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McLaren breaks up F1 summer break with ‘Woking GP’ circuit

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It’s good to know McLaren can have some fun with the summer break, as the wait continues for the start of the second half of the 2017 Formula 1 season.

The team today made a satirical play with the launch of the Woking International Circuit ahead of a hypothetical “Woking Grand Prix,” circling around the McLaren Technology Centre headquarters in Woking, Surrey.

There is no detail spared in the track map, as McLaren outlined a 63-lap race around a 3.01-mile street circuit, complete with full corner and straight names such as Boundary and Doubletree Bends, Maybury and Victoria Straights, a DRS detection zone and a pit complex on the outside of the front straight.

Within this release, McLaren states: “McLaren has been a Woking resident for almost 40 years, happily sitting alongside fellow Woking-ites Paul Weller and The Jam, Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt, Harry Hill and TV chef Delia Smith.

“McLaren has yet to formally present any of its plans to Woking Borough Council, because it’s a bit scared about how they might feel about the extensive and costly re-profiling of many roads and local landmarks that will be required.”

It’s nice to see the quotes are as tongue-in-cheek as the idea itself.

Jonathan Neale, COO of McLaren Technology Group said, “Why not? Why not bring Formula 1 to the streets of Woking? Obviously, aside from the huge social and financial commitment needed to set up the infrastructure, re-profile roads, re-lay Tarmac, fit miles of Armco, build grandstands, pay for race-hosting fees and gain approval and sign-off from the FIA, we don’t see any barriers to our vision.

“In an era that’s often seen as being hemmed in by bureaucracy and narrow-mindedness, that’s actually very refreshing.”

Zak Brown, Executive Director, McLaren Technology Group, added, “It was Mika (Hakkinen) who first raced a Formula 1 McLaren around the streets of Woking, way back in 1998. When I say ‘raced’, he wasn’t actually racing it, he was driving it. Slowly. Which was probably an even tougher test for Mika, because he never drove anything slowly.

“Still, that event lit a spark that started a fire that turned into a dream that we converted into an idea: to host a round of the Formula 1 world championship on our doorstep, in Woking.”

For the full release and “plans,” go to McLaren’s website, which is linked here.

In the meantime, it’s fun to think about the prospect of such an ambitious street course – even if it’s rooted in humor, not reality.

Red Bull, McLaren stack up on ultra-softs in Spa F1 tire picks

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Red Bull and McLaren have both taken full advantage of Pirelli’s decision to take the ultra-soft Formula 1 tire to Spa for the first time, stacking up on the compound for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Pirelli released each driver’s tire picks for the race on Thursday, having previously announced that it would be supplying teams with the soft, super-soft and ultra-soft compounds for the race in Belgium.

McLaren and Red Bull both opted to go aggressive, their drivers electing to take nine sets of the ultra-soft compound to Spa, skimping out on the soft tire as a result.

F1 title contenders Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have gone for a more conservative approach, the latter opting for the joint-safest selection in the field with four sets of softs, three super-softs and six ultra-softs.

As usual, drivers will be required to complete Q3 on the ultra-soft tire and save one set of both the soft and ultra-softs for the race, using either tire once.

PWC: Parente (GT), James (GTS) capture Sunday Mid-Ohio wins

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – Alvaro Parente (GT) and Ian James (GTS) captured Sunday’s wins for the Pirelli World Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

GT

Parente completes his first weekend sweep of the year after a second successive authoritative drive from pole to victory in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3.

The wins were his third and fourth of the year in the Sprint season and saw him close even further on Sprint championship leader Patrick Long, who finished second in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R this afternoon (unofficially within five points).

Impressing in third with his first overall podium in GT only competition is series veteran Alec Udell of GMG Racing, driving the No. 17 Porsche. The native of The Woodlands, Texas is still only in his early 20s but has starred in the series’ GTS, GT Cup and GTA classes and classifications. Today, he drove a heady race beyond his years matched up against many of the series’ veterans, and held off a hard charging Kyle Marcelli in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.

Udell’s overall podium capped off a banner weekend for GMG; James Sofronas won his second straight GTA race in his No. 14 Porsche while George Kurtz did the same with his No. 04 McLaren 570S GT4 in the GTS Am division.

GTS

Photo: PWC

The string of one manufacturer sweeping the weekend in GTS finally ended in Mid-Ohio. After Lawson Aschenbach took the spoils on Saturday in his No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, his season long sparring partner Ian James took Sunday’s win in his No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT.

James got past Aschenbach after hounding him the first 18 laps of the 35-lap contest before taking the lead on the 19th lap Sunday, and extended his margin to 1.917 seconds at the checkered flag.

This is James’ third win of the year, the first driver to reach that mark, and he now sits second in points behind Aschenbach. With races in Utah, Circuit of The Americas and Sonoma Raceway to come over the next couple months, it’ll be interesting to see of Aschenbach’s consistent run of podiums keeps him at a margin similar to the 267-181 score, as it is now.

Alonso grabs deckchair under Hungary podium, embraces the meme (VIDEO)

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Fernando Alonso rode into Formula 1’s summer break in style by recreating his iconic deckchair moment under the podium following the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Alonso charged to McLaren’s best result of the year by finishing sixth at the Hungaroring, lifting it to ninth in the constructors’ championship above Sauber.

A special piece of artwork depicting Alonso on a beach in a deckchair – reminiscent of his famous moment in qualifying for the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix – had been placed under the podium in parc ferme.

As the top three drivers took to the podium in Budapest, Alonso played his part in the ceremony by turning up and sitting on a lounger, embracing the meme that has defined his recent career.

Lando Norris also gets confirmed for Hungary test with McLaren

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McLaren Honda young driver Lando Norris has joined the list of those confirmed for the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test as well.

He’ll run on the second day, Wednesday, of the two-day test with Stoffel Vandoorne running on day one, Tuesday.

The teenaged Brit races for Carlin in the FIA F3 European Championship this season and is one of the most talented prospects in the pipeline, following his karting career and early years in formula cars. This will mark his test debut in an F1 car.

He was announced as part of McLaren’s development program in February.

Norris was confirmed a little more than a week ago for next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in a United Autosports Ligier JS P217 LMP2 car but this gives him his first go in a proper F1 rocketship.