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McLaren denies Honda buy-in stories, but Dennis set to increase stake
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McLaren denies Honda buy-in stories, but Dennis set to increase stake
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 May 2014   |  2:28 pm GMT  |  141 comments

Honda will not be buying a shareholding in the McLaren F1 team, according to a team spokesman, but behind the scenes there are plans afoot for a change of balance among shareholders.

A McLaren spokesman said today: “Contrary to recent media reports, Honda has informed us that it has no intention to buy into McLaren. All of Honda’s focus is on the development of its new Formula 1 power unit.”

So it is clear that Honda will not be replicating what Daimler, the parent of Mercedes Benz did, in buying a stake in the Woking outfit. When Daimler made its exit, in order to start its own F1 team in 2010, it sold its stake primarily to Mumtalakat, the Bahraini investment fund.

Now it seems that Ron Dennis is set to increase his 25% stake in the business by buying down some of Mumtalakat’s stake. Mansour Ojjeh retains a 25% stake. Ojjeh has been seriously ill but reports say that he is recovering.


Indeed, this share buy-back programme was part of the basis of Dennis’ return to the helm of the company, replacing Martin Whitmarsh, who had no shareholding.

Dennis has been working hard trying to find not only new title sponsor for the McLaren F1 team, but also a new backer to help him increase his holding in the company. So far the title sponsor has not been secured for the team.

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141 Comments
  1. Kay says:

    Unlike the early eighties when had Marlboro support he took over the McLaren team with his Project 4 team, certainly there is no Marlboro to back him now.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Here’s an interesting question, but what currency do the teams use?
      As in when the sponsors send their cheques in the post, are they in £UK sterling, AUS dollars, Euros, South African Rand or Vietnamese Dong?
      I know I’m being a bit flippant, but there is a bit of a serious side: of course most teams are based in motorsport valley in Southern England and at the moment the exchange rate for UK £Sterling varies dramatically. A canny team can literally get more bangs for their bucks if they choose wisely their sponsors pay cheque currency!

      1. Alec Tronnick says:

        The companies that sponsor F1 are smart enough to know how many seconds TV exposure each part of each car gets and from there, it’s value.
        It’s not too hard to do a ForEx calculation as to how many Dongs that equals.
        The teams would only get a bonus on this if the exchange rate suddenly swung in an unexpected direction, but a smart company would have already forward purchased their Dongs to cover such an unexpected eventuality.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        With the likes of Sauber, Force India and Lotus in fiscal difficulties, then I guess they need every penny/cent/dong/euro they can get their hands on………
        I forgot to mention VEN Bolivars…..oops, sorry if anyone from Lotus is reading this!

  2. HP says:

    James, do you think lack of title sponsor money is hurting McLaren developing their cars?

    1. James Allen says:

      They said before the season started that they had their biggest budget yet this season, even without the title sponsor. So one presumes from that the answer is No

      1. Nick Hipkin says:

        Isn’t that a bigger concern itself James? Possibly a sign that F1 is no longer reaching the audiences that can justify a £30-£40m a year title sponsorship?

        It would be interesting to get your take on ticket prices too James, appreciate there’s no signs of these decreasing but fans are breaking point

      2. James Allen says:

        Yes ticket prices are very high, no doubt about that. Certainly a barrier to entry for many fans, which is regrettable

        That was one of the main items on the agenda when the promoters met Bernie in Barcelona this month

      3. AuraF1 says:

        Or possibly a sign that Dennis refuses to drop the pricecard for a championship winning team when they are no longer right at the front end (I realise they could bounce back next year – but refusal to act like a team in 4-7th placings in the market might not be helping).

      4. Kay says:

        Agree on ticket prices.

        I’ve always wanted to attend an F1 weekend, but the prices are holding me back.

        Oh well, at least I get good coverage of the race at home, just can’t experience the atmosphere.

      5. Monza 01 says:

        It isn’t just ticket prices it’s the whole attitude to the fans driven by greed for even more money.

        How mean was it to take away sector times and other features from the Live timing service for PCs for the first time this season.

        Just having whole laptimes is almost useless for the dedicated F1 follower like myself.

        I would have thought that Bernie would want to keep people like me on side ?

        Obviously he doesn’t care a jot !!

      6. snarfsnarf says:

        I have to agree I feel F1 isn’t very kind to its fans, a lot of the changes seem to be too benefit the organizations involved rather than the fans. I certainly don’t think the fraternity puts fans at the top of the list on decisions. But F1 fans tend to be a hardcore bunch so… Oh well.

      7. Gaz Boy says:

        Just out of interest how much is a one day ticket for the Montreal GP?
        Currently 1 Canadian Dollar is UK £0.55 pence, AUS Dollar 0.99 , USA Dollar 0.92, Euro 0.67 and South African Rand 9.74. Don’t ask me what Vietnamese Dong is!
        Can you buy a ticket in Montreal with different currency? I think Silverstone offers a facility where European and Australasian visitors can pay on-line with Euros or AUS/NZ dollars.

      8. Alex says:

        Does the large budget they have this year factor in funds to develop next years car? Also does uncertainty over title sponsorship, assuming McLaren have any uncertainty on their part, have implication for that development drive for the change to Honda next year?

      9. anon says:

        I might be mistaken, but was it not the case that part of the reason why McLaren’s budget for 2014 is larger than normal is because their shareholders have agreed to forfeit their dividends for 2014 and instead reinvest that money into the team?
        If so, it sounds more like a stop gap solution whilst McLaren seek a new title sponsor – they cannot put off paying dividends forever, so it is only a temporary method for inflating their budget.

      10. Dimitar Kadrinski says:

        Are you forgetting that Honda is coming next year?

      11. John O'Sullivan says:

        I understood they replaced the title sponsor money by reinvesting profits normally taken by shareholders. i.e. an unsustainable situation, designed to get over a short term problem

  3. RichB says:

    I’d like to see them back in the Marlboro colours, never gonna happen though

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      If Macca have no main sponsor, then they could run in whatever livery they wanted to…….
      I reckon they ought to pay loose tribute to founders Bruce and Denny, and race in the tangerine orange of New Zealand………….but good old Ron would never allow such a bright colour on his beloved McLaren’s………

      1. the_rh1no says:

        Bright orange would be amazing

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Yes, it would. And the Dutch would like it too!
        Why aren’t football and motor racing national colours the same eh? Ferrari would be running in a turquoise blue if that was the case, although I suppose the Williams livery is sort of like an England football shirt, albeit advertising is banned at World Cup.
        What about cars being painted in the drivers national colours eh? Felipe can have bright yellow with a splash of green, Daniel can have the green and gold of Australia, Jenson and Lewis white with a red cross, the Germans can have the red, black and orange stripes…………..and so on.
        Well at least identification would be easier.

