Bad behaviour in Bahrain?

I’ve already written about last weekend’s Bahrain grand prix, won by Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, but looking back again, I thought it was worth returning again to something I covered only briefly in last week’s article: the fight between the two McLaren team-mates. As mentioned in my last blog post, Sergio Perez eventually got the better of Jenson Button, despite the latter’s complaints over team radio, to finish sixth.

Jenson Button being interviewed immediately after the end of the race in Bahrain

Jenson Button being interviewed immediately
after the end of the race in Bahrain

The on track fight between the two was a lengthy one, though, and post race comments by Button, in addition to those that he made over team radio during the race, clearly showed that he was far from happy with his Mexican team-mate’s tactics. The 2009 world drivers’ champion said that he was “not used to driving down a straight and your team-mate wiggling his wheels at you and banging wheels at 300kph”, and implied that Perez was immature when he further commented that “That’s things you do in karting but grow out of. Not the case with Checo”. Was Perez really that far out of line, though?

In my view, it was great to see two team-mates battling hard for track position, and being allowed to do so. Was Perez aggressive? Yes, absolutely, but then he was under pressure to be exactly that. Let’s not forget that, three races in to his McLaren career, the Mexican was a man under pressure. He already had Lewis’ Hamilton’s very large shoes to fill when he joined the team, but after being comprehensively outpaced by Button in the opening rounds of the reason, and receiving a fair amount of fan and media criticism, that pressure had ramped up.

After the previous race in China and ahead of the race in Bahrain, his team principle, Martin Whitmarsh, said of Perez “I think he’s been very polite so far this year; I think he needs to toughen up”. He also said that “You’ve got to be out there racing and that means sometimes you’ve got elbows”, and further elaborated by saying he said. “It’s right that you’ve got to be robust without being dirty”.

So, there’s Perez effectively being told by his team-principal that he needs to be more aggressive. To paraphrase Whitmarsh, Perez had to be tough, but fair. I’d argue that that’s exactly what he was in Bahrain. The crucial battle between the two came at around lap 30 when Perez’s front wing was damaged when he hit Button’s right rear tyre from behind. Button was soon on the team radio to complain, saying “He’s just hit me up the back. Calm him down”. It would seem a reasonable complaint from the Englishman, you would certainly not expect your team-mate to behave in that manner, but I’d argue that there were mitigating circumstances.

The view from Button's onboard camera as Perez makes contact

The view from Button’s onboard
camera as Perez makes contact

It’s easy to forget that Perez damaged his own car in the incident. It’s also easy to forget that Perez was obviously not trying to hit Button’s car. The incident most likely occurred because Button was trying to prevent his team-mate from passing him on the exit of the turn, by slowing mid-corner to halt the Mexican’s momentum. It’s obviously Perez’s responsibility to react and slow down himself to prevent contact with his team-mate, and it’s clear that in this instance he failed to do so sufficiently, but was the contact really caused by over aggression?

I’d argue that it wasn’t and that Perez probably just got caught out and made a mistake. The incident could quite easily be compared to an incident in China on the opening few corners between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. In China, the Ferrari driver hit the back of Vettel’s Red Bull, damaging his front wing, which failed the next lap, putting him out of the race. Was Alonso being over aggressive in this incident? Clearly not; he got caught out because Vettel had been going more slowly than he had expected at that particular corner – much the same as Perez’s contact with Button.

Perez eventually got the better of his team-mate in Sakhir

Perez eventually got the better
of his team-mate in Sakhir

So, for me Perez was just doing what he’d been told to do – be more aggressive, but fair. It was not as if Perez was intentionally battling unfairly with another car, as Pastor Maldonado had clearly been guilty of in the past. In fact, I’d argue that if either of the two McLaren drivers was overly aggressive it was Button, who actually forced his team-mate off the track in his desperation to maintain his position. Had Perez been over aggressive in that particular instance and not yielded track position there would certainly have been contact between the two McLaren’s. Contact that could have put both drivers out of the race.

Worse than that, though, were Button’s post race comments indicating a lack of maturity from his team-mate and an over aggressive nature. Personally, I expected more from a driver of Button’s experience and standing. The Englishman had been very clear before the start of the season that he regarded himself as the team leader at McLaren after Hamilton’s departure, but his post-race comments didn’t really demonstrate the level headedness that you would expect from him.

Sam Michael excused Button's heat of the moment comments

Sam Michael excused Button’s
heat of the moment comments

Sam Michael, McLaren’s sporting director excused Button’s comments by explaining that “Straight after the race had finished, Jenson was interviewed by a large group of TV reporters, as is always the case when a grand prix has come to an end. Jenson was frustrated that his race-long battle with Checo had slowed his progress throughout the event, and believed that Checo had at times been too forceful in his defence – and he made some robust live-TV comments about Checo as a result”. Going on to say that Button had been more balanced in later interviews.

