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F1 2016 Team Preview: McLaren

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Coming off the back of one of its worst seasons in Formula 1, McLaren enters 2016 with hopes of a revival. With one of the most experienced line-ups on the grid and a rich heritage, can the new season bring better things?

TEAM: McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team
ENGINE: Honda
CAR: McLaren MP4-31

2015 STATS

Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 27
Laps Led: 0
Drivers’ Championship Positions: 16th (Jenson Button); 17th (Fernando Alonso)
Constructors’ Championship Position: 9th

2016 LINE-UP

22. Jenson Button (GBR)
14. Fernando Alonso (ESP)

2015 TEAM RECAP

2013 and 2014 may have been disappointments for McLaren, but 2015 was a total nightmare. Honda’s arrival failed to remedy the issues the team had faced in its final Mercedes years, with a number of issues with the power unit limiting McLaren to a paltry haul of 27 points from the entire season. Reliability was the biggest sticking point, leaving both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso frustrated on a regular basis. The storm was weathered in the end, but 2015 acted as a new low point for one of F1’s proudest teams.

2016 OUTLOOK

It can’t get any worse than 2015 for McLaren… can it? In short, probably not. Honda appears to have made some major breakthroughs with its engine for the new season. It won’t be Mercedes-esque or perhaps even on a par with Ferrari or Renault, but the fact that McLaren will be able to compelte a full qualifying lap at full power with no major issues is something. Racing director Eric Boullier has set his sights on the team regularly featuring in the Q3 shootout, suggesting regular points may be on the cards. Will that be enough to keep Alonso and Button happy though?

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.