Whitmarsh: Honda deal to yield new era for McLaren

Leave a comment

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is excited about the impending revival of the team’s partnership with Honda, believing that it will be the start of a new era for the team.

It was announced earlier this year that Honda would be returning to Formula One in 2015 as an engine supplier for the British team, reviving the McLaren-Honda partnership that dominated the sport in the late 1980s. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost swept the board for McLaren, claiming every pole position and fifteen out of sixteen race wins in 1988. Although the teammates’ dispute boiled over, McLaren and Honda continued to work together until the end of 1992.

For Whitmarsh, the renewed partnership will give McLaren a great chance of returning to winning ways after a difficult spell, winning just one drivers’ title since the turn of the century.

“There is obviously a massive excitement in the company. I was around when we last raced with Honda and they have a racing culture and a racing spirit,” Whitmarsh explained to ESPN F1.

“That’s exciting and very motivational within the team and we can now look ahead to the next ten years knowing we have got a fantastic budget, resources and a partner to continue winning and being successful in Formula One. It’s a challenge, it always is, but I think it’s an exciting one.”

Honda withdrew from Formula One at the end of 2008 due to spiralling costs, but the return of the Japanese manufacturer will excite many fans of the sport with memories of the Marlboro-liveried McLaren MP4/4 dominating the 1988 season.

The deal will however bring to an end McLaren’s long-standing partnership with Mercedes, who have supplied the British team with engines since 1995.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.