Red Bull aero chief Prodromou to join McLaren in 2015

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McLaren have confirmed that Red Bull’s head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou will join the team at the end of his current contract with the world champions to coincide with the return of Honda in 2015.

Prodromou has been instrumental in Red Bull’s dominance of the sport over the past four years, working with technical guru Adrian Newey at Milton Keynes. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said in Korea that the team would be announcing some “impressive” backroom signings in the coming weeks, and Prodromou appears to be the first of these.

“We do have to remember that the contract Peter has at the moment is a Red Bull contract and I have to respect that,” McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale explained to journalists in Japan. “It’s for them to talk about what his terms are and what his leave dates are.

“But in terms of our position then, yes, we have recruited Peter. We are really excited about him joining the team.”

Prodromou will return to McLaren at the end of his contract in 2015, having worked for the team between 2000 and 2005 under Newey.

McLaren have endured a difficult year in 2013 thanks to problems with the MP4-28 car, but plans are slowly coming together for the Woking-based outfit to bounce back when their new partnership with Honda begins in 2015.

Rumors continue to persist suggesting that Ross Brawn could leave Mercedes to join McLaren, but he is yet to make a final decision about his future.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.