McLaren planning to #bebrave as new Renault powered F1 car runs for first time
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Feb 2018   |  5:47 pm GMT  |  176 comments

Of all the F1 teams going into this 2018 season, arguably the one with most curiosity around it is McLaren.

That’s because F1’s second most experienced team has dumped its Honda engine supplier for Renault and many pundits are asking whether that is enough to propel them into the fight with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes at the front.

Red Bull won three races last season with the Renault customer engine and many podiums so the target has to be that for McLaren this year, as they pride themselves on their chassis.

The team has used the hashtag #bebrave around this new car launch and first shakedown test today – they’ve clearly challenged themselves to live up to that. At all levels they have something to prove.

I could never understand how the technical chiefs at McLaren could have got to the launch and first shakedown of the 2017 car without realising that there were catastrophic problems with the Honda engine. Communication was clearly not good between Japan and the UK.

Incidentally this period is very well captured in the four part behind the scenes documentary series “Grand Prix Driver’, which is now available on Amazon Prime.

The wraps came off McLaren’s new 2018 car today, the MCL33 and it harks back to McLaren’s roots with a colour scheme of papaya orange with blue accent colours. It’s going to be hard to miss it on TV or from the grandstands.

Lead driver Fernando Alonso referred to it as ‘a very important car for McLaren’ and he’s not kidding. Fail with this car, after all the pain and upheaval of the divorce from Honda (not to mention the expense) and the management team of Zak Brown, Eric Boullier and Jonathan Neale will have some serious questions to answer to the long-suffering shareholders.

The trio has something to prove.

We will find out in the coming weeks whether its anywhere near to bridging the performance gap between the top three and the rest that was more of a gulf than a gap in reality.

Everyone is looking to McLaren and to the works Renault team for that and I’d expect them to be competing with Force India and Williams for fourth place this year.

The Italians have a wonderful word, “curatissima”, which means that it something is very highly studied, intricate, developed and that certainly applies to some of the detail work on the leading cars we have seen so far, including this McLaren.

That’s no surprise as Adrian Newey’s long time trusted lieutenant on aerodynamics Peter Prodromou is behind this car and he has something to prove, having decided to come out of his mentor’s shadow and take a leading role at McLaren just as they tanked with Honda.

He is very highly motivated to show that his work at McLaren can reach the heights of what was achieved at Red Bull during the quadruple title winning years.

As for the sponsors, there are some new names on the car, but no big names on the car in terms of the scale of new sponsorship. The nose features Alonso’s brand Kimoa, which is clearly something he negotiated into his new deal, perhaps accepting that as a contra for a lower salary in the post Honda subsidy era.

Alonso will be busy this season with his Le Mans and WEC series commitments with Toyota (that will go some way to boosting his income) and one would expect him to push to the limit every time he’s in the F1 car as he too has something to prove. He wants to win races and certainly to feature on the podium. Last year only one podium place was won by a driver outside the top three teams; Stroll’s in Baku. Alonso has regular podiums in mind for 2018.

His relationship with Renault will be vital – even if the faces in the Renault Sport leadership team are different from the ones he knew during his two stints with the team.

Stoffel Vandoorne also has something to prove. He fell short of the level he was aiming for last season, certainly for the first part of the year. His performances have to be judged on the basis that there were numerous times when Alonso was given a new part ahead of him, but still he knows he can – and must – do better.

So quite a few people with something to prove. In motorsport that together with strong resources is usually a winning combination. It will be interesting to see where McLaren ends up at season’s end.

What do you think? Can McLaren win or get podiums? Leave your comment in the section below

Featured Innovation
technical innovation from tata COMMUNICATIONS
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

#BEBRAVE …. to drive it with wheels falling off and Brown making decisions……

poor start so far no matter how they try to spin it.


I think we will see an epic battle between RedBull and McLaren. Equal engines, equal technical expertise in aerodynamics and I suspect also an equal philosophy (downforce first, straight line speed second) and similar possibilities in terms of the factories. Really this will be a battle between the aero folks lead by Newey and Prodromou. I do think, however, that Red Bull might have the edge because they have more experience with Renault and deeper pockets.


God I’m sick of this hashtag stuff. #whocares?

Looking forward to seeing a more competitive McLaren this year. I love their new livery.


I know it’s something ridiculous petty and insignificant but I really dislike that fact the halo on this Mclaren is black! Why couldn’t they make it orange or at least blue. Ruins the look of the car for me!


“How much more black could it be and the answer is none. None more black”. Nigel Tuffnel, Spinal Tap.


I think to make predictions is pointless before the first Grand Prix’s start. It is very interesting to look at McLaren with Renault in collaboration, but there are lots of factors that are independent from the MCL33. Take external circumstances: traffic on the racetrack, other races tracks, because we will go not only to Barcelona. Tests are just an attempt to understand what MCL33 can, just an attempt. Thank you very much for the article, well written.


theatre people do ” break a leg”, i guess mclaren does “bust a nut”.


“Be Brave” seems pretty spot-on at the moment….!

Is the wheel coming off a metaphor for the rest of the season?


Absolutely love the papaya orange, I never understood why Ron Dennis was so reluctant to play on history like that. Does anybody else dislike the flecks of blue though? It doesn’t seem to fit with the orange very well and makes the car look a tad like “backmarker” colours in my opinion.

Having said that, wasn’t it Ron Dennis that said the most beautiful car is the one that finishes first? Hoping for a serious McLaren revival this year.

As for the Amazon doc, I have seen episode 1 and it is sad as it feels similar to Ferrari when they lost Enzo. I’m not sure it was wise to eradicate Ron as brutally as that, but having said that I do feel like they have a structure in place now that will allow them to succeed.


So far I’d say the jury is out on post-Ron McLaren. It could go either wzy.


Is it just me or there is something weird with how comments are displayed? There was a threaded view where it was clear who is responding to what comment. Now it is hard to figure out what answers belong to what post. Is it like this by design? It was intended to be like this?


We haven’t changed anything


@ James…I beg to differ. The comments right here have no ‘reply’ box, effectively either gagging any ongoing response or it serves to acknowledge an ongoing variation to how the thread operates!


We have a problem with decomments plugin. It caused the issue last week which is now resolved re emails and is now not performing properly

We are looking into a swift solution



Well something seems to be very wrong James.


@ James Allen – Well, the comments system has definitely changed. Previously responses to a comment were indented directly below the original comment to form a thread. Now it seems they are posted in random order.


I hope for McLaren sake with the Renault power in their car now, they can a least beat Toro Rosso Honda team.If Honda does produce the goods and beat McLaren its not going look good.McLaren blame all the woes to Honda but they too should take some respondent too.Watching the Grand prix show I just got that felling their was poor communication between the two parties(McLaren/Honda)


If TR Honda were to beat McLaren i imagine that a big name or two would be shown the door at MTC! However TR have rookie drivers against the mighty Alonso and his sidekick but you never know!


Just watched the Grand Prix Driver series on Amazon Prime, well worth the free week of subscription 😄

Amazing to watch the slow motion train wreck of the McClaren-Honda partnership in 2017. I was astounded with what appeared to be the lack of culture and communication between UK & Japan. Never once saw a McClaren employee speaking Japanese, the Japanese only turned up with the boxed engine, and poor English. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a full time Japanese presence in the McClaren factory and a Japanese/English speaking McLaren team in Japan. Incredible how naive they all were. A team of £100millon pound budgets and just waiting for parts and engines to arrive like waiting for a birthday card from grandma. No sense of communication was observed from the documentary. I’ll bet RBR and TR have learnt that lesson.

Still having said that, I really feel for McClaren now and I like the people and drivers even more after that doco. I would never have thought myself really a team fan, really just an Aussie driver fan. But after DR…McClaren is the team I’m going for this year. I really hope they do well.


I’m sure there was communication. Eric Bullier would say something like “build us a better engine.” And Honda would reply “we’re trying”


The Amazon series on McLaren is quite interesting. I do wish they would have had more on the design of the car, not mostly the logistics of assembling the car. Many parts of the factory I think were not shown which is a pity. It did shown what a professional and big business the sport has become. Hope they do well this year.


Moderators, question please? I rarely feel moved to comment on anything – rarely feel I have much to add – but on the few occasions I have done so over the past year, my comments have not appeared. This was the case yesterday. Have I been blocked for some reason? I am not aware of having ever said anything which would attract such a block.


No not st all

We got this one and here it is


Should see new lap records at every track this year. Finally beat the times from 2004.


Same power, heavier car.

I doubt it.


Softer tyres so maybe.


About the same peak power and lighter, but significantly worse torque curve with grooved tires and less aerodynamic knowledge on newer tarmac (unless the track gets a new surface). Plus there is no refueling, so if a driver has enough fuel left, because of a safety car and has some new soft tires on, there’s a chance to break the lap record. In qualifying it’ll often be close though.


Mick, more power from new engines, another year of aero development on wider cars and softer tyres from pirelli, so probably.


Not so sure. Added weight of the halo, which also elevates the center of gravity, could work to stop faster laptimes.


It was fascinating in the Grand Prix Driver series to see the reactions when the engine wouldn’t start….priceless!

I also enjoyed the discussion featuring yourself and other journalists James about the whole debacle with the Honda engine and was wondering if you had any plans for something similar in future?

It could be like the Sunday Supplement on SkySports and I think F1 fans would enjoy respected journalists having a discussion about the big topics in F1.



No plans

I may do some video chats with Jon Noble, Piola etc on during the season


@ wayne

Oh no, no matter how good a power unit is, you still need a human to drive it hence guts will definitely play a role


What guts? Downhill skiers have guts, these guys are strapped into a high security carbon shell with a head and neck support, high security helmets, surrounded by protective foam and a titanium roll cage, driving on circuits with parking lot sized run-off-areas and high tech barriers in a car that can hardly roll over on their own, because they are super wide with a low center of gravity.

Compare that to people who throw themselves down an icy hill on two planks, going up to 100 mph, wearing nothing but Spandex, goggles and a light helmet and surrounded by lose net fences with sturdy trees behind.

The days when F1 drivers were modern heroes are long gone.


@ kenneth

Actually the long gap between wins is not a good sign because the longer it takes, the harder it becomes.

Also don’t forget Alonso will be 37 in 2018


@ Goferet…I would support your theory in general as it applies to a lot of drivers. however we are talking about Alonso here…….


It is nostalgic, that is for sure.

It would be great if it could glow during night races.

I don’t care for the blue and think black would look better.

I still think the Richard Mille livery would be a lot more striking, especially with this orange.


I’ve never thought of Boullier as a team leader. But the trio of Boullier, Brown & Neale are now on borrowed time. Screw things up this year and I think it’s all over for them.

Ron Dennis took all the blame conveniently for them but I wonder is he waiting in the wings biding his time, so that his legacy doesn’t get thrown away.

Alonso for me is on his last chance to get that third championship and I still believe his focus should be entirely on F1 this year. The amount of moaning he did last year says to me he still has a lot to prove. If he moans this year, get rid. There’s too much talent waiting for an F1 drive to put up with Alonso’s diva shenanigans!


I could never understand how the technical chiefs at McLaren could have got to the launch and first shakedown of the 2017 car without realising that there were catastrophic problems with the Honda engine. Communication was clearly not good between Japan and the UK.

If you remember how confused Honda were last year and how much they struggled at finding a workable solution (where solving one problem did not lead to a new issue arising) then you can say that they themselves were likely shocked at how badly their re-designed PU turned out in 2017 — especially in winter testing.

To add: their jibe at McLaren after the divorce was announced, where the Japanese manufacturer claimed the Woking based team was “not open to change”, was a testament to just how much Honda did not understand their direness of the situation.

(And exactly what “change” were they referring to? That Macca accept they will never become a championship winning team ever again, and have to “enjoy/appreciate” being a mid-field team at best for the rest of their days; the way Honda did in the mid-2000s???)

