Tag Archives: Martin Whitmarsh

Neglected Blog, Turkish Delight & Communications Breakdown

Apologies for the lack of blog updates (busy times which should be easing off soon, hopefully) and also for the very corny pun in the title of this update – I couldn’t resist!

Am I happy that Lewis Hamilton won in Turkey? yes, I’m over the moon. Would I prefer it the victory had have come from actually beating the Red Bulls rather than capitalising on the collision between Weber and Vettel? of course, but the improvements of the McLarens are very encouraging and Hamilton and Button were within pouncing distance of Weber and Vettel for the whole pre-collision race. This victory out Hamilton right back into the title race, something which comes as a huge relief to me, and lots of other people too, I’m sure.

Now, onto more serious matters, and the information that has come out of the radio communications that can be heard on formula1.com, which went something like this:

Team to Hamilton “Save fuel”
Lewis Hamilton- “If I save fuel will Jenson pass me yes or no?”
Team- “No Lewis He won’t”

Of course we all know what happened next. So, was this a case of the team not communicating to Jenson what they had just told Lewis or was this Jenson deciding to race for the win ignoring what the team had said/ No doubt we’ll get an explanation from Martin Whitmarsh at the next race, as I am sure the BBC team will ask him what went on. With no team order there can be no real blame for Jenson wanting to race, but he was given the passing opportunity due to Lewis slowing down, so the fault lies with the lack of communication.

If Lewis needed to save more fuel than Jenson, as the case may have been, would the team have been right to tell Jenson not to pass Lewis? Conserving fuel, just as with tyres, is part of the race and if Jenson has done than better than Lewis then all credit to him, surely, and a shot at the win in his right. Of course this is only mass speculation but I know that if the shoe were on the other foot than I’d want Lewis to be given that chance at victory.

If we assume the team didn’t pass on Lewis’s concerns, why would that be? Could it just be an innocent communication breakdown or could they have realised that if Jenson gets the win then he’d be top of the Driver’s Championship, while their team points would remain the same, seeing them top of the Constructor’s Championship. It’s maybe a cynical look at what occurred but as a fan of McLaren that doesn’t mean we have to be blinkered, we have to consider all angles, especially given the large amounts of money involved in Formula 1.

Until we hear from McLaren themselves, all we can do is guess any number of scenarios. The facts are that McLaren are now competitive with Red Bull, and with that in mind the rest of the season should be very exciting indeed.

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Filed under Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel, Turkish

Button Wins, Hamilton 6th and F1 is back, baby!

After the relative dullness of the Bahrain Grand Prix 2 weeks ago, today’s GP in Australia was the kind of race that reminds us all why we love Formula 1. From the start to the very finish there was drama, excitement and wait for it, overtaking! I kid you not, cars were passing other cars under normal racing conditions, and a fair amount of that was done by Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton at the Australian Grand Prix

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

Lewis Hamilton drove arguably his greatest race to date, up there with Japan 2007 for me personally, and that was the race that made me into a Formula 1 fan, so high praise indeed. After the disappointment of yesterday’s qualifying I was thrilled to see Lewis in such a racing mood, it’s what has always delighted me as a fan of his. If there was a chance to overtake than he took it, and a special mention has to go out to both Robert Kubica and Fernando Alsonso who brilliantly defended against a much faster Hamilton. In the case of Kubica it was Hamilton’s inability to get past that had the team bring him in for a tyre change, a move that ultimately led to Hamilton losing places, a probable podium place at that.

Later in the race, when chasing down Fernando Alsonso, it was Mark Weber who dealt Hamilton a a second blow when he shunted him into the gravel. At that point I was livid, and had it not been for the presence of my little boy then a fair few expletives would have been thrown the Australian’s way! Luckily it only cost Hamilton one place and he ended up finishing 6th, a result which is far better than the 11th place he qualified but worse than he should have got, had other circumstances and decisions gone his way. Hamilton’s lambasting of the team over the radio during the race wasn’t his finest moment but forgiveable, given the emotions that must have been coursing through him as he saw race positions taken from within his grasp.

Jenson Button cruises to victory in Australia

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

The man in the photo above is none other than Jenson Button, 2 races into his career as a McLaren driver and already a winner. If I’m completely honest I’d have preferred Lewis Hamilton to win, but I won’t begrudge Jenson his victory and for the McLaren team it’s a fantastic result. Kudos to Jenson for making the decision to come in for an early tyre change to slicks, it won him the race, with a little help from Sebastian Vettel’s second problematic Grand Prix in a row. It’s astonishing that Jenson went so long and at such a high performance level on the second set of tyres, but if anyone could it was going to be him.

