There have been a number of high-profile changes in Formula 1 during the off-season, and many of them have occurred at McLaren.
After Ron Dennis’ high-profile boardroom dismissal in late 2016, the Woking-based squad appointed Zak Brown as its new executive director, announced that its new car will drop the MP4 moniker and there is speculation that it will adopt some form of orange livery for its 2017 challenger.
The team’s CEO Jost Capito, a Dennis appointee, left McLaren earlier this week and its team manager Dave Redding was confirmed as joining Williams later this year.
In a Q&A with McLaren’s official website, the team’s racing director Eric Boullier discussed the many transformations that have occurred ahead of the new season, and he explained that change had long been a part of the team’s history and hinted that more alterations could be expected as part of its drive to improve its F1 standing.
He said: “I think you have to realise that Formula 1 is all about change. Change is what drives our sport – change in drivers, in regulations, in races, in almost everything. Second, I think it’s worth emphasising that McLaren in particular has always been about change.
“From our roots in the 1960s, it was change that drove our successes in Can-Am, in IndyCar and at Le Mans. It was change that led McLaren to become an automotive constructor. And it was change that transformed McLaren from a race team into an international, multi-faceted technology group.
“And we’ll change again and again and again as we continue to improve our fortunes both on and off the track.
Boullier also explained that McLaren had not attempted to block Redding’s move to Williams given his long-standing ties to the team. Former chief mechanic Paul James will replace Redding, who will fulfil a factory role at McLaren until he moves on in the middle of the year.
“Dave was offered an opportunity with another team, and we didn’t want to stand in his way,” said Boullier. “Let’s not forget, he’s been at McLaren for 17 years, and I think we’ll always fondly consider him a McLaren man, even when we see him wearing another team’s uniform in the paddock later this year. We’ve been discussing this together for some time; it’s not a sudden decision, and we’re happy for him.”
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s head of race operations, will be more involved in the team’s race strategy and liaise with FIA this year, and Kari Lammenranta, Fernando Alonso’s former number one mechanic, will replace James as chief mechanic. These changes reflect Boullier’s work to make McLaren’s personnel more international.
McLaren confirms BP Castrol technical collaboration
In another new development for McLaren, its widely expected partnership with BP and Castrol, which will take over supply the British squad’s F1 fuel and lubricants, was confirmed today.
The deal also includes BP and Castrol providing products for McLaren’s automotive division, its Mazak-powered machine shop and dynamic chassis rig.
Speaking as the news was announced, Jonathan Neale, chief operating officer, of the McLaren Technology Group, said: “This agreement between McLaren, BP and Castrol is between brands who both share a long-standing and well-recognised passion for innovation in all we do. Our McLaren-Honda team provides a global platform for Castrol to supply bespoke advanced lubricant technology.”
BP and Castrol have already announced a deal with the Renault team to supply the Enstone-based squad with its products from the start of 2017.
Golden prize for young F1 fan
F1’s reputation for technology driven racing and total competition has earned the paddock the nickname of the ‘piranha club’, but it does have a human side.
In collaboration with the Starlight children’s charity, Boullier surprised one young F1 fan with a ticket to the launch of the team’s MCL32.
Boullier visited the home of Oliver and handed him a personalised ticket to the unveiling of the 2017 McLaren, the MCL32, which will be officially launched on 24 February, the same day as Ferrari will reveal its 2017 challenger.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 9, 2017
What do you make of the changes going on at McLaren? Do you expect the team to make a step forward in 2017? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.