To put it, I would say McLaren-Honda 2.0 was similar to BMW-Williams in the 2000s– albeit much worse. If you remember, from 2001 – 2005 BMW was producing the most powerful V10s on the gird, but their partner (Williams F1 Team) were unable to capitalize on it due to ho-hum chassis design. And therefore the partnership was frustratingly never able to mount a convincing championship assault (except maybe 2003). Whenever BMW offered to lend their vehicle engineering expertise to the Grove outfit, they were consistently rebuked and angrily told to stick to their side of the bargain (engine). Sound familiar (Honda always refused McLaren’s help)? We all know how that ended.


I’ve had a brief chat once with a BMW guy who was involved in BMWs Formula-1 effort and it was rather shocking to hear from him, as a BMW guy, that “BMW came in like a typical OEM: Arrogant and full of themselves”. Granted, they had a good engine, but according to him they thought they’d knew better almost everywhere, while they didn’t seem to understand Williamses “skunk works” way of operation. And we all know how that turned out: They tried to buy Williams and Williams said “No”, so they bought Sauber to do it their own way and pulled the plug when it didn’t work out the way they thought it would. And who’s still there? Williams. And guess who managed to win a few Titles? Williams. And who never got to win a title? BMW.


Honda were referring to the McLaren size zero concept, where McLaren expected Honda to work within the space confines offered by the McLaren designers.

Had Honda been allowed to utilize the space required to fit their desired designs, & McLaren build the car around that size, the outcome may well have been vastly different.



What’s happening with the site??

First I get everybody’s posts, and now I’m not getting any! And I’ve had a few replies to my posts, but can only see them when I scroll through the whole comments section. Plus, it’s strange that some posts, you can’t even reply!


@james k and James A,

Same here. The absence of the red Reply button occurs from the 3rd level in the tree it would seem. I.e., reply to original post is possible, reply to such a reply is possible, but reply to a reply to a reply to a post is impossible.



Same here.


@james k…You are not alone.


Good looking car! I wondered why McLaren went with that dark orange colour last year – if they were harking back to their heritage surely papaya orange should have been the colour? As nice as the colour is I hope we will see less of it as time goes – i.e. hope they get some sponsors to fill in those wide open orange spaces.


Love this colour scheme. My favourite this season, it looks amazing on track.

So long as it’s all Orange and not a lemon, I think they can challenge the top 4 this season. Let’s hope they get some good mileage in Spain testing this year, I really want to see them in the mix and Alonso performing up the front where he deserves to be.


Good post. Which begs a question here that I have yet to see or read: What are the odds Alonso gets a win this year?


Anything below fourth with at least a few podiums will be a massive failure in my opinion. How can it be acceptable for a team like Mclaren with all their funding to be fighting with Force India when Red Bull-Renault are miles up the road?

Frankly if McLaren cannot compete with Red Bull, it will show that their designers and technical stuff are clearly not up to it.


McLaren fan or not, it’s in the best interest of F1 to have them back fighting at the front with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. Remember some seasons ago when the first 6 (?) races were all won by different teams? We need more of that.


This year could be similar. I don’t expect Merc to dominate, I do expect Ferrari, Red Bull, and McLaren to get plenty of wins this season. Maybe even Renault could get a win.


I think the last few years McLaren have operated with an arrogance about them last seen with Fernandes at Team Lotus/Caterham. A sort of “We are McLaren Honda from the 1980s and we are great” forgetting that there is also work to be done.

Not much of a McLaren fan but i cant wait to see Alonso take this by the scruff of the neck


Think it looks good…why couldn’t they get rid of some of that space on the engine cover!?


🔵 Lol! what were they thinking?!


Looks like a race winner. Alonso will ensure that car wins races this year, and Vandoorne will start looking like a top F1 driver.


I don’t think this is anywhere near the Melbourne spec car. I think this is mostly last year’s car with a few extra bits for a shakedown, with a fairly large package of parts expected for the Barcelona test days. Mclaren have been quick to say the switch to Renault hasn’t put them behind, but with the experience of Honda ruining their testing last season (not to mention having done more laps in this launch filming day than all of 2017 preseason testing!) I think they’ve been super cautious.

It’s not sporting a halo winglet, yet Mclaren were the first to try one out at the tail end of last season. There’s more to come from Woking, and that excites me.

That said, I think the real outside bet this season are Sauber. I think they’ll be fighting with Mclaren, Force India and Williams for 4th in the constructors. LeClerc, if he lives up to his potential, and the car hangs together… well, we could be in for a blast of a season. We could see Mclaren settling for (but improving to) 5th in the championship.


I agree, and they have said they will have a big aero package for Melbourne. From what they have said it does look like they are aiming to clock up big mileage in testing, much like Mercedes seem to do.


I certainly hope McLaren achieve 4th or better in the Constructors but I’m cautious. It may take another year for my favorite team to be frequently fighting for podiums, and for me the frustrations have been constant since the end of 2012. I’m not switching my loyalty though.

I’m expecting a better season than 2017, with McLaren, Renault and Force India closer to the front. Force India may crack under pressure.

Since the halo isn’t going away McLaren might as well paint it blue like the wings.


Love all the bits in Papaya Orange and Blue, which are real McLaren colours to me (I must be a lot older than Andrew Halliday – of course, those even older than me would say the original McLaren colour is red). One of the interesting things about this colour scheme is that they have left in black all the bits that make Formula 1 cars so bloody awful to look at these days – the multi-element wings, splitters, bargeboards, the halo and god knows what else. Take those off and you might have cars that look better, cost less and can actually follow each other. I make an honourable exception for the wheels and tyres (although it has to be said that those high-profile tyres look so antiquated). And yes, I know three of the silly front wing elements are blue, but cut me some poetic licence here, OK?


Honestly, I’m a bit worried. I see signs of Newey designs – not the good ones. While beautifully sculpted, I fear with such small sidepods and rollhop inlets, the car will over heat.

