McLaren set to carry out aggressive series of upgrades


Shortly after a dismal Chinese Grand Prix for his team, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier noted that upgrades to the MP4-29 were in the works for not only the next round at Barcelona but for deeper into the European portion of this year’s Formula One schedule.

Today in a team teleconference, Boullier revealed how far the upgrade plan would go by saying they were already mapped out to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July.

“Everything is planned already,” he said according to F1’s official website. “Spain will see an interesting upgrade for the car, [while] every race will see an upgrade package.

“The good thing is we have a very, very good rate of development in the wind tunnel, so then it is just up to us to manufacture the parts and bring them on track.”

The next few months will be critical for the team as it tries to pull itself out of its slump, which has not abated since rookie Kevin Magnussen and former World Champion Jenson Button both hit the podium in the season opener in Australia.

In Shanghai, Button and Magnussen were only able to finish 11th and 13th respectively, giving McLaren the worst results among the Mercedes-powered teams.

However, Boullier believes the team is still capable of victory as the season progresses.

“We have to believe we will win a race,” he said. “I think we will be able to keep pushing to bring a very strong and aggressive development for the season.

“I think we put ourselves in a position to fight for a win – maybe not in the first part of the season, but hopefully later.”

Altogether, Boullier is hopeful that 2014 will prove to be a “benchmark year” for the team as it attempts to return to the top after a dreadful 2013 season.

“It should be seen as a year of rebuilding a winning team,” he said.

Reaction to INDYCAR/NBC Sports Group announcement: Mario Andretti, Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal and social media

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Like countless others on the East Coast, Mario Andretti was fighting through a snowstorm Wednesday morning.

But emotionally and personally, it was a very bright and sunny day for the legendary Indy car driver.

In an exclusive interview with, Andretti spoke in glowing terms about this morning’s announcement of a multi-year media rights partnership between INDYCAR and NBC Sports Group beginning next year.

“I think this is awesome,” Andretti said. “It’s music to my ears and all of us. NBC has been very familiar with IndyCar racing, so they’re a great partner. I’m elated that it’s all nailed down, secured and I’m looking forward to the future.

“It’s also great for the young lads in Indy Lights coming on, and it’s great for all the sponsors to have that kind of exposure. It’s a good day for INDYCAR today.”

Andretti lauded the fact that all elements of INDYCAR coverage – TV, digital and streaming – will now be under one corporate roof, so to speak.

“Personally, I think it’s huge,” Andretti said. “Everybody is going to be very familiar with everything, the storylines are going to flow perfectly from event to event. There’s nothing like continuity.

“It’s okay sometimes if you have two networks, but to me, the best possible solution is this. That’s why I think this is really a great day for INDYCAR racing to have NBC involved and the continuity is huge for us.”

MORE: NBC Sports Group, INDYCAR partner on new TV and digital rights agreement starting in 2019

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Several other high-profile individuals within the IndyCar community also gave their take on Wednesday’s announcement, including statements from team owners Roger Penske and Bobby Rahal.

Roger Penske: “As an industry, we are very fortunate to have the NBC Sports Group grow their presence and coverage of INDYCAR racing and really invest in the future of the sport. We believe there is a great deal of positive momentum in the Verizon IndyCar Series right now, from the development of the new race car, to the very talented group of young drivers and new teams coming into the sport this season.

“With the announcement of the enhanced broadcast partnership with NBC, it certainly adds to the excitement for the future. We know that the ways our fans are watching races and viewing INDYCAR content is rapidly changing, so staying ahead of the curve and the developing technology with our partners is important to the growth of our sport. We look forward to working with the NBC team to continue to build INDYCAR and take the sport in new directions.

“We also need to thank ABC and ESPN for all their terrific coverage over the years. The ABC network helped bring some of the most memorable moments in racing to life – including many of our team’s Indianapolis 500 victories – and we appreciate all of their hard work and passion for INDYCAR racing.”

Bobby Rahal: “It’s great news. I think the fact that the IndyCar Series will be under one roof, so to speak, network-wise can do nothing but great things for our sport. To increase to having eight races on network TV is also great news of course.

“The quality of the NBC broadcasts have gotten better and better over the last several years. They do a great job of providing interesting and entertaining content for the viewers and I think that will only continue to grow with the relationship going forward. That type of storytelling is also what helps bring new fans to the sport.”



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