© Getty Images

McLaren confirms 2017 F1 car name, ends MP4 pattern

3 Comments

McLaren has confirmed that its 2017 Formula 1 car will be called the MCL32, ending its 35-year long tradition of using ‘MP4′ as part of the chassis’ name.

McLaren introduced the MP4 naming pattern in 1981 following the arrival of Ron Dennis at the team, with the MP4/1 making its debut at that year’s Argentine Grand Prix.

Dennis announced back in November that he would be resigning from his position as chairman and CEO following a boardroom struggle, making way for executive director Zak Brown to take over at the start of December.

McLaren had previously considered keeping its existing naming pattern, as confirmed to NBC Sports by Brown last month, but the team confirmed on Thursday that the MP4 name would be following Dennis out of the door at Woking.

Via a video on Twitter, McLaren announced its 2017 car will officially be called the McLaren-Honda MCL32.

Dennis brought the MP4 name to McLaren in 1981 having previously run an operation called Project Four Racing in Formula 2 and Formula 3. MP4 came to stand for ‘Marlboro Project 4’ after Dennis took over McLaren with finance from Marlboro chief Philip Morris. Following the tobacco giant’s exit from the team, it later came to stand for ‘McLaren Project 4′.

Had McLaren wanted to strictly return to the pre-Dennisian naming pattern, then the 2017 car should have been known as the M31. However, this may have sparked confusion given the 2016 car was called the MP4-31, perhaps reasoning the decision to christen it MCL32.

McLaren is set to officially unveil the MCL32 car on February 24, with some kind of revival of its historic orange livery expected as part of the ongoing changes at Woking following Dennis’ departure.

Reports: Fernando Alonso to test on September 5 at Barber Motorsports Park

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to a number of media stories Thursday afternoon and evening, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will reportedly test an Indy car at Barber Motorsports Park on Wednesday, September 5.

The 2.38-mile permanent road course just outside Birmingham, Alabama, per those stories, will play host to Alonso as he reportedly tests with IndyCar’s Andretti Autosport team and Honda.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) President Art St. Cyr issued a statement late Thursday afternoon about Alonso’s reported upcoming test:

“Fernando Alonso is one of the premier racing drivers of this generation, and we very much enjoyed working with him at the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

“He has shown that he can be very competitive right off the bat, and it would be great for IndyCar if he were to decide to drive here full-time after his F1 career. Having Alonso as a driver would be an obvious benefit for any team or manufacturer.”

However, St. Cyr’s statement also included a reference to Honda potentially not being able to field a new engine for Alonso in the IndyCar series in 2019.

“Our engine lease agreements are made between HPD and specific teams,” St. Cyr’s statement said. “Several of our current IndyCar Series teams already have agreements in place with HPD for the 2019 season, and we have been operating near maximum capacity all year long to properly provide powerful, reliable engines for all of our teams.

“We have had discussions with several current and potential teams for 2019, and those discussions are ongoing.”

Rumors of Alonso potentially racing for a hybrid operation that would include Andretti Autosport, McLaren and Harding Racing have been picking up speed. But there’s one potential major hurdle: Harding’s Dallara’s are powered by Chevrolet engines.

Alonso announced earlier this week that he’d be retiring from Formula One at season’s end, saying he’s looking forward to new adventures.

Because of his loyalty to McLaren, it’s increasingly looking as if Alonso comes to IndyCar, McLaren will have some involvement – although perhaps not as much as it potentially could do if it went all-in with a full-time effort immediately in 2019.

There is no word whether Chevrolet or Harding Racing could potentially be on hand at the Sept. 5 test at BMP, even in just an observation role.

Since being part of the winning team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, Alonso’s desire to become only the second driver to win motorsport’s triple crown – the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500 – has increased exponentially.

He’s already won the first two; just a Indy 500 triumph remains on his bucket list.

The late Graham Hill is the only driver to have accomplished the triple crown feat to date.

Alonso, who turned 37 on July 29, has made just one prior IndyCar start, in the 2017 Indianapolis 500. He led 27 laps of the 200-lap event and appeared to have a car strong enough to win before it suffered engine failure with 21 laps remaining.

Instead of what likely could have been a top-five finish, if not a win, Alonso’s first foray into IndyCar racing ended disappointingly with a 24th-place finish.

In addition to being courted by IndyCar, NASCAR has also jumped into the Alonso sweepstakes, saying he’d be welcome to race in the 2019 Daytona 500.

Follow @JerryBonkowski