I’ve long held the opinion, mclaren is as much to blame for honda’s failure. There idiot size zero concept was ill conceived and ultimately failed. I see signs of the same occurring. Pray I’m wrong.

On the other hand, the papaya/blue combo is nice. Their bargeboard floor remains very distinct. High rake and floor driven downforce, while effective usually produces draggy – power sapping cars.

Of the three renault cars, this will be 2nd, behind RBR. Still waiting for renault to drop their 2018 challenger, not a halo wearing rs17.


Who really instigated the ‘size zero’ nonsense? Ron Dennis may have seized on it as a smart marketing vox pop, but I have not seen, nor can I find one shred of evidence that McLaren initiated it. Ok, I haven’t seen the Amazon program you’re all talking about and there may be some clues in there, but I’m not blindly accepting that a chassis designer told an engine designer “it’s got to fit in there, period”. I would say this was more of a case of Honda trying to reinvent the wheel and getting it wrong. I think McLaren (wrongly in hindsight) seized on this idea and Ron neatly rolled it out, but I need more convincing that McLaren initiated it. This is only important because of reputation & historical accuracy.


I am not sure where Renault stand in the pecking order but they must be under pressure not to be the slowest team using their own PU. If they were to finish behind McLaren in third then someone’s head may have to roll. One way or another Renault need to beat McLaren this year. I wonder who will have the worst luck with reliability of the three teams.


I think Renault will be behind the McLaren and Red Bull this year. As long as they are next then Renault should be satisfied. Next year I expect them to challenge those two.


Honda abandoned the size-zero concept in 2017, and went for the more conventional (Mercedes) design. Hence when there was talk of McLaren switching back to Merc power before Melbourne last year, people were saying that they should have no problem haphazardly sticking the German PU; since Honda imitated it.

I wouldn’t be so fast to say that McLaren’s chassis in the past 3-years were duds. The team was consistently competitive in tight layout and/or aero-reliant (Catalunya 2017) circuits. So that must mean their chassis had a strong base and was generally good to work with.

Although having said that, I wouldn’t be as surprised if this year McLaren realize they have actually been under developing their chassis. Not for lack of trying/incompetence, but rather because of having been so slow (underpowered) for so long they may have lost sight of what above average performance gains are; and this whole time have been unwittingly gunning for small/below average performance gains.


I’d agree about McLaren being as much to blame…

Many at McLaren state they had the best chassis and were being held back by the engine.

That’s the public voice, similar to days of yore when the small teams ran with minimal fuel and underweight cars in winter testing so as to attract sponsorship.

When Alonso took Pouhon flat, everybody claimed how amazing that chassis was forgetting that the Honda supposedly was 80-100bhp down… who’s to say that the car wouldn’t have been a pig with the extra grunt. Their 2014 car wasn’t exactly beating Mercedes…. or Williams, despite using the same engine.

In addition I have also heard/read that it wasn’t only Honda contributing to the slow straight line speeds because many times McLaren would run in full downforce mode to attempt to gain advantage through different sections.

As to the Renault PU? They may have won three times but once was extreme fortune at Baku as evidenced by Stroll’s third place! Once was in Malaysia when Max passed Lewis and strolled away. Problem is Ferrari shot themselves in the foot during that period with Vettel starting from the back and Kimi not making it to the start. In effect that leaves Mexico as the only Renault win…

Finally, despite wanting to see Alonso in his rightful place, I really don’t want Brown garnering the praise for a turn around.


Brown is a putz, no business running an F1 team, just like other Americans Liberty having no understanding of F1,with Boullier a close second muttering nasal sounds out the side of his mouth ala Henri Pescarolo


Why not? What have you got against Brown? McLaren thank you for your conditional support.


Well if you take 2018 as the evolution of 2017 season, then we are up for two most applealing fights this year.

#1: Battle of the engines – Mercedes vs Ferrari. As the engine rules haven’t changed much I’d give 60-40 in Mercs favour.

#2: Battle of the chassis – RBR vs McLaren. I’d give 60-40 in RB’s favour based on the past 5 years performance and driver pairing.

I’m regards to the McLaren 2018 chassis, it will come down to their reliability and development of the car to give their drivers the best opportunity to beat RB. I’m personally looking forward to Vandroon’s performance this year the most. He is part of the future generations of race winners in my view. We have all seen what Alo can do. This time I wanna see what Van can do next to Alonso in more reliable and better engine (considering Renault has made good step forward). So, the tests will be fascinating to watch.


James, with all due respect, i must bring it to your notice that, your video contributions are not up to the mark. How about doing some video/graphical analysis? Some of that Youtube money doesn’t hurt isn’t it? Your channel on Youtube has 3000 odd subscribers, and you have a lot more potential than that.


3,000 YouTube subs? That wouldn’t buy a Mars Bar, and how do you know the subscribers are “odd”?


I’ve been reading this site basically every day since the tumultuous days of the post-2008 ITV dump/BBC acquisition of the F1 commercial rights. A time which was way, way back when “My Top Ten Tracks” was a recent post. And I, as a genuine fan of his work, had no idea James had a YouTube channel.


Ditto – and I have been a fan for 40 years plus


I know – Fernando Alonso’s facial fuzz is horrible…………….

Putting aside the flippancy, I’ve never worked out why Tangerine Orange was the National Racing colour of New Zealand. Did Bruce and Denny Hulme have an citrus plantation in Wellington, or did they have Dutch ancestry that none of us are aware of? I would have thought Black with a white fern would have been more appropriate for the Kiwi’s………..

I understand why Italy has red, because it’s historically a country with communist sympathies (see the Roman Empire, Red Brigades and FIAT signing a deal with the Soviet Union and Chinese), British Racing Green is of course associated with William Blake’s “Green and Pleasant Land”, but New Zealand and orange???


Living in Auckland as I do I too am mystified by Kiwi Orange….that said I am happy to see the link with Bruce McLaren.

4th for McLaren this year IMO provided they start well.


@gaz boy

Hellos right. British racing green was originally shamrock green.

