#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 14th January 2015

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OTD Lite 1977 – Put Narain in a wheelbarrow and he’d beat Hammy!

Mclaren expands its focus into advanced technology

Williams do not need to spend big to win

John Watson cautious on Mclaren future


OTD Lite 1977 – Put Narain in a wheelbarrow and he’d beat Hammy!

d11hun273Narain Karthikeyan celebrates his 38th birthday today. Not the ‘fastest’ name any F1 driver was born with but certainly a tongue twister and similarly a high score in Scrabble if names were allowed.

Let’s be honest, after a somewhat lacklustre junior career his sponsorship from Tata secured him a drive with Jordan for 2005 – a team that was in its final throes of survival and holding on by the merest of fingertips. Shock. Horror! A pay driver ten years ago?

Anyway, his debut was the first for any Indian driver and he went on to a miraculous fourth place finish at that season’s US GP. Of course it may be worth mentioning to any new followers of F1 that this placing was due to the withdrawal of all the Michelin runners – leaving just the six Bridgestone shod car to compete. He beat the two Minardis but finished behind his team-mate and both Ferraris.

Ha, so what – says you? Well, after his stint he was signed as Williams 4th driver following a successful test in Spain in December 05 – where he had out-paced the confirmed second driver, one Nico Rosberg. So by the Jackal’s reckoning, that would make Kathikeyan faster than Lewis Hamilton..

The Grumpy Jackal

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Mclaren expands its focus into advanced technology

The Mclaren Group has formally announced a change in its name to the Mclaren Technology Group. President and CEO of the Woking company, Ron Dennis outlined the motivations behind the renaming of the brand:

“McLaren is a company with the experience and culture of innovation – qualities that are needed to have a positive impact on the world. We have long demonstrated our capabilities on tracks around the world: Formula 1 is and always will be the foundation of our business. Our competitive spirit, the pursuit of innovation allows us to attract the interest of the best engineers, scientists and data analysts, without forgetting that the huge popularity of Formula 1 provides us with a unique promotional platform. We exist to win, and nothing ever distract the attention of McLaren Racing to that goal. “

Dennis continued: “We are much more than just a racing team. McLaren companies today employ more than 3,000 people and three-quarters are not involved in racing. We rely on advanced technology in everything we make, produce road cars that are the most advanced in the world and working with blue-chip companies to improve product profitability. The new name reflects our increasing focus on innovation. “

“In 1993 we started to develop and produce supercars beginning with the McLaren F1, before launching McLaren Automotive which today produces the most technologically advanced sports cars and with the highest performance in the world! “.

The automotive part of the group produced 1,648 cars last year and the goal over the next three years is to increase this figure to 4,000 annually. An application had been submitted for the construction of a new technology centre which would cover 57,000 square metres. Within this building would be a new windtunnel which would double the race teams aero facilities.

It would appear that Ron’s work in progress to emulate the great Enzo Ferrari is nearing completion as his automotive arm expands globally and his famous race team suffers similar problems to the boys in Maranello – both Grandees having to rebuild windtunnels and overcome disastrous seasons together.

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Williams do not need to spend big to win

Back in the mid 90’s former Williams technical director was interviewed for a publication. The talk had turned to the costs involved in winning the world titles and he made comment that money used wisely could achieve more than money thrown away without address.

Patrick Head demonstrated his point by using refuelling equipment as an example. Williams had bought three units from the FIA authorised manufacturer that supplied all the teams and would recondition and service the equipment themselves. Ferrari on the other hand had bought twenty.

Frank Williams as the owner of a fledging private Formula One team would learn the value of money and how to best utilise it as a limited resource most effectively. His daughter Claire has been clearly bred in similar fashion.

“Of course we all need more money”, she remarked. “But it’s not a significant amount more money that we feel we need in order to compete, we don’t feel we need to double our budget, for example. We don’t believe we need to go racing with £200million to win, and we don’t have the mentality that because we don’t have £200million we can’t compete.”

“We’ve always been a team that was able to win against rivals with bigger budgets. We’ve done it in the past and we’ll do it again in the future. We’ve always had an efficient team,” Williams said. “Frank Williams and Patrick Head have always operated Williams from a very lean budget and punched above our weight.”

Pat Symonds echoed his Claire’s words – “I don’t think it is necessary to have a budget like Red Bull or Ferrari’s – I believe you can do better with less – look at the fact we are operating on a budget half of Ferrari’s and we beat them. But ultimately, that is the only reason I have taken this job on: I want to win another championship before I go and sit on the beach.”

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John Watson cautious on Mclaren future

Ex Mclaren F1 driver John Watson believes it will take a minimum of two years before Mclaren are in a position to fight for legitimate victories: “I think it will take some time for the entire package to function properly and bring Mclaren back to the levels they are accustomed to. It is much more difficult than in the past when they ruled the world because the restrictions imposed on testing has been very damaging for many teams.”

“For a team looking to get back to the top and dominate as Ron Dennis has suggested is not a simple path. I think it will take a minimum of two years to reach consistent levels and most likely three to be able to dominate” he concluded knowing the fans of the team will have to show a little more patience as the Woking team continues to strive for further title glory.”

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12 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 14th January 2015

  1. I’d say Watson is spot on. But I very much doubt McLaren will be in a position to dominate with this set of rules. Not just McLaren, but anyone.
    Rules will stay pretty much the same till 2020. So in the next 2-3 years and by the end of 2019 you will see the engine partners closing the gap to Merc but not one dominating. Hopefully this means we’ll have some great seasons in ’17-’19 much in the same vein as ’07-’08.

    • Watson’s explanation of McLaren’s form and future form is the most logical explanation when looking at other teams who have recently risen to the top but as a fan of competition I hope McLaren can show they can fight with the top again halfway through to the end of the 2015 season. And then in 2016 we hopefully have 5 top teams with a similar level of performance, just like the period around the year 2000.

      (The 5 teams I’m talking about are Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams)

    • i’m not so sure mercedes will continue to dominate for too long. they have a leadership problem. on top of that, the team dominating right now is not the team that laid the groundwork for the success. staff has defected already and there are clearly camps and friction in brackley. if you look at dominating teams, they have a core that build up the structures for success and keep that core in place. once that core disintegrates, the dominance ends. mercedes started to disintegrate the vey season they began their domination.

  2. Re: Williams

    I’d reserve my judgement on how good is Williams until I see them competing successfully with an average engine. The 2014 record was impressive, but Williams had the best engine on the grid and we know that Mercedes did everything it could it withhold critical engine management information from McLaren. The Williams success may well continue into 2015, but we still have to disentangle the contribution from the engine and drivers from the rest of team.

  3. Can someone remind me (if known) what amount of money is Rosberg contracted for under his new deal signed last year?

    • I was going to ask the same question. It would be interesting to have a comparison of what all the drivers are getting, or been offered, if anyone has that information. Length of contracts would be interesting too. So we can predict when the next round of “musical chairs” and changes are likely to take place. 🙂

    • 18-19 (Euros) per year is right as far a I remember. I believe it was reported as a 55 million Euros contract at the time.

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