Jenson Button celebrates victory on Australia

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

At the start of the season I will hold my hands up and admit (you can read old blog posts so I can’t pretend otherwise!) that I thought Lewis was going to outperform Jenson easily over the course of 19 races. Though he did just that in Bahrain, and though there were mitigating circumstances leading to Lewis’s almost disappointing 6th place, Jenson Button has marked out his intention to succeed with today’s race and currently leads Lewis by 8 points in the Drivers’ Championship. The combined effort of both drivers puts them on 54 points, 16 points behind Ferrari.

Team McLaren celebrate Jenon Button's victory

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

Lewis Hamilton is ominously missing from this team celebration, but then so is Martin Whitmarsh – maybe they were discussing the second tyre change at the time of taking this photo! All in all it was a great day for McLaren and for Formula 1 fans everywhere – what a fantastic race. I have no doubt that Jenson’s victory will have lit a fire under everyone in the team, especially Lewis Hamilton, who doesn’t like playing second fiddle to anyone, especially not his team mate.

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Filed under Australian, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel

McLaren in the News – 16th December 2009

A Profile and Interview of new Lotus Driver – Heikki Kovalainen @ The Sports Campus F1
Tuesday 15th November
28-year old Finn Heikki Kovalainen was this Monday appointed to the Lotus F1 Racing team for the 2010 season alongside Italian Jarno Trulli and Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy.

Heikki started his motor racing career karting in the early 1990’s. His first recognition came with second place in the Finnish Formula A Championship in 1999 and 2000. That year also saw Heikki add the Scandinavian Championship and the Elf Masters, held at Paris Bercy, to his achievements, earning him title of Karting Driver of the Year in his native Finland. Heikki’s success saw him move up to the British Formula Renault Championship in 2001, bringing two wins, two poles and three fastest laps, enough to give him fourth place in the Championship, plus the 2001 Finnish Automobile Sports Federation “Rookie of the Year” award. That same year, Heikki made his F3 debut at the world renowned Macau Grand Prix, finishing 8th. In 2002 Heikki moved on to compete in the British F3 Championship, scoring an impressive five wins, three poles and three fastest laps, securing his third position in drivers’ standings. He was once again given the “Rookie of the Year” award, and won the prestigious F3 support race at the British Grand Prix. He capped an impressive year by finishing second in Macau and fourth at the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort. (read more…)

I will not settle for being second best: Jenson Button @ DNA Sport
Tuesday 15th November
London: Reigning Formula One world champion Jenson Button has warned former champion and McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton that he will not settle for being second best in the team.

Button’s comment came after he finished runner-up in the BBC Sports Personality awards, where he was the favourite, but lost out to Manchester United star Ryan Giggs.

“Any sportsman does not like coming second, but Ryan is the best man I could have lost to,” The Sun quoted Button, as saying. “I’m looking forward to working with Lewis. We will work together to build a good car but, on circuit, we will be fierce rivals. That’s the way it is,” he added. (read more…)

Mosley speaks out on ‘spygate’ @ Yahoo! F1
Monday 14th November
Max Mosley, the former president of the FIA, has spoken out about the way in which he handed the ‘spygate’ saga which affected the 2007 F1 season – and the proposed breakaway from earlier this year.
Mosley, who has now been replaced by Jean Todt as the head of motorsport’s governing body, spoke at length in an article published by Britain’s Sunday Telegraph in which he discussed the two scandals – which revealed how he had wanted to ban McLaren for its involvement in ‘spygate’ and how he remains convinced that his proposed budget cap for F1 was the correct idea to take the sport forwards…
“On July 3, 2007 I got a call from Ron Dennis, the boss of the McLaren Formula One team, to say that at 7.30 that morning, lawyers acting for Ferrari had raided the home of Mike Coughlan, McLaren’s chief designer, and recovered CDs which were believed to contain the entire technical details of the current Ferrari Formula One car. “Spygate” had begun,” he wrote. (read more…)

Whitmarsh to become FOTA chairman @ Aurosport.com
Thursday 10th November
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has been voted in as Luca di Montezemolo’s successor as the chairman of the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA), AUTOSPORT can reveal.

Following a meeting of the Formula 1 Commission in Monaco on Thursday, team principals then got together for a FOTA gathering to discuss plans for next year – which included the election of new senior officials.

Sources have confirmed that Whitmarsh was ratified as the new chairman, and he will take over the mandate from di Montezemolo whose one-year term ends later this month. (read more…)

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Filed under Constructors, Drivers, Heikki Kovalainen, In the news..., Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

Jenson Button signs for McLaren, who announce it on Twitter!