      3. RichB says:

        not sure ron would want to advertise a cigarette brand nowadays, the image of smoking is ‘dirtier’ than it used to be. don’t Marlboro sponsor Ferrari?

        the 2005 McLaren testing in orange looked great

    2. Matthew Cheshire says:

      They at least need to ditch the silver. They aren’t the silver arrows and now they are just the “other” silver cars.

      And Silver arrows with honda engines? No one will be happy there.

      Honda seem to like Red/White or Red/Black so you could get your wish. I’d vote for Repsol colours but Ron has an image problem in Spain…..

      But if McLaren want their mojo back, they need to be orange again.

      1. HP says:

        It will be White and Red next year because Japan’s flag is White and Red.

    3. Kay says:

      Never say never.

      Lotus, or so called “Lotus” is racing in John Player Special colours despite not being sponsored by them, absurdly enough.

      So one day possibly McLaren might do the same and race in those colours despite not being sponsored by Marlboro.

    4. Elie says:

      I still cant work out why they dont use Mclaren Rocket Red-Im sure they can mix it up with the silver so they dont look like Marussia or Ferrari and it would look spectacular !

      1. Longy says:

        Wasn’t rocket red just a Vodamafone thing though? It was the same colour as the logo if I remember correctly?

      2. Elie says:

        Yeah your probably right, but it goes back to Bruce Mclarens sports cars early 70′s- you would think that takes a precedence over everything

      3. Peter says:

        James what do you make of this. Saw it the other day and now it makes me think it is at the core of all this. I mean why wouldnt Macca snap up a chance to have its say?

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/mclaren-drags-out-decision-on-f1-directors-post-9365573.html

      4. Phenom says:

        I wonder if they even have a rocket red shirt in their teamwear range this year? You certainly wont be seeing them on screen anytime soon…

      5. James Allen says:

        That was a Vodafone thing

      6. David in Sydney says:

        Isn’t it orange, not red?

      7. Elie says:

        Yeah In the metal its between orange & red colour

      8. Elie says:

        I just checked & apparently Mclaren introduced it in the 80′s. MP4-4 with the first Honda -Mclaren V10.

        I actually thought it went back before that.

    5. James Clayton says:

      With Honda on board maybe we’ll see the rebirth of the Earth Car livery! :)

  4. Sebee says:

    Make sense.

    Devalue the company through sub-par performance.

    Buy back as many shares as possible.

    Bring Honda on board.

    Sell said shares to Honda at hefty profit, or some other party once performance returns.

    Why not?

    With each tidbit of info that we learn I belive more and more that this recent McLaren performance is “by design”.

    1. C63 says:

      I am not saying you are wrong Sebee, but the people Ron is dealing with didn’t just get off a banana boat – they are multi billionaires for goodness sake. If you can spot this sort of shenanigans, it’s reasonable to assume they might have too. Wouldn’t you say ;-)

      1. aveli says:

        some billionairs know how to become billionairs through deals while others dont have a clue. so ron can target the clueless ones.

      2. C63 says:

        Good luck finding a clueless billionaire – surely they wouldn’t remain billionaires for very long if they were a soft touch, when it came to deal making.

      3. aveli says:

        have you never heard of wealthy businessmen killing themselves and their entire families because a business deal went wrong? they are ten a penny.

      4. C63 says:

        they are ten a penny…

        I have just put £1.00 in a charity tin.
        Please name 1000 examples ;-)

      5. jmv says:

        What is wrong with banana boats? Banana boats are highly advanced vessels transporting unripe bananas from different countries in the Caribbean, Central America s where they are loaded onboard. Each load has a different on-board ripening schedule till Europe, which is maintained by temperature and air quality control. The key is to maintain the level of ethylene which can reduced or artificially increased.

        Modern banana boats are equipped with loads of sensors and computers, have on board labs, and expertise. Think of a travelling F1 team.

        To hear you degrade banana boats and its people is insulting. Period.

        Loooool! Just kidding :-)

      6. RodgerT says:

        This comment is pretty far up the page and I’ll read through all the rest of the posts but I’m prepared to say right now that this will probably be the most insightful one here.

      7. kenneth chapman says:

        @JMV….as an ex banana boat engineer i also take umbrgage at the pointed denigration of those vessels.

        my vessel, one of the elders and fyffes/united fruit company Gran Flotta Blanco fleet, MV Sulaco was a great piece of advanced propulsion technology by way of turbo electrics, built sometime in the late ’30s by memory, by general electrics.

        a great vessel which we eventually took to the scrap merchants in belgium in 1964. five thousand tonnes of bananss at 18knots when all six boilers were coupled. what a performance? the end of that little era hahaha

      8. C63 says:

        For the avoidance of doubt and to provide clarity to my meaning, I was not denigrating banana boats or their crew. It’s just an expression which implies a degree of naivety exists in a person. Perhaps I should have said ‘still wet behind the ears’.
        I apologise unreservedly if I offended anyone as that was not my intention.

      9. chris green says:

        so jmv – i take it you live in a banana republic.

        ha ha – same hear.

      10. Tyemz says:

        C63 obviously missed the joke. Lighten up C, you haven’t offended anyone.

      11. kenneth chapman says:

        hahaha my banana boat comments, whilst being a bit of background, were decidedly TIC….just for the record

      12. David in Sydney says:

        Just don’t get me started on Chinese slow boats…

      13. Sebee says:

        You know C63, just because one has money doesn’t mean they are a business or financial wiz. You may discover that once you have too much of the stuff, it is like anything else – you try to find somewhere to “keep it”. Like in an F1 team you really don’t care that much about right now, because your life is ending.

        Let’s work on the assuption that GG (No, not Gordon Gekko, I mean Gerhard Gribkowsky) did take that bribe, consider that 44M to one man may enable billions to another. We know so little about what types of shares and rights that 25% represents that my speculation is but a little theory.

