I missed a bit of McLaren action last weekend as I was too busy schmoozing with the endurance elite at the WEC six hours of Silverstone. The sun was shining (after a flurry of snow) giving an illusion of warmth, there were six hours of pure racing and there were plenty of cups of tea; the only thing missing was McLaren. I long back to ‘95 when the stars all aligned as Le Mans and McLaren came together and the McLaren F1s GTRs (multiple!) destroyed the rest of the field, finishing in 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th. Please, please, please McLaren! Anyway, for the purposes of the World Endurance Championship I transfer all of my McLaren love over to the Toyota Hybrid. Now that is a gloriously beautiful car. I think I may possibly love Le Mans Prototypes more than anything else on Earth.
I digress… So while I was freezing to death on an airfield in Northamptonshire, McLarens were strutting their stuff all round the word. Well, Shanghai, Long Beach US of A and glamorous Brands Hatch (which incidentally claims to be the UKs best loved circuit) competing in F1, the Pirelli World Championship and the British GT series.
The third grand prix of the season and a third win for Nico Rosberg, it was a slightly different story for McLaren. Whilst obviously disappointing that both cars finished just outside of the points (12th and 13th) a few positives could be taken from the race. Firstly, that since no cars retired, it gave McLaren a chance to really understand their race pace and it is a noticeable improvement on last year. Not only that, but the fact that reliability is also going in the right direction is something to take comfort from. I am also particularly excited to see that Eric Boullier has truly taken on the spirit of McLaren with some epic Ronspeak in his post race reflections including describing Jenson’s fastest lap as “a spirited circumnavigation of the Shanghai International Circuit” and summarizing his overall race as having “pugnaciously realised the maximum available out of his necessarily more dynamic three-stopper.” Please somebody let me be a fly on the wall in a Dennis/Boullier meeting one day.
Pirelli World Championship
The PWC season is also already in full flow with Long Beach marking the 5th race of the season and the first PWC win for McLaren factory driver Alvaro Parente, after a post race technical infraction relegated first place all American sounding Johnny O’Connell in the Cadillac down to second place. It was a close race for the 650S GT3 and whilst Parente obviously would have preferred to win on track, I’m pretty sure McLaren deserved to win anyway so I’ll take it.
Meanwhile, exciting things were also transpiring across the pond at Brands Hatch for the first round of the 2016 British GT series, so exciting in fact, I don’t really know where to start. I guess it should be with the McLaren 570S! The money cannot buy (yet) coupé version will be the safety car this year. I have never wanted to see a safety car out on track so much. Bring on plenty of small and safe crashes which much debris requiring an averagely long safety car stint. But wait, there is another brand spanking new McLaren 570S in the GT4 form actually taking part in the racing. The cars are in their final development year before being available to buy for those lucky so and sos who can afford one. Although with the fancy luggage compartment in the 570S maybe I could get myself some McLaren luggage (yes, that is a thing and I want some), sell my apartment and move into the car instead. After all it has a whole 220 litres of storage. What more could a girl need?
The season kick off didn’t go as well as it could have done for the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse team and their McLarens (a team name that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue but admittedly does look cool in writing). The 650S GT3 entry got screwed around primarily by a multi-car accident that saw luck against them as they fought in a crowded pitlane. Eventually the race was red flagged due to another incident leaving the team forced to settle for 7th having already battled their way through the field, however pace was good and things are looking promising for the future rounds. The GT4 sister car (can it be a sister car if it’s actually a different type of car…?) had 16 year old Sandy Mitchell at the wheel. Sixteen years old! The youngest driver ever in British GT history, as well as it of course being the debut for the McLaren 570S GT4. Having similar bad luck to the GT3 car, they ended the race in sixth but having shown that their pace was blisteringly fast in comparison to the rest of the field. Roll on the next round of British GT with hopefully less rain and crashes and red flags. Hmm it is British GT, I won’t hold my breath.