McLaren finishes as bottom Mercedes team in China

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Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen will have been pleased to have finally seen the checkered flag in yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix after a disastrous weekend that saw the McLaren team leave Shanghai empty handed.

After a terrible 2013 campaign, the team had appeared to have made a big step forwards as both of its drivers finished on the podium at the Australian Grand Prix. However, since that impressive 33 point haul, Button and Magnussen have mustered just 10 points and failed to score any in the past two grands prix. On Sunday in China, Button came home in 11th place, with the rookie Magnussen two places further back.

“It was pretty difficult out there,” Button said. “It felt a little bit like qualifying yesterday, we just couldn’t get the front tyres working – they just grained.

“We’ve got a few upgrades for the next grand prix, in Barcelona, but they won’t be enough to close our performance gap to the fastest cars.”

Magnussen also had little to say about the race: “It felt like a long race, because there wasn’t much I could do out there. Our car lacks downforce – that’s its main problem. The way it’s set up, and how it feels, has always been positive; it’s just low on grip, that’s all. So, clearly, we need to work as hard as we can to create that missing downforce.”

McLaren had promised to make a big gain in Malaysia three weeks ago, with Ron Dennis predicting that the team would have cut the gap to Mercedes at the front by half a second. Instead, the British squad in fact finished as the bottom Mercedes-powered team in China behind the works team, Williams and Force India.

Button and Magnussen will be keen on responding at the Spanish Grand Prix next month, where the team should debut its first major upgrade package for the MP4-29 that could remedy some of its problems.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.