As per the title, this is what was announced on the official McLaren F1 Twitter:

VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES SIGNS REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION JENSON BUTTON TO MULTI-YEAR DEAL

The full press release can be read over at the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes website, which at the time of writing is receiving so muich traffic that it won’t load up! Understandably. It’s the signing the Formula 1 world has been waiting for.

Subsequent tweets went as follows:

We wanted all you guys, our loyal Twitter followers, to be THE VERY FIRST to know!!!

Jenson: “I’ve followed the McLaren team ever since I was a small boy, and it feels unbelievable to finally be a part of it!”

Lewis: “I’m thrilled we’ll both be flying the flag for the United Kingdom. I’m already looking forward to Silverstone – it’ll be massive!”

Martin Whitmarsh: “We’re ambitious, we’re motivated and we’re hungrier than ever. We want to win both World Championships next year.”

It’s a great service to those of us who follow the McLaren Twitter feed to get the scoop on such an important piece of news. Some criticism has been thrown at the level of Twitter usage by the Mclaren team, but I’ve always found they go above and beyond to keep us fans informed and take it that extra mile.

Exciting times for McLaren, who start the 2010 with the number 1 and number 2 cars and the past 2 drivers world champions! I wonder if Mercedes GP / Brawn GP are the first constructor to start the season as reigning constructors champions and have neither of the drivers still with them that won them that championship?

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Mercedes GP

Kimi Raikkonen will only race for the right team in 2010 – surely the only option is McLaren?

On his official website Kimi Raikkonen said:

I am very motivated to win races and a championship again and will only remain in Formula One if I can race for a team that can give me a car to fight at the front. Let’s wait and see what happen.

Let’s look at this realistically, who are the teams set to compete in Formula 1 in 2010 that will be fighting for the Championship:

Red Bull
If it hadn’t been for Brawn GP’s fairytale start to the 2009 season then Red Bull would have beena good bet to win the Drivers Championship with Sebastian Vettel and probably the Constructors Championship with Mark Weber as his team mate. Vettel and Weber are two of just a handful of drivers that are confirmed for 2010. this means that although Red Bull could enter next season in Formula 1 as the favourites, there is no room for Kimi Raikkonen in 2010.

Brawn GP
They had a fantastic head start coming into the 2009 season and built up an unassailable lead in the first 6 races of the season thanks to the developments they made to the car while under the Honda badge and at the sacrifice to their 2008 season. While nobody expects to see such dominance in 2010, they will still be one of the teams fighting it out at the front of the grid.

While the 2 race seats at Brawn GP are still unconfirmed, we’re all just waiting for Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg to be confirmed. As much as the UK press like to try their hand at fantasy booking an all British driver team at McLaren, it isn’t going to be happening. What this means is no race seat for Kimi Raikkonen at Brawn GP in 2010.

Ferrari
While 2009 was quite a poor season, at least in terms of the previous successes of Ferrari, you wouldn’t bet against them coming back strongly in 2010 and they in fact started working on their 2010 car towards the end of the 2009 season.

Ferrari has been Kimi Raikkonen’s home for the past 3 seasons, and where he won the Drivers Championship in 2007 while finishing 3rd and 6th in 2008 and 2009 respectively. However, the least surprising move in Formula 1 saw Ferrari sign Fernando Alonso for the 2010 season, who along with the returning Felipe Massa makes up their Driving team for next season. Once again, no room for Raikkonen in 2010.

McLaren
Like Ferrari, McLaren had a bad start to 2009 but by the middle of the season they seemed to be catching up and by the end of he season Lewis Hamilton had scored more points than any other driver in the 2nd half of the season. Ironically it was Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari who had scored the second most points in that same period. Martin Whitmarsh has said that the McLaren will be faster in 2010 so we can expect the MP4-25 to be battling Red Bull, Brawn GP and Ferrari for the big points next season.

Hamilton and Raikkonen – competitors in 2007, team mates in 2010?
[picapp src=”9/2/d/8/05.JPG?adImageId=7224727&imageId=3148457″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]

No disrespect to any of the other teams, but it would seem that if Kimi Raikkonen does indeed what to drive next season and be competitive, then McLaren is his only choice. It’s recently been said that Raikkonen could earn more by not driving next year than if he were to drive with McLaren. The figures being banded around are €17 million if he takes 2010 off and €15 million if he accepts the offer to drive for McLaren. In the world of McLaren the minimum €2 million pounds extra they’d need to offer Raikkonen to match his sabbatical earnings seems like a drop in the ocean, but then why should they offer him more?

