make an opinion on it. I think next year will be a lot better when I can feel everything myself, start working with the team and push things forward.
"I've been doing this a while now, and the only difference will be that next year I will be in the car. I know the people at McLaren, I've been with them a long time, worked with a lot of the guys, so it feels very comfortable for me to be here. So I just can't wait to be in the car now."
Super Formula useful
McLaren's decision to send Vandoorne to Japan was a wise one, and he has had a chance to develop much more than if he had just spent a year just standing around, given how limited F1 testing opportunities now are.
He entered a very competitive championship in which some drivers have been racing for a decade or more, and with quick cars that have high levels of grip. This kept Vandoorne race fit, and furthered his education. And most importantly, he kept up his winning momentum.
"I think it's been pretty good, because nobody was really expecting me to win anything there. I think it's been a good season with ups and downs. We won two races, we had a pole position and a podium.
"We had some tough races as well. But I think in general it's been good for me to understand the car, work with some Japanese people as well, which I'm going to have to a bit more next year as well.
"So to understand their culture was good. Just in terms of keeping fit, keeping sharp, and still having that thinking process about how to make the car better, keep pushing... It was good to have that programme, and I'm happy that I had this experience now.
"It's a professional championship. I think I'm probably the youngest driver in Super Formula, which was quite strange, because everybody has just so much experience there, they've been racing there for a long time.
"In the beginning it wasn't easy to come in and do well, but I think that enabled me to raise my game a little bit as well, and really fight for things. It was a good experience racing against competitive drivers."
Just experiencing a different way of working was useful: "First of all, I think what was very difficult was the communication in the beginning, because there were two guys in the team who I could speak to, who were my engineer and team manager. It's very difficult to build that relationship with the rest of the team.
"And then in terms of how they operate, how they set up a car is quite a bit different to what I've been used to in Europe.
"It was good to experience that. I had to do a lot of the work as well whilst being there, whilst in Europe you have a very professional team around you, they can show exactly you exactly what you have to do, what is going on with the car, which wasn't always the case there.
"But I think it was good for me to push the team forward, and learn from their culture as well."
Hamilton worked incredibly hard in the winter of 2006-'7, spending much time as possible at the MTC and visiting all the departments, and Vandoorne is doing exactly the same.
"Definitely I'll spend quite a bit of time in the factory with the engineers and the simulator. There's a lot of work to do with the new regulations coming in.
"It's going to be busy, but as usual always a lot of work to do with the team, and building a strong group around me, and learning to understand each other is a big part of success in Formula 1.
"So spending some time with mechanics, with the engineers and all the people I'm going to be working with closely is going to be very important."
One other aspect Vandoorne and Hamilton share is timing – both came in during a year of major change, when established drivers had to do a re-set. In 2007 the main focus was the tyres, with Michelin having left and Bridgestone landing the role of exclusive supplier.
Alonso is adamant to this day that Hamilton benefited from that scenario, as drivers had to adapt their styles, and he sees a parallel with 2017.
You can argue that more experienced drivers have done it all before and can deal easily with change, but the fact that much past data is now irrelevant can only help Vandoorne.
"I think experience always helps, no matter what," he says. "But with all the changes coming in, I think it mixes it up a little bit. In general drivers are pretty good at figuring out new things, and I think after a day or two of testing we'll have more or less have figured out how to drive the cars.
"Then it's going to be working hard with the team to understand the tyres, understand the new aerodynamics. Hopefully we can see some good developments through the season as well.
"I'll still go into the season trying to do my best, as usual. I think for me what is different this time, the previous seasons or series I was in, I knew I could fight for a championship, while now everything is a little bit up in the air. Still, I'm very new in Formula 1, there's a lot of things I still have to learn.
"We have no idea where the car performance will be as well next year. Hopefully it'll will be a good step forward. But then for the rest I think my approach will stay the same, and I will try to do my best for the team."
Posted 22 December 2016 - 17:48
Posted 24 December 2016 - 03:28
Da baba ima kurac...
McLaren would have won races in 2016 if it had the best Formula 1 engine, according to its racing director Eric Boullier.
The Woking-based team has not won since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, a run of 78 races - the longest in its history.
Its Honda power unit was off the pace in the manufacturer's first year back in F1 in 2015, but the Japanese firm made strides during its second season.
"If we had the best engine this year, we would have won races," Boullier told Autosport.
