McLaren performance leap

The demographics of modern F1 is curious, the audience average age increases year on year and yet we had the youngest ever winner at the weekend in Spain.

Max impressed again yesterday in testing having achieved the fastest time with another bright young lad in the form of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne coming in second. The young Belgian completed 108 laps and set a fast time of 1:24.

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It’s the first time Stoffel has sat in an F1 car since his impressive debut in Bahrain and it appears that the Woking team have made significant improvements with some very encouraging words to say about his upgraded McLaren: “It feels better in every area especially when driven hard,” said Vandoorne as reported by

“I got used to it quickly and with the progress we made, I’m happy”.

Éric Boullier said: “If you look at the data closely, we see that we are in terms of performance somewhere between Mercedes and Ferrari.”

This might be the usual spin we often hear from Éric ‘the believable’, but further analysis shows some encouraging data for McLaren fans. The MP4-31 cornering speeds are now actually one of the quickest in the field (along with the Red Bull), of course the traditional Achilles’ heel being lack of speed at the end of straights which still ruins lap time, but at Monaco this won’t be an issue.

So consider that, plus the very impressive last sector times of the Red Bull in Barcelona (the twisty bit), and we could well see Mercedes genuinely challenged in the principality.

Ferrari who?

41 responses to “McLaren performance leap

  1. Eric Boullier said:

    “If you look at the data closely, we see that we are in terms of the alphabet somewhere between Mercedes and Ferrari.”

    Fixed 🙂

  2. Shut up McLaren. 4th season of talking drivel. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  3. It;d be great to see McLaren and Red Bull lock out the first two rows in Monaco, but I can’t see it happening.

  4. Please, please, please give stoffel a chance next year. It’s time for the old generation to sod off. New blood is more exciting. Get rid of button, massa, kimi… even Fred can go elsewhere for me.

    • I yelled for massa’s head even when Trulli was still trundling at the back of the field.
      Kimi, it hurts but you’re probably right.
      Button was exciting in the Honda when he came 3rd (2nd?) in the championship. And Fernando can stay. There’s always a fight going on when he’s around, mostly with his own team though.

      • I know, kimi isn’t something I really want but Barcelona made it very clear. As for Fred I was highly in doubt to write that. the thing that convinced me was that I really want to see him drive WEC, could he do it on a competitive level? My reasons were pure selfishness. all those named above he is the only one capable enough to become world champion again.

        • That’s a mouth watering thought,Alonso in a Audi or even a Toyota. The WEC seem to get better every year so I do wonder just when the FIA will balls that one up as well

  5. “If you look at the data closely, we see that we are in terms of performance somewhere between Mercedes and Ferrari.”….

    Does he mean this years Ferrari and Mercedes, last years or the 2014 specs? Questions questions….

  6. “Éric Boullier said: “If you look at the data closely, we see that we are in terms of performance somewhere between Mercedes and Ferrari.”………

    Is that the 2013 Mercedes and Ferrari he’s talking about?

    • –“Éric Boullier said: “If you look at the data closely, we see that we are in terms of performance somewhere between Mercedes and Ferrari.”………

      Ferrari had two cars finish the race; Mercedes had zero cars finish the race; McLaren had one car finish the race, which is somewhere between zero and two… 😉

  7. I am a bit disappointed in the discussions here since the Spanish GP. we can all chose our fav GP race such as Jimmy Clark unlapping the field TWICE at the old Monza or Senna flying thru the air and driving thru walls at Monaco. we can all yap about conspiracy theories and stupid strategy calls. seriously, Max delivered the most inch-perfect drive in history. give him credit!!!

    • Onya, Max! Bravo, young man!!

      Can we go back to conspiracy theories now?

      Actually, back to Verstappan for a second…. No one has mentioned Tom Clarkson comparing Chip’s win on the weekend with Maldonado’s big day out with Williams a while back. An “odd result” I think he said. Funny 🙂

    • “Max delivered the most inch-perfect drive in history”

      Whilst it was a decent effort by Max, it was by no means the most inch perfect drive in history. It was a very good performance by young Max, aided by an awful strategy for Ricciardo. Monaco is up next, and that is all about driving inch perfect lines!

      • It was a terrific drive. But not the most perfect I ever saw… I’m gonna say something and I’m gonna hate myself… here we go I once saw schumacher at hungary in 98 drive quali laps, lap after lap, and then even some more laps, in the race. Young max didn’t nothing like that. Not even close.

        • but think about it… it WAS a great drive under a super duper lucky situation. but it only took me a couple of rediculously dumb words to get a few comments… a deserved win? yeah. the best in history? not even close. what does this bait n switch comment say about OUR mentality?? or the sport/business in general???

          • Haha. Good one. Cheeky. I like it.

