Boullier: Monaco points just the beginning for McLaren

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has said that the team will not waste too much time celebrating Jenson Button’s eighth-place finish at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, believing that to be just the beginning of a new dawn for the British outfit.

Since rejoining forces with power unit supplier Honda for the 2015 season, McLaren has encountered a number of technical issues with its new car, the MP4-30, that had prevented it from scoring any points before the race in Monaco last weekend.

Button finished the race in eighth place to score four points, which are the first of the second McLaren-Honda era. Although Boullier was pleased, the Frenchman said that the team had far loftier ambitions.

“Since the beginning of the season we’ve been consistent in our messaging: we’re all working extremely hard, and the result of that arduous toil is steady improvement,” Boullier said after the race.

“Thanks to Jenson’s eighth place, our renewed McLaren-Honda partnership was rewarded with its first world championship points – a result that underlines that steady improvement.

“Okay, we’ve now squirrelled away four world championship points, but, although Jenson drove very well, we won’t waste time celebrating that milestone.

“Yes, it’s encouraging, but our ambitions run to far greater heights than eighth places. And we’ll achieve them, believe me.”

In spite of this strong showing, McLaren heads to next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix expecting to struggle thanks to the engine-focused nature of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Nevertheless, with a series of updates for the MP4-30 car scheduled for the rest of the season, the team could yet continue to make – as Boullier put it – “steady improvement” and make a regular return to the top ten.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”