        I’m not saying that my theory is fact. I’m not even saying it was engineered this way, but circumstances are permitting moves that are to RD’s likely goals, and he doesn’t miss opportunities.

        McLaren was in engine supply trouble, and I feel due to their position submitted to Mercedes after beating the factory team 3 years in a row. Note that even with the domination of this year and humiliation of last year McLaren is still 3:2 over past 5 years of Mercedes AMG existance in F1 when both had Mercedes engines. But this submission to Mercedes was out of necessity, so now how to make the best of it for RD and McLaren?

        Ron was ousted by Max, who’s no longer around – right? So goal could be to reassert and come back and be the Alpha of this team – most successful privateer in F1, correct?

        Scenario year or so ago was – don’t have engines, can’t keep making Mercedes look bad, can’t throw money out the window to fight against their buying of my top driver, top minds. OK, what can RD do with this dip in performance and loss of main sponsor?

        Retake control of the team, of course!

        Buy back shares. Now illness is one thing, but revenue drop through loss of title sponsor (and who knows how much engines cost them) is another. This hurts the bottom line, this devalues the team through lower profits makes those shares worth less – so a stretch of sub-par (by McLaren standards) performance will make shareholders uncomfortable. Unless shareholders want to hang on in hope of turn around. But Ron controlls the team, so he can use that as negotiating leverage. Don’t sell at this price for example, and I can ensure the value doesn’t increase or drops – would you want to ride that out? You don’t think you can find other places to park that money?

        Who knows what Ron has lined up for McLaren? Maybe he has a deal with Honda to be a sponsor, buy shares, and he’ll make the NSX for Honda as well like he made the SLR. Or maybe he has something else, or nothing.

        One thing is certain, Ron is in a strong netotiating position at this point.

        Oh, and for the share holders, how about this food for thought – performance expectations and potential. You think Honda will come up with some miracle to this Mercedes domination? What are the odds that McLaren will leapfrog Mercedes, RBR, Ferrari in 2015? How much is it costing Mercedes and RBR to be at the sharp end? Is McLaren raedy to invest likewise? Are the shareholders ready to not see any profit for a few years? Exactly!

        And so the submission to Mercedes is not only an effort to keep engines until Honda comes on board, but also a chance for Ron to kill a few other birds with the same single stone. And so he very well may have.

        End of theory.

        Now, can someone explain to me please where the hell this saying “Kill a few birds with one stone” came from? Was there ever a shortage of stones somewhere that it was necessary to conserve said stones when killing birds?

      14. TBP says:

        Seebee, no shortage of stones but if you could take out two birds with one stone it would save time and energy. Leaves you more time to watch F1 or leave comments on James’ site.

      15. barry says:

        My understanding is that it @ birds with one stone. My guess is that way the second bird doesn’t leave the target area, but get creamed along with the first one , though fractionally later. Ever see the pan AM poster of the amorous ducks flying in close formation? perfect chance for 2 birds with 1 stone.

      16. C63 says:

        [mod]
        Where to start? First, let me get this straight – are you really saying, business men who have accumulated multi billion fortunes by dint of hard work, entrepreneurial skill and deal making are not financially astute and could have the [metaphorical] wool pulled over their eyes with ease? You really think that? I know you like to be contrary and I assumed that was because you like the banter which ensues. But c’mon, you have to remain credible.

        [mod].

        Your suggestion that McLaren have deliberately underperformed to flatter their engine supplier – not a chance.

        Revenue drop due to no title sponsor – doesn’t quite fit with the McLaren statement, they have their largest racing budget ever for 2014.

        Existing shareholders will get twitchy with the value of their shares if continued underperformance continues. Miraculously, however, new shareholders will be encouraged by this downturn and can see a bright future which apparently is invisible to the existing stock holders – okaaaay…..

        [mod]

      17. James Allen says:

        Please stick to the discussion and avoid having digs at other posters. Thank you – Mod

      18. Richard says:

        C63, I think you’re missing the point Sebee is making.

        Essentially, the board at Honda aren’t going to sanction any purchase of shares at this time as McLaren clearly in decline. Which it is, main driver and top staff going, only to be replaced by ‘ok’ ones (Sam Michael).

        RD knows this so regained control to ‘turn the ship around’ (not a banana boat, dare not insult one of those fine pieces of engineering!)

        He buys the shares at a lower price, makes McLaren worth investing in again, and so gets more money when Honda, or whoever, does invest. Brawn did it, Sauber did it.

        No Billionaire, or company, is going to invest in a company that isn’t going to deliver a ROI. At the moment investing in McLaren is too much of a gamble for the powers that be in Japan who have their own shareholders to please. If Ron makes it less of a gamble he gets the rewards when they do invest.

        Make sense???

      19. Elie says:

        Sebee its more than plausible and good business minds see opportunity in any situation.

        Its a tight rope that Ron must walk between his responsibilities to the Mclaren board which must be focused on returning Maclaren to the pointy end as soon as possible and his own personal interests. There is very much a conflict of interest in these situations because Mclaren investors want results now- as does Ron for his prestige- but then there is now the stark reality that 2014 is all but over already. So Ron can carefully negotiate the re- build phase with Honda next year and then progress through 2016!. By this time Mclaren will build up its on track performance as well as its image and share price with Hondas association ( win win opportunity for both really).
        If the Honda partnership goes well 2016 is the year they will target serious results -they would be extremely clever/ lucky to do well next year- but even better if they do-Honda buys in on a successful return to F1 without the huge risk of having its own team. Rons smiling because he buys in at low level, board is smiling because e is buildin the brand with Honda and his personal investment, Honda laughing because have access to Mclarens esperience working with Mercedes.. Win,Win all round and the timing couldnt be better- even if it follows unfortunate circumstances with existing shareholders.

      20. Sebee says:

        Elie,

        It’s true. Ron didn’t exactly waste his time off now, did he?

        McLaren are a manufacturer of exclusive cars in limited quantites and have developed a whole new stream of revenue for the company beside all the other stuff the do. So now that cars are up and running and don’t need some hands on time, why not go back to what he knows best? And while at it, why not take advantage of any/all opportunities. These last 2 years are a whole new low for McLaren. Why waste the opportunity.

        Oh, and speaking of a poor ROI Richard mentioned above, and throwing large sums of money around mindlessly as C63 mentioned, isn’t BAR Honda a perfect example of that? How about Toyota F1? Seems to me these are some smart powerhouse companies and very smart businessmen who have advisors, financial experts, etc. Yet they outsmarted themselves when it came to F1. Imagine that!

