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F1: McLaren-Honda Will Score Points In Europe

Ron-Dennis-001The Spanish Grand Prix is just around the corner ending the first ‘fly away’ segment of the 2015 season, although, the F1 train doesn’t end here having 14 stops yet to make. The European stretch of the season can be a turning point for many of the teams. The advantage of the European races is simple: Logistics. The teams can more rapidly employ changes, whether aero additions or power-plant component changes as the proximity to their headquarters makes it more efficient. Here, McLaren-Honda will score points.

Each European stop can make or break a currently struggling team such as McLaren, who joined with Honda this year. McLaren-Honda, to date, is not on the same train, in fact, not on the same tracks as the top teams. With Jenson Button, scoring a DNS for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Statements made by McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier state otherwise.

“We should be judged on how fast we are recovering,” says Boullier. “From Barcelona onwards, there will be performance enhancements regularly.” Having paid attention to McLaren, you know that reliability and integration with ERS is the main issue. To the casual fan, it seems as though McLaren’s Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have spent more laps in the garage than on the hairpins.

This is enough to frustrate any Formula 1 driver. But if you understand where the team has improved from testing, to where McLaren is today, you would see a colossal leap forward that has led me to believe McLaren will score their first points in the European slice of the season.

McLaren is currently taking advantage of the break before the Spanish Grand Prix. The team is diligently working to find answers. Unfortunately, the answers to their questions are going to be found when the car hits the track. The upside of the McLaren-Honda marriage has been the result Fernando Alonso had in the Bahrain Grand Prix finishing 11th, just shy of points.

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

The team’s confidence and progress rivals that of Mercedes AMG Petronas last season. Ron Dennis, head of McLaren, said today: “Mark my words! We’ll win together and, when we do so we’ll do so dominantly. He added, “I don’t want to put a timeframe on that prediction, because that would be foolhardy.

But whenever I walk around the McLaren Technology Centre, speaking as I do to our people at the sharp end what I encounter is fierce determination, burning ambition, unshakable confidence and unbreakable esprit. That makes me very proud. We’re pulling together, all of us, and we know we’ll get there.”

Confidence is no doubt what McLaren has shown the most, along with motivation. Practice should no longer have a toll on the weekend’s achievements. Having Alonso, whom even Lewis Hamilton described as one of the sports all-time greatest drivers, has McLaren looking past Barcelona to Monaco for a positive outcome.

The team is fully aware that Monaco is a driver’s circuit. Power cannot outweigh handling in Monte Carlo. McLaren’s chances of scoring points in Monaco may be their best bet of the season. So, what is the team doing to advance its performance for the rest of the season?

The differences in the current F1 power-plants.
The differences in the current F1 power-plants.

As of now, a host of upgrades are being applied to the MP4-30 . Engines are being tested, but time is of the essence. The race in Barcelona is less than two weeks into May. While fans are agonizing over the wait, McLaren is dauntless in pursuing results to satisfy them in Spain. But it’s complex.

Honda took a turn no other manufacturer would dare to attack. The unit Honda has produced is more complex than the current Mercedes model. Like other power plants, the turbocharger fights for space, but what makes Honda’s unit so unique is using an axial flow compressor.

In short, an axial flow compressor is more efficient. While other teams are maximizing the use of large centrifugal fans, Honda is using microscopic fans along the shaft. This in turn makes the system stable with pressure and cooling. A bold move that can have an effect of reliability, if and only if, every other component falls into place.

While McLaren-Honda is working day and night, if history is to be believed, it will all pay off in the long run. Which is exactly what is bound to happen. Hope isn’t lost, especially since the team consists of two of the best drivers in Formula 1. Jenson Button is a world champion and brilliant developer. Fernando Alonso brings even more potential to the table as a two time world champion and one of the most fierce drivers on the grid.

McLaren-Honda will score points in the next leg of this season with the changes being made. Looking forward to the 2016 season, they will show the dramatic effects on the design of their courageous power unit.

McLaren Honda has vowed to develop the MP4-30 until the very end of the season, it will, in effect become their 2016 car, thus putting the team in a championship winning position.

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