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New behind the scenes McLaren F1 series to show road to Honda break-up
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Jan 2018   |  9:22 am GMT  |  71 comments

Amazon Prime has announced that its new documentary series called Grand Prix Driver will be streamed on February 9.

All episodes will be available from that date and the series is being promoted on Amazon Prime’s flagship show Grand Tour.

The series is narrated by F1 loving actor Michael Douglas, a regular guest of McLaren at Grands Prix over the years. It has been written and executive produced by Manish Pandey, who was behind the Senna documentary, which he made with director Asif Kapadia.

On this project he has collaborated with F1 insider Chris Connell and You Tube guru Anwar Nuseibeh.

The Amazon series goes behind the scenes from the start of 2017, before the launch of the new F1 car, it shows the crushing disappointment of the first test of the car in Barcelona and Alonso’s damning comments, then tracks the efforts that went on behind the scenes from there to remedy the situation with engine supplier Honda.

The crew was given access to key meetings, briefings, the workshops and other key moments and places in the season.

It charts the season to the divorce announcement at Singapore in September.

“It’s no secret that this has been the most difficult season in McLaren’s history and it would have been easy for them to close the doors on us,” said Pandey.

“Instead, the team trusted Prime members to understand the mind-blowing complexity of modern Formula 1 and to recognize that all competitors take falls – but only great champions get up again, fight and win.”

The series looks at the preparations of driver Stoffel Vandoorne for his rookie season, which went very wrong as the new Honda engine left him and Alonso well short of competitiveness.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Funny how McLaren do this, after 1993’s “The Team”. Is there something about them wanting to increase engagement when they are in the polar opposite of a purple patch?


Not long now,we’ll soon be seeing Macarens latest “dynamic””inovative”and”aggresive” livery .That should start moving them up the grid.


Before posting a comment, I just need to check where,…… and if it’s ok to use the toilet facilities here.


@ Hello…hahahah ‘Still I Rise’.


It depends entirely on what number comment you’re trying to post


Hamilton told me it was OK but you better ask James😄


Will there be such an Amazon documentary soon about Formula 1 and what went wrong?

Level 4 automation…so so near now. 1 year…maybe 2 and drivers no longer matter. Who enjoys the chore of daily commute anyway?



That would be great seebee if someone did that. Unfortunately I can’t get the Amazon stuff as my internet connection has too low of a data cap.

Someone said that the Mercedes breakup was because Ron Dennis said that McLaren could not win competing with a factory team using the same engine which may be true. I thought Mercedes was mad at McLaren for making it’s own engines for it’s road cars. Maybe that’s why Mercedes entered F1 as a factory team in the first place. I dunno?

If McLaren could have kept Mercedes power but didn’t, it’s madness. No wonder why Dennis had to go even though he may be right but let someone else test the Honda thing before being fully committed.

I think McLaren only got one podium the last time they had Mercedes power but I don’t think that was because of the engine totally even if they got a little less HP than Mercedes and not having the upgrades as quick.


Don’t forget the $100m fine fir Spygate – they weren’t too chuffed about that as 40% shareholders


@ James…I seem to recall that there was some friction between Dennis and Mercedes when Mercedes wouldn’t give McLaren access to the software drivers controlling the engine performances? Was it that incident that resulted in his response that no non factory team would ever beat the engine supplier?


Are we talking about 2009 or 2014?


Here’s a thought Sebee: You’re (not) driving to work, nice and relaxed, reading JAonF1 or reading the paper or watching X-Files in your awesome little GM Skynet vehicle, when all of a sudden it decides to brake hard to avoid some random person crossing the road.

Would GM be liable for any injuries you might sustain?


Random, if you look around you will find an astonishing figure of 1.3 million people being killed on the roads each day. This is an incredible figure that goes unreported by news media. Because if with each daily report of deaths on the roads we were reminded of the fact that 1.3 million people die on the roads each year, we’d be much more motivated to do something about it.

As it stands, we decide that 1.3 million deaths a year is acceptable just so that we have the right to drive ourselves.

Now that we’ve established that we generally suck at driving ourselves, let me tell you this simple truth. Automation isn’t going to reduce road deaths to 0. But if it takes the number down to even half a million a year, that’s a 700,000 win. And believe me, there is nothing BUT room for improvement in the failure rate of autonomous cars which may case death. There is absolutely NO CHANCE of such improvement with humans driving ourselves. We have proven that beyond doubt with the deaths number claiming and not falling.

So to answer your question, no, GM would not be liable. You would accept the risk with the terms of the user agreement, knowing full well the system is significantly more safe than any taxi driver you’ve ever hired or any time you’ve driven yourself.

DYK that when that dude was killed in the Tesla, Tesla released data showing their “autopilot” or level 2 autonomous driving software was already 50% safer (based on incidents) than same hours data sample of humans driving themselves.


Each year! Not each day. 1.3m killer on roads per year. Forgive error.


Now worries Sebee, forgiven.

Now if only you had a level 4 automated comment system to do all your daily commenting for you and eliminate these errors in the first place 😉


Nope Sebee, still not convinced.


…oh, and I’m sure the insurance policy in place will cover loss of life.

Amount will be capped just as it is with current policies. And controlling the insurance cost will be an additional incentive for GM for continuing to improve safety. Better safety leads to less claims leads to lower premiums paid by GM for the Autonomous car service it will provide.

The goals are aligned Random.


What aren’t you convinced about Random?

Are you telling me that you’ll be allowed to get into an autonomous car without checking off a user’s agreement?


No Sebee, I’m telling you that you wouldn’t get me into one in the first place.


Interesting. I also heard there is autonomous racing already with all cars being the same and the only competition being the software.

F1 is always talking about saving money. What about no drivers? That should save some and Hamilton would not be in the news all of the time for his girlfriends, Twitter posts, etc. instead of their driving?

No I don’t think so but you never know.


If that’s the case then I tend to think that you’d save time (and money) by watching the demo runs on Gran Turismo 🙂


We just got Prime – so looking forward to watching the series. Prime seems like a good deal – $99/year with free 2-day shipping on stuff. So, watch a few videos and get shipping free. Hope someday they work out a deal so I can watch F1 on Amazon!
BTW, Amazon’s business model can be seen as controversial – make no or minimal profit, in the process driving others out of business – is this the same thing we heard about Wal Mart years ago?
The world is changing – and so is F1. To quote from the ‘Incredibles’, ‘different is … better.’ We hope it is.


It’s a busted theory about capitalism that never, ever comes true. Walmart may have driven others out of business with low prices and margins…but they (and every other company that’s ever gone down that route) never get to the part where they can then jack up prices with their new monopoly. Because new competitors always spring up to compete. We’ve never had cheaper consumables in the history of mankind thanks to this imperfect system that actually works.


Maybe there is a Honda training film in japan showing the folly of the wise old head at mclaren being deposed by a lot of ambitious kids and the resulting disaster lol.


I love these loser docos. Sadly too few are available in my area.


Perfect timing as I’ve just signed up to Amazon Prime. While the Grand Tour is, largely, disappointing (rehashing old Top Gear antics and they’re so old, sick and fat. Take your pick) I am looking forward to seeing this show. It will help pas the time until testing starts.


Clarkson being fat isn’t exactly new is it.

I agree though it isn’t great. Although I wouldn’t be surprised that enough people still watch it and it gets renewed for more series.


Yep Grand Tour is a mish mash of top gear.
Reckon they have one more series left before the aging dinosaurs are put to rest !!
Don’t think Amazon like to flog a dead horse for too long. It’s becoming tedious & repetitive.
Hilarious though & seeing Hammond in a large super sports car I’m surprised he doesn’t use “Short Rounds” wooden blocks on his feet from Temple Of Doom 🤣
It’s like an oversize suit handed down by your mum from your big brother. Ill fitting and turn ups do no justice.
Grand Tour is heading for a Grand Exit
…probably onto Channel 5 inbetween “What Elvis had for his last meal” and “Aliens ate my poodle “.
Looking forward to this new prog series by the makers of Senna.


I like to call it Not Top Gear.

The thing is though as The Grand Tour starts to decline, actual Top Gear is starting to find it’s stride a bit again.


Random79 …Yep Top Gear now that “Lack of Personality Evans has gone”. It’s really getting its groove on. Think they’ve got the right momentum going.


Please send us your review of the shows


That’s easy James. It’s rubbish. Basically a rehash of things they did on Top Gear years ago. Clarkson looks old and fat. Richard Hammond looks ill. Too many car crashes possibly and James May doesn’t look or act like the James May of old. What was a grand tour of taking the tent around the world for filming has become a fixture near Clarkson’s home. The test track is pathetic and the guests embarrassing. I tried watching the second season but have given up. I very much doubt Amazon will renew beyond the currant contract.


I suspect James was referring to the McLaren thing.


i heard f1’s looking to improve the show by changing the race format. may be they should introduce lanes and the drivers choose their lanes at the start of each lap. that would eliminate all overtaking and defending disputes.


“that would eliminate all overtaking and defending disputes”

Not at all aveli.

Now, if you also introduce a rule where you’re only allowed to overtake on the left (or right, depending on the country) – That will work 🙂


“200 mph”? Who are they addressing? The 0.1% of the world’s population who are still using 18th century units? Well, certainly not me.


The metric system was created in 1799 (in the 18th Century), so it’s not exactly modern…


Mojo, to be fair the film is in English, and as the vast majority of the English speaking world uses miles per hour, it is appropriate to use that measure.


I’m pretty sure the entire population of the USA & UK combined make up a little more than 0.1% of the world’s population….


It’s actually about 5% (389 million out of 7.6bn)


The new JC, bang on! Actually there are more than 0.1% of the worlds population living in London…..


The most prestigious team? really??


How the mighty fall!
I love McClaren, and I hope they make it somehow, back to the top again. It seems like an eternity, the days where it was Ferrari, McLaren and Williams fighting it out.
Oh well, suppose we have to move with the times😳


I feel a Prince song playing in the distance
James k. Sentimentality is always allowed amongst fans but for the F1 teams the present is always the most important. 2018 is where its at for now 😎


This seems an awfully petty move by McLaren. “Look, we did everything we could. It’s the other guy’s fault.” Move on. Wonder if other McLaren partners would be keen to have the team throw them under the bus on Amazon?


@DC Corey – This was started before testing, so it could equally have been a series about McLaren-Honda triumph in 2017.

Not McLaren’s fault that that was not the way it turned out, and they would have already spent the money Amazon paid to get this access.


@ DC Corey…ever given any thought to the need to set the record straight instead of relying on second/third hand reports that are totally biased towards one party or the other. I for one would welcome any information that throws light on reality for both Honda and McLaren.


I for one would welcome any information that throws light on reality for both Honda and McLaren.

Me too!


Why is the show called “Grand Prix Driver” when it’s about McLaren?


I will watch it but I don’t have high hopes for the series. Surprised they used so many shots from an empty track (I guess from testing or a filming day). I don’t anticipate any dramatic behind the scenes footage. Anyway hope I’m proved wrong.


The Senna documentary is still a stand out production.
Has to be seen once a year. The final moments of Senna on track. I remember watching stunned at what Sir Sid Watkins said “Senna breathed a final time and it was as if Sennas soul had left his body.”
After which they did the Amy Winehouse film. Another great film of a great singer who passed away.

SO this F1 series will be in great hands.


Sorry BKFlamer, I have to slightly disagree – personally the best grand prix feature film I have seen is “Jochen Rndt letzter Sommer.” Many on this forum will not have seen it because it is German language only which is a major pity, as the story of the “James Dean of Formula 1” features an absolute treasure trove of wonderful footage of Jochen opposite locking his Lotus 49/72s (although Rindt’s tacky fur coat probably wouldn’t be allowed in today’s ultra PC world!)

Carlos Santana even allowed the use of “Jingo” and ” Oye Como Va” and his Latin guitar histrionics are the absolute perfect sonic background as on the incredible last lap of the 1970 Monaco GP Rindt charges after Jack Brabham forcing the Australian into a mistake on the last corner for Jochen to take an unlikely victory.

Jochen Rindt Leztzer Sommer – can’t recommend it enough.


BBC1 F1 The Dangerous years showed abit of this driver. Also explained the cars were highly flammable. It was about the old racing cars using zinc in their structure which catches fire instantly (Lauda’s car had this) plus they were sitting near the fuel.
Never seen the German programme so cannot comment on it. The Senna film is still the best in my mind. But will try and find your German documentary.


Sounds great👌. Wonder if it will include the Ron Dennis grand opening of the Mclaren Honda start and then the fall out from the ousting of Big Ron


This has the potential for awesome insight to the Honda issues. How diplomatic will the footage be?


Well maybe you guys in the UK could get a jailbraked Amazon Fire TV stick or similar to watch the races on something besides Sky because it seems to be an issue for you all.

BTW Liberty didn’t make that deal. So don’t blame us.

As for stealing. Don’t do that if you feel it is or it breaks some kind of law I’m not aware of but there are lots of those things for sale on eBay. Just pointing out there are ways around things if they are oppressive.


Will it be shot on Zapruder film?

Brought to us by producers of C.S.I.?

Is this Amazon’s answer to Stranger Things?

…so many questions.


So, it’s a new old drama series :).

Moving on, I wish McLaren and Alonso, come up with the recently announced new fresh livery, and most importantly Renault comes up with a super engine.
I seriously doubt all this, specially if the Renault chassis is competitive.