      21. OldTimer says:

        I think that there is a difference between corporations (that have board members with legal duties, corporate governance legislation and shareholders to deal with) and billionaires. Rich men are unfettered by such considerations and often undertake vanity projects without expecting any return whatsoever. In F1 there are many examples – Lord Hesketh most famously – and football has its Abramoviches as well.

        Title sponsors will always be corporations but investing in a team might equally well attract the billionaire set. Mateschitz has spent big money at Red Bull and been rewarded but had they never succeeded he would have had to spend all that money anyway before finally giving up.

        Who knows where Ron will find the backing he needs?

      22. Sebee says:

        OK, we disagree then.

        Clearly you feel that by whatever reasoning or excuse you wish to make, during entirely stable rules the uber fast 2012 McLaren suddenly couldn’t even find it’s way to the podium by sheer coincidence.

        You obviously don’t agree with me that as far as engines go McLaren was at Mercedes’ s mercy and Mercedes was fed up looking like a slower team, beat by a customer. So you can’t see a simple sentence being spoken such as “You want engines for next 2 years, fall back.” Ok, fair. I however see that sentence being spoken.

        Oh…and.good on you C63 for deciding that all rich folk are financial gurus in your world. I’m sure all are. None of them inherited or fell into fortunes. And none have more money than they know what to do with. I know Bieber is an economic and financial superstar for example. Next thing, you will give McLaren top odds of WCC next year?

      23. C63 says:

        I fear you are missing my point. Ron doesn’t have the money necessary to buy the shares back from the existing shareholders (read the article, he is looking for a backer to help him increase his shareholding). Therefore he will need to convince someone, with the money, to buy into his team. The wheels at that point (for me) fall off your theory. How does he convince the new buyers the future is bright and at the same time convince the existing shareholders everything is going down the tubes? As I said the sort of folk he is dealing with are not daft – they are extremely switched on individuals. If it was so easy to raise funds for F1, why are the poorer teams struggling so much? If all the rich people in the world were a soft touch they should be easy pickings, shouldn’t they?
        As for McLaren turning their performance down to please their engine suppliers – how do you explain them turning it down so far? Was it a Mercedes requirement do you think that McLaren had to fall back to 5th behind another Mercedes powered team? I just don’t see it. If you thinks it’s happened that’s fine by me, I don’t have any deep seated need to convince you. It’s only a light hearted debate after all :-)

    2. james encore says:

      You think he’s looking at Ross Braun? (Buying Honda and selling to Mercedes ?). Or Peter Sauber (Selling to BMW and buying back).

      :-)

      1. TimW says:

        I think Ross Braun has gone back to the curling tongs business now…

    3. Christos Pallis says:

      Do you genuinely think this is the case, I can’t see Ron letting or rather forcing a sub par performance to profit from share dealing?

    4. Sebee says:

      Of course C63. You keep me honest. We can both get defensive. What’s a point of a good discussion if we don’t challenge each other.

      When it comes to Ron, let’s give him the benefit of already having backers when he lays his plan out for us to chat about. He likely knows a few people he could call on if his stack is not sufficient. Or take a loan against some assets, or call Bernie.

      As for performance, it’s a fine game. I didn’t say McLaren has to be 2nd. I say fall back behind Mercedes. And so he may have gone extra distance on that task in getting current holders to be extra motivated to sell.

  5. Andrewinwork says:

    The sponsor offers that would have been there post Australia certainly will have dried up as the season has unfolded. I wonder if they are keeping the car clean ready to be splashed with Honda and Santander next year…

    1. graham bowman says:

      Santander only back alonso,s car. The deal they made with mclaren was done when alonso signed. Hence why ron wants him back.

  6. justafan says:

    So sad to hear those bad news about people of the f1 community, Brabham dead, Schumi and Ojjeh in trouble. Sad.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      And Jenson’s dad too.
      All the Button bashers on this forum seem to forget Jenson (and his sisters Tanya, Samantha and Natasha) have lost their beloved dad, so for Jenson to put aside his understandable grief and distress and drive so well is a huge credit to his professionalism, ability and mental capacity.
      That’s the difference between world champions – the top two inches.

      1. aveli says:

        button hasn’t put aside his grief, i can see it written all over his face and i admire him for having the strength to carry on the way he does in front of the cameras.

      2. justafan says:

        Yes – absolutely right. Poor Jenson. History will never forget his great fight with Lewis at McLaren – and that he prevailed.

      3. Richard says:

        Ha ha ha – suspect you’re looking for a reaction with the prevaling comment. I’m sure someone will bite.

      4. TimW says:

        course he did, if you look hard enough!

      5. Elie says:

        We all loose fathers- god bless em- it doesnt take being a wc to get on with life and your professional career very well after some time dealing with grief.

    2. Kay says:

      Sad to hear about Ojjeh, yes, but then life moves on then future generations become legends as well.

      I wasn’t able to witness Senna’s great times when they happened, but thankful that I am able to watch Alonso, Hamilton, Kimi, Rosberg and some others duel it out. These will definitely become memorable in decades later.

  7. Steven Bremer says:

    James, how concerning is it that one of the most storied teams in the sport does not have a title sponsor?

    I would think that a title sponsor would bring in the funds needed to develop the car for 2014 and in to the future. I know that McLaren isn’t hurting for money though like some of the back markers.

    1. James Allen says:

      Few F1 teams have a title sponsor this year, if you look

      1. Sebee says:

        Yup…very interesting. Why is this?

        If the exposure and viewership is that great, why wouldn’t a brand come in to take advantage of the viewership? Surely there must be a formula and stats that teams use to show viewership, TV time, etc.

        Or could it be that brands don’t want to be associated with a “loser” in this Mercedes domination or RBR being only challanger? Why not just go to FOM, sponsor the show, or go to the TV rights holders and give them ad dollars for target markets presence and not have to dish out crazy coin to be a title sponsor of a team that will get 5 minutes of TV time in a broadcast where the logos will barely be visible…just barely. Why with 10 30s commercials durign the race I can pay less and have my brand clearly shown. Heck, even to feel like a VIP, just go to FOM, buy a paddock club pack of 20 passes and enjoy the lovely VIP treatment for you and your business associates. In essence, FOM itself is the competitor for title sponsors.

