#F1 Forensics: McLaren-Honda

ForensicsBrought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Tourdog 

(This informtion is pre-Austria changes)


Bringing up the rear. Not in contention. Struggling. Still developing. Having issues.

Use whatever metaphor you like, when you take Manor out of the frame, Mclaren is the car on the horizon. They are last.

The only Manufacturer Team to have a driver with ZERO points. The driver considered by many to be the foremost driver in the sport, who is behind his equally experience teammate. Is it the drivers fault?

Obviously not. And I would like to argue that Mclaren put them selves in quite a shitty position by having two top drivers in what is essentially a development car. The idea 2 top drivers will develop a car quicker might be arguable, but if the manufacturer can’t actually improve things, there is no use in paying drivers like that. We can now also see how Mclaren and Honda are taking all the heat for the lack of performance. They cannot use an inexperienced driver as an excuse. They are stuck taking the full brunt of responsibility.

So here is the news. Kevin Magnussen’s situation in Fernando’s car at race 1 is the same as Verstappen and Kvyat. The car never actually made it to the line, but because it was classified as a starter, Mclaren was allowed a free gearbox change at race two.

Mclaren gearbox sumary specific --june 19-- (ver 5.0)

Alonso’s DNF in Malaysia gave him another free change to gearbox #3 in China.

Miracle of Miracles, Alonso finished the next two races in a row, China and Bahrain, so he kept gearbox 3 through Spain. Fernando did not finish Spain, but interestingly, Mclaren did not change his gearbox before Monaco, though they could have without penalty. After a DNF in Monaco, Fernando installed gearbox #4 in Canada. Fernando will finish the season using absolutely no less than 6 gearboxes.

Button Finished race 1, DNF’d in race 2, finished race 3, and never made it out of the pits at race 4. Interestingly Button too did not take a free gearbox change when given the opportunity to, though for him it was in China. I attribute Mclarens decision not to change gearboxes in these two situations as a way to reduce the variables associated with their Power Unit problems, and not due to a lack of funds; though you can’t help but keep that thought in filed waaaaay back there.

On a side note, Button failing to leave the pits in Bahrain, helps us further refine how the FIA classifies cars. So we have 3 unique situations:

1) Bottas- Driver Qualifies, but is not classified as a starter

2) Button- Driver Qualifies, is classified as a starter, but does not leave the pit

3) Kvyat- Driver Qualifies, is classified, leaves the pit, but does not make it to the start line

If you are Bottas, you did not participate in the race, and by the FIA’s measure with regard to gearboxes, you cannot change it without penalty.

If you are Button, you have actually participated in the event EXACTLY as Bottas did, yet your classification from the FIA allows you to change your gearbox “free of charge”. Kvyat made it half way through the formation lap, and is also considered to have participated in the race.

Back to Button, who installed gearbox #2 in Spain without penalty. and is currently still using it. Mclarens average for gearbox #1 was 1,146 Km, and for #2 was 1,147. That average will increase if Button continues to use this gearbox in Austria, but the numbers are never going to look good, and besides since neither Mclaren driver finished in Canada, assume both will replace their gearbox before this weekend in Austria.

Honda’s ICE is quite sad. ICE #1 for both cars was a complete throw away, Magnussen covering just 201 Km, and Button just 827 Km. ICE #2 faired better, averaging 1,535 Km between the two, but ICE #3 averaged just 1,360 Km, and it looks as though Mclaren will change out at least alonso’s car for ICE #5 in Austria. That means Alonso’s #4 ICE managed just 305 Km. We shall see which ICE Button ends up using in Austria. So far Mclaren has only announced that Alonso will change, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if Alonso’s car shows any signs of progress in practice, Button will get his ICE upgraded to #5 as well before the lights go out.

mclaren ICE summary specific --june 19--(ver 5.0)

No matter what, both Alonso and Button will use at least 7 ICE’s each this season. The way things are going now, it could be more.

If you look at all the numbers, Honda and Renault are really not that far off on reliability. By that I mean both of them have none. What makes Mclaren’s situation worse than Renaults is that the Honda is unreliable and the slowest. Renault is merely unreliable and the second slowest.

I just looked at the clock and technically I made my self imposed deadline. My hope was to get all of these analyses done before Free Practice started on Friday, and I made it with an hour to spare. Of course by the time its published this will probably be wrong, but that is the fast paced world of F1.

I hope at least one of you found some of this even slightly helpful. In truth I learned quite a few things in doing the research, and I hope I was able to convey those to you.

Future write ups are planned as post race summaries, and will be published in the week following. Thanks to everyone for reading.

6 responses to “#F1 Forensics: McLaren-Honda

  1. Excellent articles. Thanks. It must be very time consuming to research it all.
    It gives even more insight into the woeful state of affairs for Honda and Renault.

  2. Great series, gives a pretty good overall picture.

    I’d add something to the Honda vs Renault discussion the way I see things now after the 2×25 place grid penalty for McH. It looks like Renault have a particularly unreliable ICE, but everything else hasn’t really been pointed out for unreliability. Cyril declared after China they have a bad piston or something like that and it is introduced in ICE4; since then they seem fine, albeit not very fast. Honda on the other hand started in pre-season testing with MGUK seals, continued in Melbourne with ICE woes and especially MGUH failures (though it could be Turbo as well, I have doubts reports/reporters are as accurate as they should be); I keep remembering Button saying “I lost power” and he keeps crawling at a snail’s pace – for me this is Turbo/MGUH/CEH failure. My 2 cents: from now on Renault are likely to have more ICE changes and Honda will change complete PUs.
    A point from a previous article – if teams bought PUs individually it would be disastrous for at least 3 of them, but I think they rent the PUs (remember McLaren last year). As it is I don’t think it’s disastrous for PU suppliers either – it is bad, but how bad? On TV we’re shown each team has (or should have) 4 PUs per year – but on the dynos, for development, experimental bits, PU suppliers surely build quite a few more. 1 extra PU shipped to the track isn’t 25% more added cost, it’s quite a bit less.
    Imho for readability reasons the press oversimplifies things – it’s black or white because in 1000 words not much more can be said. I’m happy to see articles such as this one that starts reader’s neuron(s)

  3. It’s time they lose one of the old timers and bring vandoorne in. The boy is dominating gp2 like none has before.

    • @bruznic

      Vandoorne will have the exact same difficulties that Magnussen, Bottas, Ricciardo, JEV and countless others after the 2008-2009 testing bans have had: there is a significant break-in period in F1 for rookies, however talented they’ve shown to be in lower formulae. It takes at least two years, but better make it three, for rookies to get to a performance level (speed & consistency) comparable to old-timers. Stick Vandoorne next to Button or Alonso, and he may suffer the same twitchy start to F1 as Magnussen did…

      • I know. Just want to see him in f1. And of the car is as shit as it is now he’ll have a period of adjusting without all the stress, if neither button or Alonso perform better as him (due to the car) nobody will ask questions.

  4. F1becoming more irrelevant. Honda are trying to catch up and not destroy their reputation. What’s F1 going to do if Renault withdraws. No new manufacture’s are going to cue up to be humiliated.Racing to prove new technology /endurance not advertising and noise!

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