McLaren hopeful for “fresh push and spirit” starting at Barcelona

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After signaling their intent to roll out a series of upgrades all the way into the heart of summer, McLaren surely hopes that what they’ve concocted for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix will lead to better results for drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.

Racing director Eric Boullier has had to keep the Woking team from getting discouraged after a subpar Chinese Grand Prix, but the Frenchman says that everyone’s ready to improve their fortunes.

“For us, the weekend will be about learning, and hopefully moving on from our disappointing performance in China last month,” he said. “The root of our under-performance has been comprehensively analyzed; we know the areas where our package falls short, and we’ve taken steps – both short- and long-term – to address those.

“While not all of those will be in evidence in Barcelona this weekend, they mark the start of a fresh push and spirit within the whole organization.”

Button and Magnussen both finished out of the points in Shanghai, marking the culmination of a dramatic fall in performance since they both landed on the podium during the season-opening Grand Prix in Australia.

In his comments, Button said that Barcelona always marks something of a fresh start to the season but this year, it’s an especially important one for him and McLaren.

“For us, it’s not simply about bringing new parts to the circuit: it’s about understanding and unlocking the car’s secrets, and using that understanding to take bigger steps with performance,” the former World Champion said.

“We’re still at the early stages with our car, and, for us, it’s less about the components that we fit to it, and more about the bigger picture – finding a useful direction, gaining trust in our measurements and pushing ahead.”

As for Magnussen, he has fond memories of Barcelona after sweeping the weekend there last year in Formula Renault 3.5 before he made the jump to F1.

He’s anxious to show that McLaren’s learned from their issues.

“I think the problems we encountered in China have definitely given us the data and the impetus we need to make some changes, so I’m keen to get back in the car on Friday and see if we’ve made a step forward,” he said.

Pirelli reveals new super-hard, hyper-soft F1 tires in Abu Dhabi

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Pirelli has confirmed it will add two new tires to its range for the 2018 Formula 1 season, launching the ‘super-hard’ and ‘hyper-soft’ compounds in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Pirelli currently makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each race weekend, and despite varying selections across the course of the season has struggled to offer much in terms of strategy options, with one-stop races being the norm.

The hope is that the addition of two new tire compounds and a re-alignment of their durability will offer teams more choices in races.

Pirelli confirmed plans to introduce a new softest tire below the current ultra-soft earlier this month, inviting fans to pick a name.

The pink-colored compound will be known as the ‘hyper-soft’ from next year, with the arrival of a new ‘super-hard’ (colored ‘ice blue’) also being confirmed at a launch event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“Compared to this year, when the tires grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola said.

“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft.

“We realized that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tires we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.

“However, the fundamental design concept of the tires hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.

“The new range consists of faster tires that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”

Besides the seven dry compounds made available, there will be the two rain tires – wet and intermediate – taking it to a total of nine for the 2018 season.