        Seems to me like the price for title sponsorship is about to go down.

        This week only, 25% off 2015 title sponsorship! :-)

      2. Erik says:

        Another thing F1 is failing to grasp right now is the online world, a phenomenon that did not exist 20 years ago but is a massive (if not the greatest of all), marketing platform any brand has at their disposal.

        It is therefore not that hard to fathom that some of the worlds most brilliant marketing teams have diverted their attention away from television, a medium that F1 is still very much focused on.

        Tie this together with the fact that the current generation would rather stay super healthy, ride bikes in a park and save the planet, you can come to the conclusion that F1, as the pinacle of an elitist petrol guzzling sport, built arround watching an idiot box for several hours on a pefectly good sunday afternoon may be developing an image problem.

        I was lucky enough to be exposed to F1 when Senna and Prost captured my imagination as a child. I do not think Vettel has the same powers of magnetism on people today. And massive brands would recognise this.

      3. Luke says:

        Good points. Bet it doesn’t help the sponsors get motivated to pour cash in when they can’t even get decent exposure of their big logos on the rear wings anymore. The wings have been reduced in size & then at two points of most tracks, when ironically TV cameras are most likely to be following the fake overtaking, their lovely logo, already reduced in size, is then cut in half again as DRS is employed.
        I’m sure the “geniuses” who came up with DRS didn’t think of that one. With all these silly shenanigans in F1 designed to “improve the show”, I’m not surprised the sponsors are leaving in droves.
        F1 is becoming like those 50 year old bottle-blonde freaks, who have had too much plastic surgery, all in a failed attempt to maintain their youth or fix the mistakes of the previous surgery. See trumpet exhausts! And the ideas just keep getting worse and worse, uglier and uglier.

      4. Elie says:

        If I had to guess Probably :-

        1. F1 CEO going to court over bribery charges
        2. Mercedes domination as you rightly pointed out- means less chance at maximum exposure ,ROI.
        3. The teams/ FIA constant failure to reach consensus on budget controls -cant help F1 in the long term.
        4. Lack of new ideas and interaction with fans – online media.
        5. F1 constantly shooting itself in the foot publically by bagging itself ( comments about noise- be they valid or not, court cases over fuel flow, exploding tyres, etc dont help investor confidence)
        6. Several teams on the constant brink of extinction- see 3- Caterham, Sauber, very recently.

        On the plus side we habe the opportunity for HAAS briging in some US exposure albeit not likely now till 2016. But there are some fundamental things that need to be fixed above and it will improve.

      5. Sebee says:

        Erik,

        I’m a cord cutter and have never looked back and I know my kids are not likely to have cable. Neither is the next generation. These TV deals F1 made may be last hooray before F1 has no choice but to become a web stream channel. Your points are very valid.

        And you’re absolutely right Erik. The most likely period to get TV focus on cars is the pass, and you can’t see a thing on those wings when they open up. All you may see is half and sideways nose logos plus the front wings where the logo is cut up into 3 or 4 parts. It is absolutely true logo space is not ideal and rear wings are wasted.

      6. Sebee says:

        I mean Luke for 2nd point.

      7. Kay says:

        Better than to have a title sponsor like PSVDA (never bothered to find out the correct spelling), then be obliged to put the sponsor’s driver in one of the cars only to smash it to pieces not doing the team any good other than wasting a seat and possible bright talent from delivering potential for the future.

    2. jmv says:

      Bernie is right: GP2 runs at a fraction of the costs faced by F1 teams, and produces an excellent show if not better.

      or perhaps Bernie should give more to the teams instead….

      Sigh…. F1 is becoming more complicated than the EU!
      Once it was the playground of gentlemen racers and private engineering enthusiasts.

      how can we go back?

      1. David in Sydney says:

        I’m a huge fan of spec chassis and customer engine… sure, it’s similar to Indycar, GP2, etc but F1 can’t face financial ruin every decade forever into the future.

  8. Gudien says:

    In previous articles it was stated by McLaren personnel a ‘title sponsor’ was unnecessary? Interesting.

    Meanwhile, as Ron attempts to get his ‘ducks in a row’ in the boardroom the F-1 team continues to struggle on the track. Which is exactly why he hired Martin Whitmarsh in the first place!

  9. Gaz Boy says:

    Contracts are not worth the (toilet) paper they are written on……..perhaps a gentleman’s handshake is better as it implies a moral obligation?
    I say that in relation to when Honda defected from Williams to Macca (for 1988 and beyond) even though Frank and Patrick apparently had a cast iron contract with the Tokyo brigade…….as Bart Simpson would say, yeah whatever!

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      PS Ron, if you read this forum (who knows?) bit of advice from this author: if you want to revive Macca’s floundering fortunes (and results) then go and see a tall-ish young chap called Mr Hulkenberg and his manager with for a cup of coffee and with a draft contract. ASAP.
      Go on Ron, the Hulk is the man to base your revival project for the next few years…….

      1. C63 says:

        @Gazboy
        Go on Ron, the Hulk is the man ….

        I know Macca have been struggling of late, but if they have reached the point where they take driver selection advice from the likes of us (the chattering classes) then they really are in trouble ;-)

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        True enough………….having said that, I still can’t get my head around the fact that after McLaren knew Lewis was heading for pastures knew, they looked around the driver market, and instead of the Hulk they chose Checo…….that error of judgement does sort of epitomise Macca’s malaise.
        The Macca malaise? Snappy title!

      3. Kay says:

        Thank Whitmarsh for that.

      4. C63 says:

        I guess Macca chose Checo, as they had an eye on the Mexican pesos he might bring.
        The macca malaise – sounds like some kind of dance to me :-)

      5. AuraF1 says:

        Their driver line up is fine – it’s the engineering line-up that needs bolstering again. Hulk is a fine driver but I don’t think he’d be leading a one-man revolution. If even an Alonso & Kimi match up can’t do much to save Ferrari – Hulk isn’t going to make the ultimate difference (though I do agree he should have got the drive ahead of Magnussen who seems like he could do with a couple more years build up).

      6. Gaz Boy says:

        “Here at TAG-McLaren International we are pleased to announce that we have signed Nico Hulkenberg for the 2015 Formula 1 season. Together with our new partners at Honda we are looking forward to working with Nico who we believe is a potential WDC and we at TAG-McLaren International will be working flat out to make sure Nico can challenge for the championship.”