It could be argued that if money is the only thing motivating Kimi Raikkonen is he really the right choice for the team and should McLaren look elsewhere to fill that second seat. I discussed the 2010 driver options here, and to be honest, even a money motivated Kimi Raikkonen could be McLaren’s best option for 2010 to get the most points possible. That is unless Renault do indeed quit Formula 1 in which case I’d get Robert Kubica into that second seat quicker than you can say ‘enjoy your ice cream Kimi’!

All will no doubt be revealed soon and I won’t be at all surprised to see Kimi Raikkonen announced as McLaren’s second river for 2010 – for how much is anyone’s guess.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Nico Rosberg, Red Bull, Renault, Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel

Whitmarsh confirms McLaren will be faster in 2010

Courtesy of Mercedes Benz, this is what Martin Whitmarsh had to say about next year’s car:

Work on MP4-25 is already going very encouragingly – it’s already quicker than MP4-24.

There’s every reason for us to be confident that we’ll be able to continue to develop and improve it significantly between now and the beginning of the 2010 season.

That’s very encouraging news as the MP4-24, from the middle of the season, got more competitive with every race. In Abu Dhabi Lewis Hamilton was spectacularly dominant in Free Practice and Qualifying, and it was clear that the MP4-24 we were seeing at the end of the season was worlds apart from the under-performing car we saw in Australia.

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 of Heikki Kovalainen in Abu Dhabi
[picapp src=”f/b/7/d/F1_Grand_Prix_4bd3.jpg?adImageId=7113869&imageId=6942288″ width=”500″ height=”332″ /]

With all teams, including McLaren, FOTA having agreed to scrap KERS for the 2010, Whitmarsh saying that the MP4-25 is already faster than the KERS enabled MP4-24 is very impressive, so much so that I’m thinking really? Could this just be hyperbole or have the McLaren engineers really made that much progress already? As a McLaren fan I’m obviously hoping for the latter, I guess we won’t really know until testing commences in February 2010.

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Filed under Constructors, Drivers, Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

McLaren in the news – 1st May 2009

Award For Ex-McLaren F1 Boss Ron Dennis @ SKY News
Friday 1st May 2009
The former McLaren F1 boss, Ron Dennis, has been given a lifetime achievement award after a motor sport career lasting more than 40 years.

Dennis, who is widely seen as mentoring Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, stepped down from McLaren Racing in April.

The Briton, who was given the top honour at the Sport Industry Awards, became the team principal of McLaren F1 in 1981. (read more…)

Whitmarsh calls for negotiation on rules @ ITV.com F1
Thursday 30th April 2009
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has expressed concern that the optional budget cap passed by the FIA this week will lead to a two-tier Formula 1, and has called for negotiations between F1 teams and the FIA to reach a more satisfactory outcome.

Whitmarsh said he fully shares the FIA’s cost-cutting objectives and paid tribute to the governing body for its successful initiatives to date. (read more…)

Lewis Hamilton escapes with slap on the wrist over McLaren ‘liargate’ scandal @ Mirror.co.uk Sport
Thursday 30th April 2009
Lewis Hamilton knows what it feels like to be Houdini now as McLaren leapt free of the chains of Liargate with a single bound yesterday.

Britain’s top team got a three-race ban – suspended for a year – from the World Motor Sport Council in Paris.

New McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh was handed the gift of a lifetime on his 51st birthday after masterminding one of the biggest off-track victories in the team’s history. (read more…)

Whitmarsh calls for FOTA involvement @ Eurosport F1
Thursday 30th April 2009
McLaren Mercedes Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh this afternoon became the first team boss to comment on the World Motor Sport Council’s announcement which invites existing and proposed teams to sign up to a cost capped formula for the 2010 season.

The FIA has been calling for drastic cuts in spending from the teams for some time and even proposed a standard Cosworth engine supply ahead of the current season. Nothing ever came of that project but now the sport’s governing body is looking to embrace lower costs and try to entice new entrants into the series for next year. (read more…)

Mosley Praises McLaren Boss @ Fox Sports F1
Thursday 30th April 2009

FIA president Max Mosley has praised McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh after the hearing which saw the team receive a suspended three-race ban.

Whitmarsh was humble in front of the World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris. The hearing was held to decide how to punish McLaren for after the team admitted five charges of being in breach of the International Sporting Code.

Mosley said: “Martin made a very good impression.” (read more…)

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Filed under Constructors, In the news..., McLaren