McLaren staff gave up Christmas holiday to get new F1 car ready

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McLaren operations director Stephen Roberts has revealed that some of the team’s staff had to sacrifice time off over Christmas in order to get the new car ready for the 2016 Formula 1 season.

After enduring a miserable 2015 campaign that saw the team finish ninth in the constructors’ championship, McLaren has been working hard over the winter to prevent a repeat in 2016.

The new season had been scheduled to start at the beginning of April in Australia, only for the calendar to revert back to its traditional mid-March kick-off slot.

This in turn caused pre-season testing to be brought forward, leaving teams with a race against time to make up for this shift.

In a feature on McLaren’s official website, Roberts revealed that the McLaren team was forced to sacrifice its time off over the holiday period to speed up the development progress and ensure that the new car will make it to the first test in Barcelona.

“Our entire build programme wasn’t lined up for [the early start]” Roberts said. “So we knew we had a problem to solve.

“In terms of our design and engineering capacity, it’s a relatively straightforward re-planning exercise – there’s less time to get the work done, so everyone works a bit harder.

“But the build schedule is on a critical path. It needs to pass all the FIA safety tests and be ready for the first test, which was also brought forward. In that situation, you can’t just re-plan, you need to do something different.

“We put about eight shifts of work back into the programme over a five-day period – a fantastic effort. In total, there were about 110 people involved and we looked after our Christmas workers with a competitive package.

“We had a really good response, and people seemed to enjoy it too – it was a bit weird, not having all the time off, but there was a good spirit in the place. Everyone knew why they were doing it, and it really cleared the decks.

“Most pleasingly, it meant that, once we came back in the New Year, we were back on schedule – and it felt like the programme had always been phased that way. It was an incredible effort.”

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.