        If only………………

      7. Boxboxbox says:

        McLaren didn’t do deep due diligence on Checo’s results from the 2012 season. Amazing what some tire changes and deceptively fast times can look like. The Telmex money didn’t hurt either. They also looked at Hulk and Bottas as you will remember. Quite plausible to see Hulk taking Jenson’s seat upon his retirement, but that’s 2016. As much as I would love to see Fernando win another WDC, it’s not gonna happen with Macca. If anyone can navigate the difficult terrain, it’s Ron. AuraF1 is right. It’s talent outside the car which will make the big difference. Reunion with Honda and departure from Merc has its risks. So much to figure out!

    2. I know says:

      Contracts can be worth a lot of money. Just don’t assume too much when a team announces a “cast iron” contract. Such contracts always have get-out clauses that aren’t made public. On the other hand, when a team, sponsor or supplier ends a contract prematurely, the contractual penalty will almost never be revealed.

  10. Ahmed says:

    Oh how the mighty have fallen. McLaren are effectively a midfield team. Aus 2014 was just a question of luck with vettel and hamilton suffering dnf’s along with ricciardo’s exclusion

    1. NickH says:

      True. And they don’t seem to know how to develop anymore. Ferrari started the season behind them and have now well and truly gone passed them performance wise.

      1. Ahmed says:

        Its gonna take them atleast 5 years to constantly fight at th top again

      2. W Johnson says:

        And the great Ferrari are not performing much better with all their sqillions…..

      3. NickH says:

        Ferrari seen to be slowly moving forwards though which can’t really be said about Mclaren. Lots of cars retired/had problems in Monaco, Mclaren would have maybe just scraped a point without everyone dropping out in front if them.

        Pretty bad for a team that have their biggest ever budget for this season

      4. W Johnson says:

        Are Ferrari moving forwards? They may be the the third best team at best….but as we come to a series of power circuits, the Mercedes engine teams will put Ferrari back under pressure……Ferrari have a huge advantage over McLaren in so far as they produce their own engine, albeit looks third rate to the Mercedes at the moment. Mercedes supplied the engine to McLaren and other customer teams as late as possible….always going to be more challenging for the customer teams to respond.

  11. Paige says:

    James,

    I would argue that it is clear what Ron Dennis’ main focus at the moment is. And that main focus is a Spaniard driving a red car right now.

    Don’t you think it’s interesting that he has publicly stated that he is open to Alonso coming back, especially with Honda coming in next year? I’m sure they have mentioned it to him by now.

    Of course, Alonso won’t leave unless he gets a better car, which he is not guaranteed at McLaren. And I am sure that he would only rejoin McLaren on his terms, and we know what those are.

    1. Rockie says:

      If that’s his focus Mclaren would not fear better than they are right now with Alonso he’s been at Ferrari with bottomless pit of cash and it’s same as he has gotten there

    2. KAlan says:

      I had asked James a question along the same lines a couple of months back and he was kind enough to reply, saying Ron told him in Bahrain that he would welcome Alonso.
      I think Ron would want him back. More importantly, Honda would want him. But the word is that Alonso will not give Ron the time of day, something James more or less agreed with, not in so many words though.
      I think the Mclaren move could have materialized but don’t see it happening with Ron there unless someone like Ross Brawn ends up at Mclaren and then maybe.
      Alonso is caught in a vicious cycle at Ferrari. Every year there is something for him to think next year might be it. Now it’s James Allison for 2015.

      1. Kay says:

        I don’t think it’s more like Ron being there that’s blocking Alonso, more like they aren’t likely to have a race-winning car next year. All Alonso wants are WDCs, and to have no.1 status in the team. Alonso’s had bad blood with Ferrari before (2006 Italy GP if I remember correctly, where Ferrari / Massa claimed Alonso have blocked Massa’s flying lap thus Alonso’s fastest lap removed, or something like that), yet still joined Ferrari in 2010.

        If he goes to McLaren, Button would have to move aside, and everything would have to be on his terms.

        Still, I have my doubts with time being a huge factor. He’s getting old and it takes time to develop a team, something he’s done already at Ferrari so it’d be pointless to do that from scratch again. My money is on Alonso to see out his career at Ferrari.

      2. Krischar says:

        @ Kay

        Alonso can see out his contract at Ferrari yet his exertion’s have not yielded him a WDC for the 5 season’s mainly beacuse Ferrari are spineless and they do not have any aura about them since 2008 when massa fought for WDC with the fastest package F2008. Ferrari may be ahead of Mclaren for now yet in the long run i hope Mclaren will turn it around quicker than Ferrari. Mclaren have produced fast packages in 2010 and 2012 which were potential WDC winners yet Mclaren lost WDC due to certain other factors.

        Fast forward from 2015 with a decent PU from honda Mclaren will move forward, i am cert about this. YEt i cannot see Ferrari’s progression not even in 2015. Ferrari are simply lackdaisical team bar the Wizard Alonso and they do not have any hunger to win (Except Alonso who only likes to win)

        I will say forget 2007 Alonso and move forward to get few more potshot’s at WDC titles with Mclaren or even some other team if an option can be made realisitic through shrewd Negotiations

        Alonso the Bravura

    3. Elie says:

      Paige, I think the next few months are going to be fascinating in this saga.

      Alonso can say he would not go back if Dennis is there. But if Ferrari continue being beaten by Mercedes and Red Bull ( at this stage). Add to that Raikkonen getting to grips with the F14T and making Mr 150% look like 88,75% & soon Ferrari may just get sick of explaining to the world why they have to move Kimi out of way- given thats what they hired him to do.

      Its really interesting that Ldm is praising FA now. Im certain hes just buying time also till they see how this year pans out and they want to keep FA firing on all cylinders till he/ they examine options. These include people like Bianci, Hulkenberg who are shooting the lights out atm.

      But what are his options:- Red Bull wont take him as they have a few juniors in their program that are already held in high regard & a couple more to come! Mercedes are locked in ( although this battle with LH & NR could prove interesting also in the longer term)

      Reality is he only has Ferrari or Mclaren in the short term & Given hes contracted to Ferrari it seems hes going nowhere soon unless Mclaren or Someone else comes up with a Silver Bullet concept for next year in these coming months. Perhaps theres is Lotus if he can take his sponsors over it may be a possibility but a long shot at best- hes worked there before but its a different ball game now.