To an extent, this is fair enough. Everyone makes comments in the heat of the moment that they might later regret. Other drivers have done so in the past, and will certainly do so again in the future, but if you’re to excuse Button’s post race comments so easily, then you’ve also got to excuse a little heat of the moment over aggression , if indeed it was even that, from his 23-year-old team-mate. To be fair to McLaren they’ve done just that.

If Perez’s performance in Bahrain is any indicator of what we can expect from him for the rest of the season, we’re certainly in for some exciting racing. That might be difficult for Button to come to terms with, especially if his young team-mate can start beating him more regularly. As former McLaren driver John Watson told BBC Sport “If Perez gives Button a difficult time, it’s up to Button to come to terms with it. It’s a fact of life. He can’t expect Martin Whitmarsh to tell Perez to back off”. Watson also added “If your kid team-mate is pushing you hard, it’s not nice, but it’s part of the game. You have to respond by getting in and doing the best job”.

It’ll be interesting to see how the battle between the two team mates continues as the season develops. If Button can respond in Barcelona by reasserting the dominance over his teammate that we saw in the opening three races of the season, we might see Perez respond by either battling back hard or fading badly. If Perez can maintain the momentum he established in Bahrain, though, it’ll be interesting to see how Button reacts…

Serene Seb storms to victory in Sakhir

Well, with Sebastian Vettel’s second victory of the season in Sakhir, we now know that there will be no repeat of 2012, with eight different race winners in the first eight races of the season. In Bahrain, at least, though, we did have a carbon copy of the 2012 top three, with Vettel being joined on the podium by Lotus pair Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. While Vettel was untroubled at the front of the pack, the battles raged behind him.

It was a tumultuous, topsy-turvey race; different cars and drivers looked quick at various stages of the race, with McLaren looking extremely strong at certain points, while Mercedes looked to be struggling at times. At the end of the race, though, the only team that maximised the result for both of their drivers was Lotus, with a double podium. Unusually for me, I’m going to take a look at the race, team by team, for the top seven at least.

Vettel, leading Rosberg and Alonso early in the Bahrain GP

Vettel, leading Rosberg and Alonso early in the Bahrain GP

Let’s start with Red Bull Racing. As we know, Vettel took a thoroughly deserved and fairly straightforward victory. He battled with Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso at the start of the race and initially dropped back from his second place starting slot as Alonso opportunistically sneaked around the outside of the reigning world drivers’ champion at turn one. Vettel was back past the Spaniard later on the lap, though, and although it took him a two more laps to find a way past Rosberg’s Mercedes, once he did so on lap three he never looked back, winning the race by just under 10 seconds, looking perfectly in control throughout.

Mark Webber on the other hand had another torrid race. Eventually, the Australian finished where he started, in seventh place, but aside from a spell in second place after the first round of pit stops he never really looked in contention. Webber, of course, was hampered by a three place grid penalty carried over from Shanghai and his collision with Jean-Eric Vergne, but he never looked like he had the pace to compete at the very front of the race. Nevertheless, he battled hard throughout, eventually losing out towards the end of the race as he lost two positions on the final lap. Things could have been even worse for Webber, though, had the stewards decided that his coming together with Nico Rosberg on lap 38 was worth more than just the reprimand that he received after the race.

Paul di Resta drove an excellent race in Sakhir

Paul di Resta drove an excellent race in Sakhir

Force India had an excellent result with a fourth place finish for Paul di Resta. The Scot looked fast throughout the race and can consider himself unfortunate not to be able to take his first formula 1 podium. He led the race at times, and did an excellent job on a two stop strategy, but was overtaken five laps from the end by a charging Romain Grosjean. In contrast, though, his team-mate Adrian Sutil had a poor result. The German had started the race alongside his team-mate in sixth place, but contact with the Ferrari of Felipe Massa on the first lap of the race meant an early pit-stop for Sutil, from which he never recovered, eventually finishing the race down in 13th position – hugely disappointing considering the race that had clearly been in the car in Bahrain.

Next up, I’m going to have a look at the race for Mercedes. A dominant pole for Nico Rosberg on Saturday, their second pole in two races after Lewis Hamilton’s in China, promised much for the race. Rosberg’s previous pole position, in China in 2012, saw him take victory for Mercedes. Sadly for the German, though, there was no repeat in Bahrain in 2013. As many feared, tyre wear was a problem for Mercedes and Rosberg dropped further and further backwards as the race went on. He eventually had to stop four times due to excessive tyre wear, one of just a handful of drivers that needed to do so, eventually finishing in ninth place.