"We know, the GPS traces [of corner speeds] tell us."
Boullier says improvements need to be made in tandem on the engine and chassis in order for McLaren to keep moving up the grid.
"There is room for improvement everywhere with Honda," he said.
"It also drives your chassis development. Everything is connected.
"You can't make a car too draggy if you don't have enough power deployment because you lose time.
"You have to balance all the time. We work as one team with Honda to achieve what we want."
Boullier believes Honda has made progress and reduced the deficit to its rivals but conceded it will take time to catch up completely.
"The gap has closed," he said. "But to get where Mercedes is, you can't just copy and paste.
"There is a way you have to go through.
"You can't do it in three months or six months but in a few years.
"It took Renault time [to make engine gains] and still today, they are not on top of the game.
"They started to develop this engine six years ago."
Posted 06 January 2017 - 16:23
Honda has changed both the architecture and layout of its power unit thanks to the relaxing of development restrictions for 2017.
2015 proved to be a difficult return to Formula 1 for Honda, with its power unit proving both uncompetitive and unreliable as McLaren slipped to 10th place in the constructors' championship. Engine manufacturers were restricted by a token system which limited how much development could be applied to the power units, with certain components costing a set amount of tokens to change.
Effectively, the token system reduced the opportunity for power unit manufacturers to make major changes to their designs, which had hampered Honda's attempts to recover from its poor start. However, the token system has been scrapped for 2017 and McLaren technical director Tim Goss says the power unit supplier has been able to make significant revisions as a result.
"The token system that was applied to engine development for the past few seasons has been discontinued," Goss told the McLaren website. "For 2017, the Honda engine architecture and layout have been altered to serve both for performance and packaging needs.
"The new power unit takes much of the learning from the past two seasons, but has been specifically redesigned for this season."
Honda's head of F1 project Yusuke Hasegawa said last year that the Japanese manufacturer felt it would have been able to match Ferrari's power unit performance without the token restrictions, such was the rate of development.
The lifting of the power unit restrictions comes at the same time as the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations, and Goss says McLaren's engineers have also been having to react the knock-on effects on overall car performance.
"The aerodynamic changes have been another challenge. A lot of the flow structures and physics on the car are fundamentally the same – how the flow is established at the front of the car and then travels back down the car, starts off in a fairly similar way to last year.
"Now what you'll find is that, in the detail, things start to behave differently, which prompts you to change direction. The 2017 cars will look pretty similar to the layman, but the aero guys have been battling to correct flow structures at different ride heights for months and months now. We've had to rethink lots of different areas on the car, because they're behaving differently to how they did before."
Posted 15 January 2017 - 03:37
Tech analysis: Why Honda backtracked on its size-zero concept
By: Matt Somerfield, Assistant Technical Editor
2017 represents a significant milestone in Honda's effort to catch the pacesetters however, the FIA scrapping the token system as it looks to reduce the deficit of all of the power units manufacturers to Mercedes.
Honda's original power unit design was aggressive and by far the slimmest in the field, and was aimed at giving the chassis designers a helping hand with packaging.
But it was a mistake: the smaller turbo was unable to achieve the necessary boost levels needed to make use of the petrochemical energy, and limited the scope of the electrical motor generator attached to it.
Having condemned its own direction in 2015, the Japanese marque could do little to change its fortunes in 2016 and instead focused on a complete overhaul of the power unit's architecture for 2017.
A separate working group was established to work on the 2017 power unit, initially in parallel with its ongoing 2016 exploits, but as the season progressed more resources were channelled into the new design.
It's understood that Honda has backtracked on its original assertion that it can beat Mercedes by doing it its own way and will supply McLaren with a design very similar to the one run by the Mercedes-powered teams for the last three seasons.
This means focusing on three of the main aspects of the Mercedes power unit architecture and the works teams packaging of it.
Mercedes engine layout, captioned
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Glancing over the regulations in 2012, it was obvious that using the space between the engine's vee would be critical to packaging the ancillary components during this new hybrid era, especially given the use of just a single turbocharger on the cars centre-line.
This was a design decision that wasn't without its own drawbacks, given the rotational speeds of the turbo, but has allowed Mercedes-AMG HPP, who also plumped for the solution, to size both the turbine and compressor optimally without drastically affecting the power unit's length.