      I sense a lot more anxiety from our feisty spaniard and possibly of the swallowing of a lot of humble pie in the process. Something other drivers can do. But perhaps not him…

  12. Ace says:

    I’m just trying to understand when Ron Dennis’ coup will bring Mclaren fighting at the top.

  13. Chris says:

    Mclaren look like they are suffering Williams decline of the late 90s/early 2000s!!

    1. Kay says:

      Except Ron isn’t quite as stubborn as Williams in removing drivers even though they bring wins for the team, causing their own decline. Ron try to hang on to talents like mad (other than Alonso in 2007 of course where he caused more trouble and penalties than he wanted).

      Give his past successes with Project 3, Project 4 then McLaren up till his first retirement from managing the F1 team, Ron will drag them back to winning ways I’m sure.

    2. Sujith says:

      Williams went downhill after they lost BMW. That’s not a secret. With Honda joining them next year, face it, Honda, who has probably learned more from the Engine Manufacturers who have got it all wrong this year, could be doing the business next year!

      Who knows? They might come up with the next best thing in Engine design and it could suite McLaren well.

      But as this season has proved so far, aerodynamics is still king in F1. They have to come up with a good chassis too to have a shot at the title.

  14. Paul Elliott says:

    James.

    Is there any rumours about Williams and a works engine deal? I’m still surprised
    Frank hasn’t managed to pull someone like Toyota or BMW back to F1 like McLaren has with Honda.

    Williams F1 is a potential Giant with all there history, I would love see them back at the front.

    1. James Allen says:

      Why would Williams want to leave Merc at this point? The cost of the turbo V6s comes down as the years go on, it’s going to be the benchmark for some time yet.

      1. snarfsnarf says:

        James are you saying Mercedes will still have a similar engine advantage next year?

      2. James Allen says:

        Not similar, but if you start out well ahead and you invest heavily in proven people and technology you are likely to remain in front to some degree

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        I’m going to shove a massive Montoya sized spanner in the works here, but imagine, just imagine if Frank does a deal to run Honda V6′s for, say 2016 or 2017!
        Wouldn’t that be ironic, eh? Nearly 20 years since Mr Honda binned Williams in favour of McLaren and then two decades later the blue and white boys together with the Tokyo brigade are reunited!!!!!!
        Honda with Williams in the future? Don’t count it out folks…………although I imagine a chappie called Ron wouldn’t be very impressed……….
        “I thought you said TAG-McLaren International had exclusive rights to the Honda engine?”
        “Only for 2015 Mr Dennis, after that it’s available on the market…………”
        One for the future….

      4. Chris says:

        I think their is an awful lot of bad blood between Williams and Honda. Of all the engines on the grid, that is the least likely one Williams would choose.

  15. jim says:

    I’d imagine ron and co will never find an investor like Mercedes again, after it was made clear they had no say in the team. Could of had Lewis and Nico at mclaren, but cpt. ron said no way, forcing Mercedes to divest from cpt. ron racing. Strangely, Mercedes seem to be doing quite well without cpt. ron around. Who’d of thunk it??? :P

  16. Pkara says:

    It would be great if Mclaren can be winning again.
    Ron Dennis is the man with a plan. He must have a set plan with the way he stymied Whitmarsh & got control of the board. He must be setting plans to get a higher stake in Mclaren. I think he’s doing a Bernie…taking net gains then going in for a full takeover.
    So long as it works & success is shown on the race track then I reckon it’s a win win. Unbelievable that no major sponsor is on the cars. Looks like they are either waiting fir Honda to cover the cars in there logos or no one wants or can afford to advertise on there cars.

  17. Joe S says:

    Honda aren’t buying in….for now at least. It could be a different story in a few years.

    And McLaren look like suffering a late 90s/early 00s Williams decline? That is harsh to say, yes McLaren have been poor for coming up to two years now but Williams had more than that and they came back in the early 2000s to win races and put in a title challenge, something which they never looked at all like doing in the second half of the 00s which was a truly dismal time for them.

    They still are in the woods really and 2012 was just an exception. People seem to be afraid to be critical towards Williams, maybe because they’re maybe seen as the “darling of F1″. I never really cared for Williams much at all and don’t really like them, which will probably attract some criticism. I assume a lot of their fandom stems from Mansell and Hill?

    The times for private teams have been gone for some time now, a team like McLaren has benefited from big backing from Bahrain and Mercedes. The chances of someone like Williams consistently winning races, I just can’t see it unless some form of a budget cap and more cost cutting comes in and we all know how hard that is to even begin to sort.

  18. M Wishart says:

    James just a couple of points.

    Any news about what has happened to Martin Whitmarsh? Is he still on gardening leave or has he left Mclaren now?

    Also what about Michael Schumacher that has gone quite in the main media, how is his treatment coming along?

    Cheers

    1. Kay says:

      JA replied to this previously in one of his comments on another article.

      Apparently Martin took the cash and left the company.

    2. C63 says:

      Hi, sorry I am not James.

      Martin Whitmarsh has left McLaren – apparently a £multi million severance package was made. James mentioned it on this site a while back.

      Sorry, I can’t help you regarding MSC condition.

  19. Pierce says:

    “Indeed, this share buy-back programme was part of the basis of Dennis’ return to the helm of the company, replacing Martin Whitmarsh, who had no shareholding.”

    So, Ron Dennis only regained control by promising to buy back shares from other stakeholders. In other words the other shareholders only put him back in control in exchange for money and a reduction in their liability to Mclaren. It seems to me that Ron Dennis is the only one who really believes that Mclaren can return to prominence. It also sounds like Ron Dennis absolutely had to buy control back. I never really believed anyone could’ve wanted Ron back in control other than Ron.

  20. Pierce says:

    If Ron had given Alonso the #1 status he promised him in 2007, Mclaren would not have been through this tough spell.

    1. James Allen says:

      Or even just the rub of the green on certain key moments.

    2. Kay says:

      Yup, no blockgate (Hungary 2007), MIGHT have won the WDC as well and definitely the WCC for 2007, MIGHT have won the WDC for 2008 for Alonso though that’d be as tight as 2007. There MIGHT not have been a spygate had Alonso been kept a happy man and not exposed Coughlan and Stepney.