            Kinda like the above JB bashing when it’s well known JB kicked LH’s behind between 2010-12. Pts, avg WDC pos etc.

            What are the logical implications with respect to LH (and FA) if JB’s so terrible? Obvious, no?

            Best not talk about it… #TeamLH might go into “lunatic” mode. Toto’s watching. 😉

            +1 Titan. Thanks.

    • If we all thought this, there would be no discussion at all.

      We could however virtually hold hands and look fir the unicorn in a rainbowed sky.

  8. There’s a lot of McLaren chest puffing about their chassis and a spectacularly isolated example of one sector of one track from one session ( seems to put them only behind Merc/Red Bull and broadly in the mix with Ferrari/Williams/Torro Rosso.

    It’s hardly a representative sample though – remember how poor Kimi couldn’t get near Max in S3 despite having a quicker race car over a full lap? Sorry Eric, McLaren borderline Q3 is simply where you are in full qualifying trim with all dials turned to 11. Stop wasting time talking yourself up, sort the car out and let your track performance do the talking.

    Side note: Is it just me that thinks the Honda, whilst there or thereabouts in terms of power, seems thirstier than competing lumps – which is hurting race pace more than outright power or lack of deployment?

    • –Side note: Is it just me that thinks the Honda, whilst there or thereabouts in terms of power, seems thirstier than competing lumps – which is hurting race pace more than outright power or lack of deployment?

      Certainly seemed to be the case in Sochi from Button’s comments before the race (it was something on the lines of “the race would be more fun for us if not for fuel-saving”) and how much faster Alonso could go when he turned the wick up. Which said, their qualifying pace is still very much borderline Q3, so if we assume their chassis is a little better than (say) Force India the fact they’re qualifying about the same (or maybe a little slower) implies that their engine is still a bit down on the Merc one.

      • Makes you wonder if they could relax the rules a tad like in motogp. They did this so the duc’s could compete with a extra fuel allowance and it’s brought about some excellent racing.

    • “Whilst there or thereabout in terms of power” words doing the rounds says that Honda’s next upgrade at around SPA will once again Be concentrated around combustion/turbo/MGU-H.

    • and, maybe they do…Way back in the day with my ’69 Titan FF transformed into an F Atlantic, I did not have the computer power of today. it was seat of the pants, protractors, compasses, graph paper, analog stop watches, slide rules, measuring sticks, bathroom scales, etc.. Ferodo D-11 brake pads, Armstrong shocks, Hewland gearboxes, Ampep heim-ends, McReary dirt track compound tires (seriously), MSD Ignition, RedLine racing oil (used to be All-Proof) with STP and Justice Brothers additives, Sunoco 260 Gas, Simpson helmet and gear. times sure have changed 🙂

  9. “somewhere between Mercedes and FERRARI in terms of performance” this while at the same time Honda boss said “if we didn’t have the tokens and we were just adding more parts we could achieve the level of FERRARI, but currently to achieve this level we need more than 40 or 50 tokens”.

  10. As I understand it the rules on engine development and the token system were brought in to lower costs. But, has this actually happened? The big teams must be spending millions on research to improve minor parts of the powertrain. Money that they will always find to improve their package.
    Much better, surely, to scrap these rules and let everyone catch up to similar power output. The top teams will benefit of course, but so will the lower teams, as they will have to have the same engine as the big boys. That way will bring better racing, and a race result that isn’t certain beforehand, barring silly accidents.
    Once the different powertrains are similar in what they can do, the aero packages are similar too, (as whatever works best works best for everyone) then the outcome of races will be back to the driver’s skill or lack of it.
    By the way, does anyone apart from me miss the radio messages between pit and driver? All we get now is bleating from Vettel when someone has the audacity to overtake or attempt to overtake him.

    • most of those that follow F1 are being lead into confusion by what is being said/pushed out, Honda “ICE” output might well fall in-between that of Mercedes and FERRARI, but the aim of Honda Canada update is now for “fuel mapping only” as Honda cannot at present make the kind of PU power as Mercedes and FERRARI with full ER at same time. it is not the HP you can get, it is the energy you can get from the fuel, every drop of it. the power unit with the higher efficiency wins. at the end of the day the more power you can get out of energy is what counts. at the power output Honda is most probably extracting out of their ICE, they would most probably be 15-20KG short of fuel to finish the race.
      The radio messages ban between pit and driver as regards driver coaching was screamed for by most followers of the sports, in this regard I only miss it when it effects the driver I support such as at race starts, as to regards the bleating from drivers it is always a pleasure to listen too wherever that is coming from.

  11. SuperRon is now saying “I honestly believe that the next world champions after Mercedes will be McLaren”

    Have they found some way of harnessing PR hot air to improve performance?

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