10 Reasons to keep one eye on McLaren in F1 next year.
1. Fernando Alonso
2017 proved beyond all doubt that this ‘competitive animal’, as Zak Brown puts it, has lost none of his bite. His driving this year has been as impressive as it ever was and his motivation (when you could understand if it had dipped) has burned brighter than ever. Re-signing him for 2018 was a key moment for the team, the future could be exciting.
2. Stoffel Vandoorne
Stoffel has had to adjust to competing further down the field than he’s used to this year. However, with help from the likes of Tom Stallard he’s honed and adapted his driving style and has put in some impressive drives, outpacing his World Champion team mate on more than one occasion. He calmly puts in the work and rarely makes mistakes but make no mistake, he is quick. Surely a candidate for dark horse of 2018.
3. Lando Norris
FIA European F3 Champion Lando, is having an incredible year. His recruitment as test and reserve driver is a significant development for both him and the team. In August 2017, Norris tested for McLaren F1 in a scheduled mid-season test. He set the second fastest lap in the second day of testing at the Hungaroring. That tells you a lot. As reserve drivers go, they don’t get much better than this bright prospect.
4. Zak Brown
Zak has been parachuted into an extremely difficult situation at McLaren. That difficult situation immediately demanded difficult decisions. Zak has risen to the challenge, securing a competitive engine, a fantastic driver line up and the cherry on the cake will be some new sponsors (I reckon he’s working on that). This year he really proved himself as the right man for McLaren - no doubt.
5. Eric Boullier
Eric (with help from Jonathan Neale) has effectively changed the way McLaren work and given it much more focus. It seems the foundations are now firmly in place for success. It’s a leaner operation, there is much more collaboration and as Eric himself has said “We are here to win, nothing else”. Now that is focus.
6. The Aero
The correlation between simulation and track has been vastly improved by the team, especially if we think back to the difficulties faced by the team back in 2013 in this area. The intricate and sophisticated updates have been both regular and highly effective.
7. The chassis
The general performance around some of the more twisty sections of track this year reveal McLaren have a highly capable chassis. This bodes well if next year’s car is an evolution of the current chassis.
8. The team
The loyal race team has toiled hard these last 3 years. I have to mention the pit crew who have undertaken numerous engine change-outs and the associated late nights. They are a credit to McLaren, their hunger to succeed has in no way diminished. I would never underestimate them.
Power. More power. Let’s just say it’s more than welcome and leave it at that.
10. The fans
The McLaren fans have been proven to be a loyal bunch. And there are many of them out there willing the team on, you could witness that from the recent MTC Fan Day.
They are as hungry for better times as the team are.