    3. snarfsnarf says:

      Just to be clear it was apparent there was a fundamental disagreement between Ron and Alonso, nobody has confirmed it was over #1 status. I think Ron handled the year terribly and ultimately lost control all because of this. Apparently the disagreement is enough for Alonso to not even consider anything with Ron, and if Ron is at Mclaren, he won’t be there.

  21. Kay says:

    I doubt a major backer is a main issue for McLaren and Ron Dennis in the short term now that the company sell cars, something that Enzo Ferrari did in order ro fund his racing activities, though eventually at some point he’d still need some big backer to help in a little.

    Ron will bring McLaren back to winning ways, I’m sure of it. Just look at Ron’s past history in managing teams tells you a lot how much he thrives for success and how he’s achieved it.

    Even after Newey left the team, McLaren weren’t as bad as many predicted. Still produced great cars up till 2008, and during that time Newey’s Red Bull cars didn’t shine at all until 2010, a year after major rule changes. So Ron certainly knows what strings to pull to bring the best out of everyone, even if they are no Adrian Newey.

    Best of luck to him and hope to see McLaren back to winning ways soon, preferably as soon as next year.

  22. kenneth chapman says:

    ron dennis is mclaren & mclaren is ron dennis.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Indeed.
      The situation with Honda over exclusivity is what I find most interesting.
      Macca have the rights to the Tokyo V6 for 2015, but after that? Who knows how the contract is worded, but if it is a major success, or at least very good, I would imagine Honda would want to spread their PU around, rather than put all their eggs in Ron’s basket.
      Thing is though, would Ron allow that? Can he allow that? Can Honda say “like it or lump it Ron, we’re selling our engines to customer teams to balance our overheads whether you like it or not.”
      Will McLaren and Honda be a one-hit wonder, engine supplier wise?

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        i distinctly recall reading an article somewhere that said that it was honda’s call and that ATM they were considering giving mclaren exclusivity for 2016 as well!

        i shall search and see if i can find it…..

    2. Kris says:

      That’s very worrying for the future of McLaren. I was very fond of them with Lewis and Jenson as drivers. You felt that they weren’t far away from cracking it and getting back on top (indeed, it looked like they were for a few stretches). It just became so hard to like them, though, what with all the messing up with strategic decisions, tactical mistakes in races and DNFs when they had a good car. Add to that Whitmarsh’s apparent lack of spine, and it all became a bit too much. Dennis clearly isn’t the answer. This isn’t the early 1990s and having a disciplinarian come stand in the garage to “observe” all makes it a little embarrassing and difficult to (re)develop any form of affinity with the team. Add to that this the constant flow of silly PR and it’s no wonder they’re having trouble attracting a title sponsor.

  23. graham bowman says:

    Ithink you all missed the bigger story
    “(Dennis) but also a new backer to help him increase his holding in the company.”
    He needs to borrow money to buy more shares. Going for broke, all or nothing, one last chance for world domination.

  24. Paige says:

    I don’t think McLaren will have trouble finding a title sponsor. The team has history, they will have cooperation with one of the biggest corporations on the planet, and they do have some talented engineers. This is an attractive team for a sponsor wanting to be a title sponsor.

    I think they know they are about 4 years away from being a real world championship contender. Honda will need a couple of years to get their performance level to a competitive place, probably, and the team clearly needs to a boost in performance itself. But they have some new people coming on board, and critically, they will be a works team- and you can’t underestimate the value of that.

    As for Honda buying in, frankly, I think it’s really not great for manufacturers to own teams- the exception being Ferrari, for whom F1 is a large part of their existence. You can’t say that about other manufacturers who have been in F1. These guys can buy a team, and then a global corporate board can decide by a vote that the team is finished. Brawn got lucky and was snapped up by Mercedes, but even they were close to bailing at one point. Sauber has never been the same since BMW bailed.

    The place for manufacturers is in making engines in close working partnerships with teams. This has always worked in F1. The manufacturers get the value to road car development that they really can in F1, which is from the engines (blown diffusers don’t contribute much to the road product), and the teams get to play with the chassis and the aerodynamics of their toy rockets to fly around the corners an win. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. And Honda, having owned teams twice in F1 and built the best engine for nearly a decade in F1 as a mere engine supplier, know this.

    1. kenneth chapman says:

      you say that honda will need a few years to be on the money when it comes to performance. i very much see them being hot almost from day one.

      they are currently running twin turbo direct injection V6 engines in indy cars which gives then a great platform for development. obviously the F1 PU is extremely complicated when the add-ons are brought into the equation but with honda’s expertise and experience that should not be too much of a problem.

      they will also have the mclaren mercedes data to call upon as a benchmark. i should imagine that they have been bench testing for quite some time now and will be on to it come the first tests at the end of this season.

      i do like the idea of them coming back into F1. they have a great record in engine development and performances.

      i think also that based on marko’s comments we may just see VW putting their toes into the water when it comes to engine/PU development. both porsche 919 and audi E-tron utilise extremely advanced PU’s in their WEC cars. i wouldn’t be surprised if they were actually ahead of F1 at the moment. interesting times ahead…

  25. Kaartik says:

    Hi James, could we see Sebastian Vettel joining Mclaren team? If Seb join them that might act as a catalyst for Mclaren which could bring them back to winning ways. What you say?

    1. James Allen says:

      Why leave Red Bull?

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        i also don’t see vettel leaving red bull either. sooner or later they will get closer to mercedes and then we will see some decent competetive racing. personally i would like to see him move and then we may see just how good he really is!

        the 2015 regs allow for significant changes to the PU which hopefully will iron out some of the big performance margins. vettel will be hoping to be in a better place as a result. the one problem i do see as looming is internal competetion from the other side of the garage.

        IMO ricciardo can only get better as the season progresses and he will need to do that as vettel will be formidable when he reaches his past form. i expect that sooner rather than later.

        if he is not looking too good by the latter stages of the season he may well then look at maclaren, possibly, but not ferrari unless they can give him a WDC car. that is however most unlikely.

      2. Kaartik says:

        New Challenge. I strongly believe Seb as a strong leader and good motivator. He achieved everything with Redbull and seeing how dominant Merc’s are it will atleast two more seasons for other teams to beat them which would be ideal time for him to join Mclaren and settle. Above all I’m a huge fan of Ron’s Mclaren :)

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