McLaren needed deal with major carmaker – Whitmarsh

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said it was crucial for the team to agree a new engine deal with a car manufacturer.

The team announced last week it will reunite with former engine supplier Honda in 2015.

“McLaren needs to be supported and teamed in a full works effort with a major automotive manufacturer,” said Whitmarsh at a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.

“We’re going to be doing all we can to win races with Mercedes this year and next, but inevitably moving to Honda in 2015 gives us a bedrock of being one of the big teams.

“It ensures that in the long term we have the resources, the correct structure and focus, to be successful.”

Whitmarsh added the switch between engine suppliers, which will come after the first year of F1’s new engine regulations, will be “a tough challenge for the team”.

McLaren and Honda won their first race together in the 1988 Brazilian Grand Prix and their last race together in the 1992 Australian Grand Prix. During that period they amassed 44 wins out of a possible 80, four consecutive constructors’ championship victories and four drivers’ titles won by Ayrton Senna (three) and Alain Prost (one).

Driver Jenson Button will be reunited with Honda having used their engines between 2003 and 2008.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”