I’m also since 95/95 watching F1. It was never this sad, not going to complain about the Hybrid mistake or the changes up and down on rules and FIA state of moods. I was able somehow to deal with that, but NOT the HALO. I think this will be the biggest mistake in history of racing. How to turn a formula car into a non-WEC.
I’m honestly considering not watching races, just because of this horrible, anti F! principle thing. I still have some hope they will realize it is a mistake and remove it soon before viewers eyes and minds become traumatized, and archives ruined forever with those HALO pictures. No more Prime documentaries with a Halo!.


I am really looking forward to this series. The title doesn’t quite seem to make sense to me, but the content and access sounds incredible. I still remember the old BBC documentary about McLaren covering the 1993 season. That was a key step in developing my love of all things related to F1. Hopefully this does the same for a new generation of fans… I will watch with my 10 year old son if it is no less family friendly than Amazon’s fairly good Le Mans series last year.


Yes, the Mclaren documentary points to the fact that when a partnership starts off on a uncompetitive note, chances are that the partnership is likely not to produce good results.

Case in point, Ron Dennis noted in 1988 winter testing that the team immediately realized after the first 3 laps of testing that the team had hit the jackpot.

Looking back, the team shouldn’t have split with Mercedes for this means the team would now have a Mercedes engine instead of a Renault one with questionable reliability

Yes in hindsight, it was a huge gamble by Mclaren to partner with Honda taking into fact the company wasn’t participating in the sport, in addition, the team’s own team struggled during the time they raced.

Overall, the morale of the documentary is decisions shouldn’t be made on nostalgia but rather we should be grateful for what we have


The thing about The Mercedes McLaren breakup was more to do with McLaren making road cars that compete with Mercedes.

I didn’t watch the Amazon thing because one I can’t and two even if I could I don’t think I could stand it.

Maybe just maybe things would have went better for Honda if Dennis didn’t require that size zero thing. That was a waste of time.

I hope Honda eventually gets it right. McLaren has no choice now. Even Renault is not the answer as factory teams will get the best engines off the dyno. Even if it’s just a couple of HP it matters but at least McLaren will have a chance at podiums.

It seems like another Mercedes Ferrari showdown for 2018 although only time will tell.


@ jdr…Could you please explain how you came to think that this so called ‘size zero’ concept was a Ron Dennis edict ? Has anyone from McLaren or Honda publically stated this to be a fact or is it simply another urban myth, something that if repeated enough times across diverse platforms that it becomes a truism’?.


@ jdr

Oh no, according to Ron Dennis, the breakup with Mercedes wasn’t to do with road cars competition but rather that a customer can never win the titles against a works team


Had to happen – as the AUTOCOURSE editor wrote in the recent 2017 edition “Alonso’s talents have been squandered over the last few years.” Even a driver of the bearded Spaniard’s ability cannot possibly make a deficit of 100 BHP from the motor behind his back, although it never stopped him trying!

Alonso’s motivation and focus despite the awful Honda situation never ceases to amaze me. In his mid 30s he has more money in his bank account than the GDP of most African, Caribbean and Latin American countries, could probably buy his own little island in the Med or Atlantic, just sit sunning himself on a beach every day reading a book………….but old Nando’s not like that, is he? The competitive animal still burns inside him, even approaching middle age when most drivers has lost their motivation and ultimate pace (like Kimi, Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa all did). He HAS to race, he HAS to compete – even if it’s only for 9th place like in UAE 2017. He would probably race and compete every weekend if he could. Even after 15 consecutive calendar years in Formula 1, he’s as fast, motivated and focused as he was as when he climbed aboard the 2003 Renault cockpit in Melbourne.

Alonso, still the ultimate warrior of motor sport. Look at his onboards of last season and witness absolute commitment and precision from grand prix racing’s modern day Maximus Decimus Meridius.


This “ultimate warrior” of yours got beaten by a rookie and mever really got over it., did he..


Lucky him, but Alonsos overall career says his team mates never have an easy time and he’s had the upper hand everytime but one time against Jenson Button. Yes, even 4-times champion Hamilton, who got really close and beat him on points as a team maze, was, if you take a closer look, a tad behind:


Despite all this Gaz Boy, the man is still regarded as a snake and untrusted by team mates or management. Is that a legacy you would be proud of? Clearly, it is if no concern to Alonso as he bumbles his way through Formula 1. I agree he is an exceptional driving talent but he’s still an a**.


Is this an excerpt from ALO autobiography?

If not, it should be the foreword to it.


Why do TV producers insisting on having sound effects and/or music drowning out the speech? I couldn’t understand most of what was being said. Therefore, it was rubbish!


Then on-event we’ll see more fan engagement, building on last year and there will be new media properties to help fans get closer to the teams.

That was Zak Brown 5 things for 2018. Interesting that his team’s first fan engagement in 2018 is behind a paywall

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