Something about a race in Ireland in 1903, because motor racing was illegal in GB at that point in time. So the British team painted their cars green to honor the host nation. And the rest is history.


It’s the “heritage” colour of the McLaren Can-Am team of the 1960’s & ‘70’s. Nowt much to do with F1, and I just think Kiwi motorsports (of which there are many and quite vociferous) enthusiasts kind of adopted it.


Bruce McLaren wasn’t representing New Zealand. He was representing himself, & wanted his cars to stand out in a crowd.

Bruce had seen Sky blue, Mid Blue, Silver, Red, Green, Black, & White, so Orange it was.

Long live the brothers from across the ditch.


“is of course associated with William Blake’s “Green and Pleasant Land”

Has it not got something to do with Ireland?


Hi Gazboy,

Bruce didn’t mind the odd Bowen Mango* from what I have heard, which incidentally would have been another great colour scheme/livery! A little sweeter than Papaya and Tangerine!

*No I cannot source this or provide a link! 🙂


You’re not a fan of Sunny D then TimW 😄 ?


Fair point TimW 👍


Bkflamer, orange and blue? Very nineties! Should have just painted the whole thing one colour.


So its Alonso+Vandoorne vs Perez+Ocon this year. Can’t wait for it.


No sir, it will be Sainz + Hulkenberg vs Perez + Ocon Mc’Laren duo will be fighting with RBR duo….. By the when i wached this car the first thing came in my mind was, it wont be the same car they are standing at australian gp I am pretty sure James you know that its like Renault engine fited on their 2017 car with a new colour scheme. Look at its back Peter Prodromou is not that bad who will design such a bulky car from the back they are hiding new car m pretty sure


Is it me or do Fernando’s pods look like they need a shave..?

…on reflection maybe that’s not the best thing to say in public!


They learnt a lesson by not using the spectre meeting room for the launch this time.


I like it.

I like the colour, and I like the lines.

Hard not to notice the high, sculpted sidepod shape.

I don’t know why I like it so much more than the Ferrari.

Mc will have their hands full with Red Bull, which could be the lead challenger to Merc, earlier than the past two years.

In the end, the only thing that matters is the one (car) that passes the line first in Melbourne.


Now this is more like it! Still loathe the halo but that aside, this is the best looking car so far for me, especially the colour. I really hope that McLaren make up some ground this year and whether you’re a fan or not, Alonso is one of F1s great personalities and drivers and with that, needs to be at the sharp end of the grid. We’ll miss him when he’s done with F1, that’s for sure!

Tornillo Amarillo

Ugliest car on the grid…

Last year they finished P9 in WCC, so for this year 2018 to get P5 should be a big improvement, although not enough: 1 win and some podiums should be in the target to not call it a failure.

What they are not allowed is to complain about the Renault PU, for now, if something goes wrong during the campaign. Renault sure won’t want to hear any more complains about it!


Have to agree with you unfortunately. Having said that, you never know what we are going to see in testing. It will be great to have McLaren in top 3 for the good of F1.


I am so skeptical of that Renault PU. Red Bull was able to get more out of the engine last year than Renault’s own team got. I put that down to RBR having the better aero package. I think in terms of reliability, both Red Bull and Renault were about equal. I’m not sure where McLaren is going to fall in the mix, but there is potential of fighting for podiums if the PU and aero development improves.


There has been a lot of negative talk on this forum, of people giving up the sport in the recent days over issues like the Halo, the Grid Boys, etc. It has been a bit surprising especially since this season, I see much to look forward to…. Can Vettel bounce back from a horrible year, will Bottas and Kimi do anything to deserve their drives, will Ric challenge Verstappen, will the McLaren be competitive and will Alonso be on the podium, will Renault make a jump from the midfield, will Alfa Romeo/Haas challenge FI, and is there a ray of hope for Williams or for Honda…

The Grand Prix driver Series is a must watch, and probably the way forward for Liberty, with the insider insights, unrestricted access and especially as it shows a very gloomy situation from a positive point of view.

Two incidents in the series stand out for me. One where Stoffel talks about feeling the car is falling over at the rear and Tom Stallard says that when you look at the data you see that it has rolled by an extra 0.1 degrees and and you think “Oh that can’t be what he is feeling. But it is” and shows the level of sensitivity of the drivers. We have seen a lot of comments on how babies and grandmothers can drive these modern F1 cars, but not enough on the skills that these drivers do display.

The Second is where a mechanic is lining the fuel tank bay with gold and he talks about it being £1600 for a thin roll, and his enthusiasm for using and building the best shines through. I remember as a kid when the McLaren F1 had come with a gold-lined engine bay and how many years its poster hung on my wall. The complicated V6 /PU is amazing engineering, even if it is designed for a different world that doesn’t make it any less marvelous, so there is no need to constantly groan about it, and the F1 cars are still by far the best out there.

Also James, it was nice to see you in the Journalists’ Dinner, just after Barcelona,2017 and you sounded almost certain that Alonso would not be racing in a McLaren Honda come 2018.

The amount of data Formula One generates is stunning and as a Sport it is uniquely suited to being adopted by the younger generation. If James, you ever decide to go back to commentary I’ll be the first to sign on, because it is always refreshing to hear someone who is always enthusiastic about the sport and wants it to do better, and if you decide to join Liberty as a “Fan engagement” advisor, you have my vote.


I am one of negatory talkers. I will not watch F1 again, and only browsing here until Melbourne when Mercedes and Hamilton begin another boring year crushing the opposition whilst Toto mouths about fearing the competition.

I have been an avid follower of F1 for 35 years but I am done. Liberty and HALO are the straw that broke this camel’s back. I am American but I despise Liberty’s antics, they will ruin this once-great sport. The FIA with its PU rules (fuel flow, turbos, no refueling, engine grid penalties and now the HALO) , is dead set on destroying what was once an exciting Motorsport. The FIA and Pirelli have no clue how to build tires from one year to the next. They talk about controlling costs, yet they allow the obscene spending on insanely complex and expensive front wings that destroy a car’s ability to follow closely and overtake without a ridiculous DRS. I have read former drivers and fans screaming for simple normally aspirated high revving engines, and a return to simple dual-plane wings to lessen the dependence on aero and greater dependence on mechanical grip, but no-one in positions of authority cares, no-one in any position of authority wants great racing.

