McLaren gives up on 2009? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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McLaren gives up on 2009?

McLaren may scrap 2009 car program (GMM) McLaren is considering scrapping the 2009 season and turning its full attention and resources to next year.
"That is one of the possibilities, but we haven't yet arrived at that point," team boss Martin Whitmarsh said in an interview with Spain's El Pais.

"We are still going to all the races with the intention to win. Giving up is not our style," the Briton added.

However, defending champion Lewis Hamilton is already a massive 42 points behind drivers' title leader Jenson Button.

The Mercedes-powered team, meanwhile, acknowledges that the MP4-24 is not going to shine at aerodynamically-demanding circuits like the forthcoming Turkish venue.

"Perhaps for formula one it is not bad that Ferrari and McLaren are struggling, as it demonstrates that winning in this sport is very difficult," Whitmarsh said.

He applauds the success of the new Brawn GP entry, but points out that the team's car is based on former owner Honda's 2008 efforts comprising "four wind tunnels and hundreds of millions of euros".

Whitmarsh also pointed out the contribution of the 'double diffuser' controversy.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 11:01 AM
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I understand Honda pretty much did the same thing last year. I imagine they knew they were leaving the series tho.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Honda was a bit puzzling, because although they did give up on the 2008 car, they then proceeded to do substantial R/D on the 2009 car. The success of Brawn is because of that focus. Then they pulled the plug at the last minute.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-01-2009, 08:07 PM
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When I lived in Iran, my neighbor in Tehran had a joint venture with Honda, manufacturing rotary tillers / cultivators for rice fields, and I was was often asked over to back him up when Honda bosses were in town.
I personally was able to observe the rigidity of Japanese company structure, how the person in charge is being deferred to, and even how this spills over in peoples private lives.
The only loosening I saw was when the customary and inevitable drinking got under way.
The spirit of choice was usually good Scotch, but the glasses are topped off after almost every sip. After a while, one has little idea of how much is actually being consumed.

Where the heads of say European operations of other multinationals have authority to make decisions up to a certain magnitude, when it comes to their Japanese counter parts, the manager may have to contact HQ in Japan, where a group of old men will consider the issue for days, and sometimes weeks.

The Honda guys must have kicked themselves many times over by now.
Especially in view of the money provided to Brawn for the current 2009 season.
$ 75 Mio was mentioned, and still cheaper for Honda than paying termination fees / winding up operations in England etc.

Hindsight being 20/20, even in the present economic climate, with a Honda engine of similar hp and reliability, and the same unparalleled success, I think many Japanese companies would love to have their logo on the car, and offset most of the teams expense.

Toyota must be amazed (and perhaps discouraged) at the performance of the Brawn, which is really still a Honda with a Mercedes/McLaren engine.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2009, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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Great insight...

Don't you know it will kill them to see the silver star on the front of that Brawn car!
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2009, 11:49 AM
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Honda didn't/don't have what it takes to win in F1.

IMO, to be really successful in F1, the team must be lead by someone who is highly intelligent, vastly knowledgeable about F1 and have very clear aims and objectives that he/she is able to put into the hearts and minds of everyone in the team. They must then be allowed to get on with it, without having to answer to some faceless suit x thousand miles away.

As for McLaren and also to some extent Ferrari, I think they were too distracted last year and the year before. Fighting for a championship, fending of legal battles, dealing with internal wranglings between team mates....

None of that helps with the design and development of a new car that fully exploits a new set of regulations (which is what Brawn GP has done). I think the latter part of this last sentence is critical in understanding McLaren and Ferraris lack of pace this season.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2009, 05:47 PM
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Honda was a Formula 1 team the first time in the 60's with several race wins.
They quit the sport after the death of their racing driver Jo Schlesser at Rouen.

Honda as an engine supplier, 1983-1992

Honda RA121E V12 engine as supplied to McLaren for the 1991 season.

Honda returned to Formula One in 1983 as an engine supplier for Spirit and stayed in the sport for a decade, at various times teaming with Lotus, McLaren, Tyrrell and Williams. Honda engines were considered the ticket to Grand Prix glory due to their power, reliability, and winning track record. Honda supplied its engines to six constructor champions, as well as five driver championships (3 by Senna, 1 by Piquet, and another by Prost), before dropping out of the sport again. Honda-powered cars had won 71 Grands Prix, by the end of the 1992 season.

Aborted F1 project (Honda Racing Developments), 1999

From 1993 to 1998, Honda's only presence in F1 was as an engine supplier through its associates Mugen Motorsports, who supplied engines to Footwork, Lotus, Ligier, Prost and Jordan. Mugen-powered cars had won 4 Grands Prix by the end of the 1999 season. In 1998, Honda was seriously considering entry in Formula One as a constructor, going as far as producing an engine and hiring Harvey Postlethwaite as technical director and designer. A test car, RA099, designed by Postlethwaite and built by Dallara, was made and tested during 1999, driven by Jos Verstappen. The team impressed at test sessions, beating some more experienced and better financed teams, even if they were mostly in the midfield. At a test of this car, Postlethwaite suffered a fatal heart attack, the project was later shelved and Honda decided to merely recommit as a full works engine supplier to BAR, starting in 2000.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2009, 10:29 PM
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Not to diminish Nick Fry's, and most of all Ross Brawn's role in the success of the Brawn car, but a $ 500 Mio Honda 2008 budget, a mid 2008 season shifting of resources / assigning 300 people (out of 800 staff) to develop / focus on the 2009 car, the use of 4 wind tunnel and a large group of engineers and so on didn't exactly hurt.

Just a thought; The Brawn team is likely to win the 2009 constructors championship.
If / when they do, for someone to travel low key to Japan and present a copy of the trophy to Honda would be a great gesture of acknowledgment, and IMO much appreciated by the Honda board, without any need of publicity.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2009, 11:42 PM
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Thanks, I am quite aware of Hondas F1 achievements, and they are as you point out considerable, especially as a master engine supplier. Engine, especially combustion technology is one of Honda's major strengths.

Cosworth also won many races and world championships as an engine supplier. Ford were hopeless when they tried with their own team. If you look at Ford's success in Le Mans, 'big Ford' essential sub contracted the GT40 project to Ford UK, where a small team were allowed to get on with it. End result brilliant and very successful car. If big Ford had tried to manage that project by remote control it would have failed in a massive cloud of beaurocracy..

Big corporations are generally pretty useless at being successful in F1 in terms of running a team. They are to unwieldy and there are too many powerful people in the organisation that are too far away from the 'coal face'...

The Brawn car would probably have been as fast with a Honda engine. So it's unfortunate that Honda bailed when they did, because they actually had the right structure in place as shown this season.

But I think this illustrates my point in that the corporate side of the business was/is too remote from the F1 side to fully understand what they had. Prior to Ross Brawn coming along the corporate part of the business was trying to run the F1 team by remote control. Ross doesn't work that way and has again been proven to have what it takes.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-03-2009, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
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I think you're right Geejay. If you ask Bobby Rahal what the challenges were trying to get the Jaguar team competitive he'll tell you that the infighting, the political struggle with Niki Lauda and interference from Dearborn were too much to overcome. One season was enough.

Once Adrian Newey saw firsthand Lauda's power plays and Bill Ford's increasing impatience with the team he reneged on his commitment to come to Jag and stayed at McLaren.

As a side note, it was during that time that Bobby discovered Danica Patrick. When Lauda wouldn't support her efforts in Europe (even after she tied Danny Sullivan for the best finish ever by an American at the Formula Ford Festival in the UK), Bobby brought her back to the US.
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