This is such an important and perhaps overlooked part of its design, with what seems like an overkill sizing of the turbo allowing more scope to create and use the electrical energy created by both the MGUs that make up the ERS.
The hybridisation of Formula 1's engines often leads us to only think of the electrical systems that have been added, leaving the petrochemical gains that have been made in the shadow.
However, when you consider that the power units are now producing more power than their V8 counterparts without the ERS, two less cylinders and a third less fuel, it's a staggering achievement.
Granted, forced induction engines don't need the same type of displacement to make the same power as their naturally aspirated counterparts, but it does usually come at the expense of fuel consumption.
In order to fulfil these gains, Mercedes worked closely with Petronas to supply fuel and lubricants that could improve the power unit's thermal efficiency.
One of the issues faced along the way was improving the knock limit. Renault has been pretty vocal about this since 2014, with Mercedes using a jet ignition system in order to run a much leaner fuel/air ratio and improve the combustion process - something that the rest of the manufacturers have followed with interest and began to adopt under the token system.
This was all possible because of Formula 1's move to direct injection and the way in which the regulations were written around it, allowing it to fire a small, precise high pressure jet of fuel into the cylinder which auto-ignites, improving the flame front before the conventional combustion event occurs with the assistance of the spark plug.
A feature of the works Mercedes cars since 2014 has been the liquid-air cooler (chargecooler) sandwiched in a void between the fuel cell and front face of the engine.
Others have dabbled with similar boost charge coolers, but none in quite the same fashion as Mercedes - and strangely enough none of the other Mercedes-powered teams, as others chose instead to place an air-to-air cooler in the sidepod (intercooler).
Ferrari's original power unit architecture took a chargecooler into account, mounted between the engine's vee, but it could be argued that heat soak from the surrounding engine components outweighed the advantage of the short boost tract.
But in 2016, Ferrari used a two-stage cooling arrangement, with a small air-to-air cooler mounted above the compressor at the rear of the engine before a boost pipe traversed the left cylinder bank toward a liquid-air chargecooler sandwiched between the fuel cell and power unit, much like Mercedes.
It's understood that Honda and McLaren have agreed that packaging the power unit and chargecooler must be dealt with in a similar way to how Mercedes has over the last few years, with Ferrari's solution seen as admirable but a compromise due to its turbo architecture.
Only Silver Arrows, no silver bullets
The fact remains that there is no single silver bullet, as all the engine manufacturers chase the bar set by Mercedes. What is clear though is that the power unit and chassis departments have to be co-ordinated in order to optimise the overall package, weighting an advantage toward the works teams.
Edited by Rad-oh-yeah?, 15 January 2017 - 03:37.
Posted 03 February 2017 - 13:24
Meklaren Honda je promenula prefiks imena bolida a sve u svetlu Ronovog odlaska. Novi prefiks je MCL a novi bolid za novu sezonu ćese zvati MCL32
Posted 03 February 2017 - 14:07
Ako su vec krenuli da de-Ronizuju ekipu mogli su da vrate ofiginalni prefiks M, i da nastave gde su onomad stali sa M30. Kako je krenulo uskoro ce da ga pomene u RA, pa cemo imati RA109...
Posted 03 February 2017 - 22:10
Hoce li vise ti testovi, propadoh od cekanja.
Ja sam već propao. Skidam klipove s tvitera da bi ih uploadao na moj Jutub račun radi post-anja na forumu. No tu nije kraj a najgore čuvam za kraj, proveo sam skoro 300 krugova testiranja MP431/17 na Barseloni radi usklađivanja fizike bolida za ovogodišnje perfomanse. A ovo je dno, ono najgore. Skinuo sam petominutnu kompilaciju Alonsovih startova kao mp3, startove odvojio i od njih napravio "pesme", novi žanr muzike- ukleta ambientalna muzika i album pod nazivom Alostar (ALOnsoSTArts). Zapravo usporio sam zvuk 88% i dodao efekt.
Posted 05 February 2017 - 16:57
Hoce li vise ti testovi, propadoh od cekanja.
Imas WRC sad ce i Nascar.
Posted 07 February 2017 - 00:38
Meklaren je ažurirao službenu aplikaciju, ikonica sadrži narandžastu liniju...