I am tired of waiting for F1 to be great (again) and just like I despise Trump and all the Nazis in power in the US, I despise the FIA, Liberty, and especially Michael Buffer.

I am done and I honestly hope F1 fails. No one has the common sense to save it.

I am off to watch MotoGP, sportscars, IndyCar and Aussie V8


Can Vettel bounce back from a horrible year

Did we watch a different championship ? As far as i know Vettel finished the championship in p2, fighting against those mercs (that won 12 races) wich were a lot better than the ferraris.


The truly great are held to a higher standard.

Vettel drove well, had the weaker car and did well to challenge and finish second despite the reliability issues. However he made crucial mistakes, the poor show in Baku and then the ‘driver misjudgement’ in Singapore should not have happened.

From my perspective, I thought Hamilton had a “similarly” horrible year in 2016, even though he also finished second in the championship, when he made similar “driver errors” at key moments, even though he was greatly hampered by reliability just like Vettel last year.

Hamilton bounced back strongly in 2017 and I am looking forward to seeing something similar from Vettel next year.


Nice one Ashish !

Let’s accept halo as it is and focus on the racing.

The Grand Prix Driver was a treat, I watched all the episodes in one go…


Yes, there is no denying it is ugly, and nobody who has seen an F1 car without a halo is going to find one with a halo attractive.

But let’s enjoy 2018 and the joys it will bring.


Let’s accept halo as it is and focus on the racing

Amen to that.


Brilliant post, well said……


I am hoping mclaren gets back to winning ways…honda years were clearly a disaster but now with renault engine, there’s nowhere to hide…mclaren didn’t really do much with the merc engine either in 14…so it will be interesting to see how much blame lies with their chassis,…they have been a frustrating team even when they were winning in 2000s, prone to producing bad cars…well lets see what happens this year


@ Tarun….McLaren will be faced with the same problems as all the other Renault runners…reliability. Last season Ricciardo suffered 75 grid place drops, the most outside the Honda duo so all the Renault runners will be faced with a certain anxiety regarding their Renault engines again in 2018.


@ Redline…As your post has no ‘reply’ box/button i will have to respond via my own post!!!! Horner has just stated his concern publically…that Renault have sacrificed performance to gain reliability and that has yet to be proven. That said, i too share the same concern. Some many months ago i posted my own concerns insofar as to safely impose reliability would normally require greater integrity of certain parts and that could lead to increases in weight and or redesign. Either way there would be a disadvantage to the end user. Of course greater integrity could lead to increased performance but that has as yet to be tested. As it is very very early days i am not convinced that the Renault runners are out of the woods. The first engine will have to last seven races. Championships can be won or lost at any stage and early wins are very very important as it causes others to become totally apprehensive about where to make any gains, especially when nothing can be done vis a vis the engine for the first third of the season!!! Interesting times ahead.


@Kenneth – beyond the reliability concerns*, McLaren may also discover that their chassis is not the rocketship they claimed it to be, whilst “hiding” behind the failings of Honda. I don’t see the performance of PU and chassis being summative. Having a competitive PU may well highlight previously unknown chassis weaknesses. No doubt they will make a significant step forwards, but the last few % of performance will always be much harder to find, and that will be purely down to McL.

* As I understand Abiteboul’s comments, the Renault PU is being developed primarily for reliability at the expense of performance. That said, there is no hiding, as you expect at least RB and McL to have the same spec units.


This has been my team since 76. Good and bad , ups and downs so I will not make unsubstantiated claims about the 2018 season. Just say I live in hope.


Perfect that’s how it should be. Until the first results are on board, all other predictions are as good as a $1 in a slot machine.


@ Formula Z…hahahah I once cracked a decent jackpot in Los Vegas with the first dollar i put in!!! Guess what..i never put any further dollars in for the rest of my stay and left a winner. That’s the way to stay ahead.


Digging the papaya orange blue. It would be nice if some of that paint was obscured by more sponsors.


After reading articles and comments on JAOnF1 for a while, I’ve decided to join in every once in a while 😀

Looking at the car, the size of the sidepods really stuck out to me. Far smaller than anything any other team are running, and along with the myriad of turning vanes on top, I’m curious to see what McLaren has to offer this year.

I know some people don’t like the livery so much, but I find its simplicity rather refreshing and stunning.


I, for one, share your sense of the livery. I love it. Then again, I remember the Bruce & Denny show….


I noticed the crazy small sidepods.

James I wander how well the engine system will cope with high stress high heat circuits. Will we see McLaren having to cut holes to cool key parts


Yeah agreed, that is a classic Newey approach, so his Protégé clearly has gone the same way to make the package as small and compact as possible to optimize the aero to the extreme. Then when firing it up and going warm, then we will see how many holes they will need to cut out to keep it cool. ;o)


Thanks for the comment!


Just curious, James — which comment does your note above reference ? Thanks for all you and your staff do to share information.


Thanks for the reply James!

Just wondering if you think the SF71H might actually end up being more of a “diva” than the W09 this year, as it seems to be far more complex than the SF70H. I know this generally equates to a step up in performance, but could it also mean greater sensitivity and therefore a smaller operating window?


Am I missing something? I don’t see a Renault sticker? What’s that about?


It’s probaby been prostituted out to “Infiniti” or something 😉😄. Renault doesn’t seem to have much pride in its brand. It gets around with the factory team car with “Infiniti” and allows RBR to call theirs Tag.

I guess I’d be embarrassed too with their level of reliability since 2014, masked only by Honda who have received all the headlines.


Its on the back, on the engine cover.


I hope and pray the aero team has done a better job than the marketing/livery team. Like the throwback to papaya orange but it looks painted by a school

Kid in one shade – compare tothe the tonal grades in colour of silver and metallic blue on the Mercedes.


