Dennis: No driver contracted to McLaren for 2015

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has said that the team does not have a contract signed with any driver for the 2015 Formula 1 season as speculation continues to suggest that Fernando Alonso is set for a return.

Following yesterday’s shock decision from Sebastian Vettel to leave Red Bull at the end of the season, seemingly bound for Ferrari, Alonso has been marginalized and is now in a far weaker position to the one he was in even a week ago.

Alonso claims that he has known for months what he’ll be doing in 2015, reportedly angling for a return to McLaren where he spent one season back in 2007. However, Dennis reiterated yesterday that the team does not have a deal with the Spaniard for next year, nor with current drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.

“We do not have a contract with any driver at this moment in time,” Dennis confirmed in Japan yesterday. “Of course we talk and do all the things you’d expect us to do, but at this moment in time we do not have contracts that we have activated.”

Dennis admitted that this placed a great deal of pressure on both Button and Magnussen, given that Alonso’s presence is likely to force one of them out of McLaren at the end of the season. However, the team CEO stated that his priority was producing a car good enough to win the championship in 2015 after two disappointing seasons.

“It’s not a great position to be in if you’re Jenson or Kevin,” Dennis conceded. “But the reality is they understand our priority is to produce a winning car that they can win with.

“The answer is simple, we don’t have a contract with any driver in respect to next year. That’s a simple factual statement.

“The first thing we have to be is massively attractive to all drivers and I hope we are very attractive to the two drivers who are currently and more than likely will be driving the cars next year.”

After just one season with McLaren, Magnussen will be hoping that he has done enough to secure a sophomore year in F1, but his inexperience could play against him. Although Button is vastly experienced and a former world champion, his age could put McLaren off and may force the Briton into retirement.

Of course, this is all dependent on Alonso’s next move, and following Red Bull’s swift decision to promote Daniil Kvyat, he doesn’t have many to choose from.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”