Posted 07 February 2017 - 16:18
Meh, kao Ron ga zaposlio a nova uprava ga smenula zbog toga. Narandžaste mu boje, verovao sam u njega i mislio sam da je njegova uloga u Meklarenu zlatna i da je sve to dobro za tim. Više ne znam šta da mislim ali gorim od želje za podijumima i pobedama.
JOST CAPITO’S MCLAREN F1 EXIT OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED
Jost Capito has officially left his role as CEO of the McLaren Formula 1 team, it was announced today.
Capito, who was previously the boss of Volkswagen’s motorsport programme, had only been in his position at the British squad for a few months.
The 58-year-old German stayed on at VW until the arrangements for his replacement were in place and his first official race as a McLaren employee was at the 2016 Italian Grand Prix.
Capito was hired by former McLaren boss Ron Dennis to work alongside the team’s racing director Eric Boullier and chief operating officer Jonathan Neale, but his position came under threat when Dennis was forced out of the Woking-based squad by his fellow shareholders last November.
Shortly after he was appointed, McLaren’s new boss Zak Brown called on the team’s senior management to work together to improve the team’s standing in F1, but Capito’s position was uncertain from the point of Dennis’ dismissal.
A McLaren statement confirming Capito’s exit read: “Jost Capito joined McLaren after four successful years at VW Motorsport, with a strong commitment to bringing success back to McLaren.
“He wanted to build again a winning team and fully focus on making the McLaren Formula 1 car competitive, with the aim of winning world championships in coming years. Regrettably, we have not been able to find common ground with Jost with regard to what is and will be needed to make the team successful again.
“As a result, we have agreed that he will leave McLaren Racing and will now consider other opportunities. We wish him success in his future endeavours.”
Capito’s exit is another sign that McLaren is moving on from the Dennis era, which stretched back to 1981 when the Briton’s Marlboro Project Four Racing operation was merged with the squad founded by Bruce McLaren.
Since that year, every McLaren F1 car has had the MP4 tag used before the chassis number, a tradition that will not continue on into 2017. Instead, McLaren revealed last week that its new challenger would be called the MCL32.
There have also been suggestions that the team will return, in some form or another, to the orange livery it ran during its early years in F1 and has occasionally used during testing – although it has not done so since 2006. This was a move that Dennis was set against during the final years of his reign at McLaren.
Speaking in 2015, he said: “All of these people were saying, why don’t we make it orange – because that was the old colour of McLaren? Well, I say, ‘you just said it – it was the old colour of McLaren. Why the hell do we want to go backwards?’
“So what do you do? Do you create an aesthetically pleasing design? But for what purpose?”
The MCL32, which will be raced by Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne in 2017 will be officially unveiled on 24 February, three days before the start of winter testing.
Crne boje bolida nakon raskida s Mercedesom su Ronova zasluga. "Zašto se okrenuti narandžastoj odnosno prošlosti, moramo gledati u budućnost" filozofija je donela livreje bez nadahnuća ali i dobro je što je tako ispalo. Onako crni su bili neprimetni dok su postizali loše rezultate.
Zamislite da ovako razmišlja Ferari, danas zeleno, sutra crveno a prekosutra je'li žuto...
...whilst his team took to Twitter (where else?) to ask fans whether they would prefer a red and white (Marlboro style) livery or delve even further back in the team's history and revert to the (Gulf Oil) orange of the Bruce and Denny Gulf era, Dennis admitted his frustration at the constant clamour for a new look. "We've got the same thing inside (McLaren), said the man whose middle name is Corporate. "You've got people who say 'Why don't we make it orange?', and I say, 'Why?' 'That was the old colour of McLaren', they reply. "Why the hell do we want to go backwards?" he thundered. "What do you do? Do you create an aesthetically pleasing design? For what purpose? "This is the livery of McLaren," he insisted, "it's always been a combination of these colours, and it will only change for commercial reasons. It won't change just to make a few people in the company happier because they want it orange, or they want it yellow. "We tried to put a bit more of our real colour, which is day-glo… fluorescent red is our colour. We've got more heritage in fluorescent red than any other colour. But again what I prefer to do is put a stylish design and as we evolve. It will be far more recognised if we suddenly come out with a light green car for the following reason, you'll all go, yeah they've got a big amount of money coming in."
Posted 07 February 2017 - 16:57
Nece ostati kamen na kamenu u Vokingu. Za koju godinu imacemo Tim Honda, ime Meklaren ce se i formalno preseliti u istoriju...