I don’t care for the livery either: but my first reaction on seeing this was not the livery or even the halo, but that abominable front wing. This is not unique to McLaren but these things have got to be reined in; not only for the negative effect they have on the racing but now also for the aesthetics. They are ugly and they dominate the whole front appearance of the cars.


Great color.

Hope it is not “International Distress Signal Orange.”


They are prepped for another Monaco GP harbor event? ;o)


Now that we’re seeing the perspective of the field with launches, only time will tell what the “new” approaches are going to produce. Not sure why so many folks are so concerned about the appearance of the “halo” when all of the other bits and pieces of “aero” are certainly not esthetically appearing, either. Not to mention the ability to transfer those principles to everyday vehicles. . .

Hopefully the ability to follow will have been improved and the only significant differences in performance will not be from tire wear and pit stop efficiency. More to come.


I don’t care if these things don’t transfer to everyday vehicles. F1 should be about maximum attack, and wrestling the damned things around the track. That’s where it went wrong with the PUs.


Are we fed up with these hashtags already? Can the pound have the # back?


Is that like #NeverForget? Or #BringBackOurGirls? Or #VegasStrong?

These all mean as much as #F1HaloSucks #F1PUsDontSaveFuel #F1BringBackV10s

Nothing basically. I can write them as much as we want, nothing comes out of it.

And why does McLaren need to be brave? Because they don’t have a title sponsor? Because they have to put up with Alonso for another year? Because they are rescuing puppies from a burning building?

moscow square news service

Sebee, you angry Amerikanski, eh ? All will be korosho when our mole in White House fully activated. Our undercover trump card sports orange wig. Mission to make Alaska border wall like swiss cheese to give Red army back door access to Silicon Valley. We make real news great again and free Wodka for everyone ! Spaciba

Tornillo Amarillo

I think Norris is coming soon. Is this Alonso last year in F1?

Sorry but my #FreeSainz has worked 🙂


I saw some site list 2018 standings and Alonso was #1 for drivers and Ferrari #1 for teams. I laughed…it’s alphabetical sort at this point.


oh….I’m slow sometimes.

#BeBrave is a message for the drivers to be brave driving these dangerous halo equipped cars. Got it.


That’s right Sebee – Just like Mercedes, the trick is to get in early so that your rival has no chance 😉

Side note: This kind of banter doesn’t work nearly as well without direct replies, does it? 😐


Random, you want to play tic tac toe? An unwinnable game? …like F1 against Mercedes in PU era.


McLaren is not too shabby without the halo (PU aside that is)


#bebrave…another stupid and meaningless addition to communications. Ugh !




Ans you should well know Sebee there’s one good use for a # – Your move…


Indeed, Mclaren’s performance in 2018 will be of great interest to the fans because it’s the team expected to make the biggest improvement from 2017

Having said that, the signs look good that Mclaren have produced a competitive car as shown by Alonso optimism and happiness after the team’s shake down

So yes, I think Mclaren can fight for podiums at certain tracks however, I am not sure I the team can fight for wins because it’s been a long time since Alonso last won and Stoffel has no experience in this field

Talking about the team’s lively, I think the orange and blue don’t match together so I would have preferred orange and black

Regards Mclaren’s hastag be brave, I guess this is an indicator that the fight for podiums will be so intense thereby the glory will only be achieved by those with the biggest guts.


Or those whose power units have the most guts!


@ Goferet….Despite the long time between wins for Alonso, give him a sniff and he’ll be in there like the proverbial snake up a drainpipe.


Nice clean car. Still love McLaren design from 2003-2006 much more.


Being a newcomer to the Renault engine, it will take McLaren at least half the season if not a full season to optimize the cooling and driveability so don’t expect them to be challenging Redbull immediately.


@ W Johnson…So you think that all the highly experienced people who work for McLaren aren’t aware of what those cooling demands are and that all the mountains of relevant data collected by Renault over the past four years and made available to McLaren will be negated because this is the first time for them to run a Renault?


@ W Johnson….Obviously you are not keeping up. The comments coming from McLaren/Boullier et al are that the installation, although late, went like clockwork with both teams having embedded staff at both Enstone and Viry which benefited all concerned. Of course there is the need for extensive follow up, that’s normal but to suggest otherwise is to seriously underestimate the technical excellence of the relative people involved…so ‘yeah right’!


@ Kenneth,

So McLaren are expected nail it from the off packaging a completely different engine. Yeah right. It is just a simple question of punching a few numbers into a computer and hey presto. F1 is so easy isn’t it when you have all that data. No need for tracking whatsoever. Yeah right!


If Red Bull got a Mercedes engine, would they also require half a season to challenge the works team?


Short and right answer to that is: No!


So that’s where my BIC razor went


@ Michael G…Occam stole it.


Subliminal message they are sending to Alonso…..over to you Gazboy! 😉


Why does the pole not include first or second place?

If that doesn’t tell the powers that be what’s wrong with F1 then I don’t know what will.

Now then,to the car…….it looks terrible because of the halo.

If the halo wasn’t on it then it would look awesome. Simples.

The only time the halo will look good is when a Australian is throwing it boomerang like towards the FIA motor home.



It says “top 3”.


@ F1canmaker…the only problem with you analogy is that to be ‘boomerang like’ it will return to original sender!!! Nothing gained. Sorry pal.


If only we could have a four-way battle for the title. We’ve got the talent well spread out, but the cars are not on the same level. I read on a forum that the Renault engine is producing 950 bhp, I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but I expect Mercedes and Ferrari to be edging close to 1000 bhp.

James, would you be able to give a breakdown of the bhp each engine is producing?


looks like the fia is going to clamp down on benz using unique and advantageous engine modes. great move by the fia.


I don’t think he can without any lap time. If you see the recent comments from Dr Marko, it suggests Renault will still be well behind the Mercs. He also suggested that he doesn’t know how good it is. So, I’d say all the teams are on the same boat.


