The MP4-30 has completed it first laps as the new partnership between McLaren and Honda began at the Jerez circuit. Fernando Alonso managed six installation laps of the track as the team and engine manufacturer begin to work with each other. Alonso ended the day with an unrepresentative time of 1m40.738.
There were some electronic issues throughout the afternoon, which meant the car had to remain in the garage, however, there are high hopes for a successful day tomorrow when Jenson Button takes over the steering wheel.
After the running, McLaren boss Ron Dennis also alluded to a change of livery for the MP4-30 in the coming weeks.
Former team boss Ron Dennis has been appointed Group CEO of the McLaren Group and has immediately vowed to return the Formula One to the head of the field after a disappointing 2013 season.
Dennis addressed staff for 20 minutes at the teams Woking base on Thursday afternoon. He is believed to have told employees, “there will be changes…We will win again.” Dennis has announced that he will set up a review of the company and its strategies to enable McLaren to “win at whatever we do.” Dennis will remain the chairman of McLaren Automotive.
Current Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was not present at the address and it is unclear whether he will retain his current position at the head of the F1 team. Whitmarsh is also the Chief Operating Officer of the McLaren Group.
“My fellow shareholders have mandated me to write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance,” Dennis said.
“Over the coming weeks I intend to undertake a thorough and objective review of each of our businesses with the intention of optimising every aspect of our existing operations, whilst identifying new areas of growth that capitalise on our technologies, and where appropriate further investing in them.
“During February, I will articulate a new Group strategy and implement the organisational structure best suited to achieving it. I am excited by the prospect of returning to the role of Group Chief Executive Officer and working with my many colleagues and fellow shareholders to fulfil our objective, which is to win at whatever we do.”
Ron Dennis has been a shareholder of McLaren since 1980. He became CEO of the Group in 1982 until 2012. He was also the Team Principal of the F1 team from 1982 to 2009, before stepping down from his position as part of an ongoing spat with the then-FIA boss Max Mosley.
General paddock consensus is that McLaren will announce Samsung at their car launch in January. The announcement was due to go ahead on December 2nd, however the team thought it may be able to generate better publicity fore the brand at the launch.
It follows the announcement by Vodafone at the beginning of the year that they would be withdrawing from the sport. That deal for the title sponsorship and branding on the cars, driver overall and other team merchandise was said to be in the region of $50m per year.
Samsung pulled out of sponsoring the British Superbike team Honda Racing earlier this month which has added fuel to the rumours.
The other leading contender is Procter & Gamble using their Gillette brand. Gillette starting its partnership with Mclaren earlier in 2013 at the Chinese Grand Prix. The companies main focus was on expanding into the Asian market.
Many insiders have said that this deal will be key for Formula One marketing as it will be able to tell where the sport stands after the global financial crisis.
F1 will be considered in ‘good health’ should McLaren’s new sponsor yield a similar return to the partnership with Vodafone. Should the deal fail to impress or impact, then it may well raise some concerns for the sports financial health.
Either way it looks like the future is blue for McLaren.
Sergio Perez has been struggling for pace in Shanghai. His first two practice sessions were blighted by incidents, in Practice 1 he ran straight on at the pit lane entry and broke his front wing, whilst in Free Practice 2 he found himself sliding off backwards around the fast Turn 7 Turn 8 complex, flat-spotting his tyres and lightly touching the barrier with the right rear of his Mclaren.
The young Mexican conceded that the two Friday sessions were not perfect preparation for Sundays race and that his incidents have left him lacking in confidence and feeling uneasy “Today was a difficult day for me, but an important one for the team. Still, I’m sure we will improve tomorrow.”
Perez is pining his hopes on changing the cars balance before Free Practice 3 on Saturday, “I’ll effectively be starting from zero because I’ll adopt a completely new set-up.”
Gary Paffett had begun work back in the Mclaren simulator in Woking straight after the sessions in China, to find a different set up which may help Sergio get back up to speed and on the right track for the rest of the weekend. The pair even had a conversation on Twitter to complement each others work: