Grand Prix Driver: 10 things I learned
A fan's take on this unique look inside McLaren last year. There may be spoilers.
1. This was an honest take on McLaren in 2017
You have to give credit to the team for giving us a truly authentic look at the trials and tribulations of 2017 at McLaren. They opted not to airbrush out anything. The few highs, the many lows, it was all here.
2. The Honda fire up sequence was 2017 summarised in one small event
"It won't crank". No it didn't. And with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps it was all rather ominous.
3. Fernando has all the charisma you will ever need
It was great to see a more light hearted side to Fernando. Sure he's driven by winning, but he is also very playful and funny around those in his inner circle. Great to see and perhaps not expected.
4. Stoffel is one determined guy
We've also seen drivers post selfies in the gym (especially at this time of year) but it's quite another thing to see what kind of training and commitment is involved in being 'race ready'. I know 2017 will come as a big disappointment for Stoffel, but his relentless determination really struck me and I'm left to ponder what might be in 2018...
5. Matt Bishop may possibly be the most patient man ever
Matt's pre-launch briefing with the drivers was an exercise in calm determination. "Change was needed and change can be good, right?". Now repeat after me. We miss him already.
6. Jono Brookes is a legend
Jono is a quietly spoken guy but the way he calmly handles the various problems put in his path is actually quite inspiring. He also works incredibly long hours from what I can see. The words 'unsung hero' spring to mind. I suspect there are lots of other Jono Brookes-type characters over at Woking.
7. If you are in a crisis, be glad of Jonathan Neale
As well as Zak Brown, CEO Jonathan Neale really steps up in this documentary. His speech was for me, the stand out moment of the series. "We’ve done that experiment about trusting what is going to happen. We need to find a new way, a new plan. McLaren will not travel hopefully during the course of this season.” This was real leadership.
8. Frustration is palpable
The build up was full of hope, graft and ambition and it made the sting of disappointment, in those first tests in Barcelona, so much more painful. If it was like that for us watching (and even knowing the outcome), I can't imagine what some team members had to endure.
9. A car can be a symbol
Well, it's literally just a car of course but I never 'got' just how important it really is as a symbol of the combined time and considerable effort of so many people over the winter. I have a new appreciation and respect for the level of collaboration involved in it's creation. Adds a whole new dimension to watching the launches for this year.
10. The team is ultimately all about its people
This is ultimately what I was left with. I was a big McLaren fan before, but more so now having seen this great outfit in action, overcoming hurdles and just gritting its teeth and keeping going through a long and difficult year. We got to see so many great characters otherwise hidden from the TV audience. I hope 2017 perhaps made them stronger in some way and I hope better times are in front of them all. They surely deserve it.
'Grand Prix Driver' is available now on Amazon Prime.