I’m first ? Woo hoo. Wish they had some of the blue accent on the Halo device as well. Sponsorship looks a bit bare, but success on track will address that. Here’s hoping for regular podiums !

Tornillo Amarillo

No, you are 37, it’s how it works.

Have we suffered an attack from Rusian hackers?

Tornillo Amarillo

And now 100… this is changing as we speak…

moscow square news service

37 ? Fake News Alarm ! He is number 68 you bolschewik.


At first I wasn’t too keen on the orange (sorry, papaya!) livery but I’m growing to like it, especially with the purple bits on the wings. It just might look ok on track. Although it’s a ‘traditional McLaren colour,’ I’m not sure how much it feels like McLaren to me. For me, the West colour scheme from the late 90’s-early 2000’s is the one that comes to mind when I think of McLaren.

With most of the cars and liveries now launched, I think the Renault is my favourite in terms of livery. I do hope that McLaren do well this year as there’s something special about seeing Alonso reunited with Renault power. The question is, can he relive his glory years of 2005 and 2006….


Looks like a proper McLaren. The field is going to look a lot better (halo aside) with the simple liveries of McLaren, Ferrari, Merc, Sauber, etc.


If Fernando Alonso wins a race this year I think he will shave off his beard. It’s been a long time coming (getting the razors out, not the win).

That’s a point, the (currently) Bearded Spaniard hasn’t won since May 2013, and TAG McLaren haven’t been victorious since November 2012. For both constructor and driver, the last few years truly have been their “Moses wandering the wilderness” era.

Amazingly, this year, Alonso will be racing no less than four consecutive weekends starting with Le Mans in mid June and finishing off with Silverstone in mid July…………..but then, that’s Alonso for you – the ultimate competitor. He would race EVERY weekend if he could, and you can bet until the very last lap of Silverstone he will give his absolute all for those 4 weekends because that’s the only way he knows how to drive – his absolute hardest. A ferocious competitive animal – and the only driver Lewis Hamilton knows is his equal. Not better – but as good.

Formula 1, Indycars, Le Mans, rallying, touring cars, Tractor racing, Combine Harvester racing…………….Alonso will race anything and any where, just for the hell of it. The ultimate racer.


5 consecutive weekends Gaz … he’s in Montreal the week before LeMans.


Jaysus KRB, you’re right! It makes me wonder: is Alonso actually human? Or is he The Terminator reincarnated as a hirsute Spaniard?

Where does he get this unrelenting energy and motivation from? Most human beings who would have driven just one weekend in a McHonda would have sunk into a valley of despair – and Alonso’s had three years of that!


Raikkonen is still the ultimate F1 champ in several of those other motor racing classes that you list there! ;o)


Same comment about Alonso repeated time and again. Getting a bit boring….


James that made me laugh out loud

“Give us a list of Posters”

I expected the sound of a leather glove hitting a table and a 1970s Reel to Reel recording in the background in a cig smoke filled room.The cold war has started again comrade 😄 Soon they’ll be “🗣A Dob your Mates In👉 i” banner on JAF1 ( affiliated to iSpy). 😄


Can’t reply directly to you Kenneth as no option available.

It’s annoying and offputting to read entire threads when they’re hijacked by inane posts in many cases. It destroys both the flow, and the useful debate as it prompts other people to join in with the inane stuff. Not just a simple case of ignoring posts, as it’s difficult to follow the real debate if you do this. There are a small handful of posters who have keyboard diarrhoea and just don’t know when to stop. It becomes a little private club of a few posters bantering backwards and forwards and puts other people off reading.

I agree and disagree with some of what you personally write, but I am interested in your debate. A select few others either repeat the same guff in every other post, go off at tangents, or just plain write guff with no thought to what it’s adding. Wish mods would remove some posts and write to the poster to explain why, that would probably fix the issue in a few weeks. However, it’s a free site, and these things cost money.

It’s going to be a nightmare when the season starts, and Vettel and Hamilton do battle again. Back to the mundriver has bigger gonads than yours arguement again. 😬


Give us a list of the posters you are speaking about


@ PaulD…then exercise your democratic freedom to ignore posts that are on no interest to you. Simple solution, no?


👏👏Welcome back Mclaren👏👏

Papaya Orange’ish looks great.😎

All the Best to Mclaren and smooth runnings.

Really excited by the cars look and well wow

the colour and streaks of dark blue make the Orange look brighter.

The car sounds better than that Honda.

Toro Rosso will have their hands full trying to fend off the media when the engine penalities start to bite.

I hope the new engine gives the Mclaren a better presence on track, and gives it the ability fight on track.


For sure sticking with the Honda engine would have been brave. Its not brave to take the safe path for Mr Alonso man.
And Honda , leave them alone they might just get it right. Torro Rosso are brave. For sure the McLaren car looks like a mango. A bowl of fruit!!!


@ BKF…at least there will be absolutely no problems in identifying those cars when in the pack. Whilst never having been a McLaren follower i do hope that they can challenge at the sharp end from time to time just to prove a point. That is, that Honda should never have been in the frame when they had no idea of how to produce a competitive engine. Surely there needs to be a certain standard of proof needed before engine suppliers are given the green light to become fully fledged suppliers. Teams and drivers reputations are trashed by the failure of engines. Yes, of course engines will fail from time to time. That is a mechanical given, but to suffer so many times like Renault and Honda is a black mark on the sport.


did you write that?

we’re you not one of those who blindly argued with me about honda and mclaren rediscovering their former glory when i said honda had no hope as there isn’t evidence of their success apart from when they enjoyed that variable valve timing advantage?

you can now enjoy your humble pie.


@ BKF….I cannot directly reply to your comment as it is not open to respond to!!! Something has happened to the site and it doesn’t seem to be being fixed. This has gone on now for quite some time.


Kenneth 100% agree. There should be a proper due diligence done on engine manufacturers before they enter F1. If they are failing then radical measures should be implemented. Dismissal being the first resort and not the last. Honda were out of their depth and giving every excuse under the Sun.

Engines should be ready from the get go and not be a hit or miss affair every season.

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!