Hamilton improved throughout the race in Bahrain

Hamilton improved throughout the race in Bahrain

Ninth place was where his team-mate Hamilton had started the race after receiving an unfortunate five place grid penalty after a tyre delamination at the end of third practice on Saturday forced the team to change his gearbox. Hamilton’s pace was poor through much of the race, and it looked unlikely that he would score points at times. He fell back at the start and spent much of the race on the periphery of the top 10. In the second part of the race, on the hard tyre, the Englishman came alive, though. As his team-mate fell further back Hamilton pulled himself further forward, passing both McLaren’s and Webber’s Red Bull to take fifth. As he explained after the race “My race didn’t start well at all. I was looking after the tyres but I really struggled on the first two stints and was falling back. But as the temperatures dropped, the car picked up and then I had the grip that I needed to push and close the gap”. A good result for the 2008 world drivers’ champion, who moved into third place in the world drivers’ championship.

Hamilton’s old team, McLaren, looked transformed through much of the race. Both 2009 world drivers’ champion Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were solidly in the top 10 throughout the race, despite their modest 10th and 12th place starting positions. It looked, at times, like a complete turnaround in fortunes between McLaren and Mercedes, but it didn’t really last, at least for Button. The Englishman was the second man to have to make four pit stops due to excessive tyre wear – amazingly for a driver that’s usually so kind to his rubber. Like Webber, he eventually finished the race exactly where he started, in 10th place.

The reason for Button’s excessive tyre wear was probably the battle that raged between him and his Mexican team-mate throughout much of the race. The two drivers came together at the first corner and again later in the race as they pushed to, and sometimes beyond, the limit. Perez, after a disappointing first three races for McLaren had been told to ‘toughen up’ by team boss Martin Whitmarsh earlier in the week, and he did just that. The 23-year-old drove like a man possessed, with Button complaining about his team-mate’s driving over the team radio. The Mexican eventually came out on top, though taking sixth place.

A broken DRS destroyed Alonso's race

A broken DRS destroyed Alonso’s race

But what about, Ferrari? It had been a race which had promised much for the Italian team; both cars started the race on the second row of the grid, with Alonso ahead of Massa. Indeed, the Spaniard had looked tremendously fast all weekend and was many people’s pick to win the race, myself included. Disaster struck for Alonso on lap eight as he was forced to pit because his DRS had jammed open. His team managed to force it closed, but Alonso was back in the pits just a lap later as his DRS jammed open yet again. Again, the Ferrari pit crew forced it closed, but the Spaniard would be without DRS for the rest of the race. Considering the loss of a crucial overtaking aid, and the time that he lost in the pits, Alonso worked wonders to finish in eighth position.

Things went from bad to worse for Ferrari, though. Like his team-mate, Felipe Massa was forced to make two unscheduled visits to the pits during the race. Unlike Alonso, though, it was tyres rather than DRS that were the problem for the Brazilian. Massa suffered not one, but two right rear tyre delaminations. The first came on lap 18 and the second on lap 37, destroying his race. Massa eventually finished in a lowly 15th position, behind the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

As I’ve already mentioned, Lotus, in stark contrast to Ferrari, had a brilliant race. Both cars had qualified comparatively poorly with eighth place on the grid for Kimi Raikkonen and 11th for Romain Grosjean. In the race, though, the Enstone based team came alive, making a two stop strategy work for Raikkonen and a three stop strategy work equally well for his French team-mate. Raikkonen admitted after the race that Lotus “did not have the speed to beat Red Bull this weekend” and given that the team did as well as they could have with a double podium.

The man with the biggest smile on his face was Sebastian Vettel, though. There was none of the controversy of his win in Malaysia this time and he extended his championship lead to 10 points over Raikkonen. As I mentioned, Hamilton has moved into third – albeit a huge 17 points behind Raikkonen – with Ferrari’s Alonso a further three points back in fourth place. Next up it’s the start of the European races in Barcelona. It’ll be a crucial point for all of the teams as big upgrade packages will be bolted on to all of the cars. Will any of those upgrades mix up the current pecking order? We’ll find out in three weeks time…

Awesome Alonso surges to victory in Shanghai

The 2013 Chinese grand prix certainly kept us entertained.  With differing tyre and pit stop strategies, cars coming through the field and a variety of different teams and drivers in the mix, the result was far from certain throughout most of the race.  When 56 laps had been completed and the chequered flag had been waved, five world drivers’ champions, driving for five different teams occupied the top five positions in the race.  We saw a second consecutive podium for pole sitter and Mercedes new boy Lewis Hamilton, while Kimi Raikkonen also took his second podium of the season with second place in Shanghai, behind winner Fernando Alonso, another driver taking his second podium in the first three races of the season.

Alonso and Massa pass Hamilton on lap five

Alonso and Massa pass Hamilton on lap five

It was Alonso, who always looked in control of the race, though.  The Spaniard got a brilliant start, leapfrogging Raikkonen’s Lotus to tuck in behind Hamilton who led the early laps.  Despite briefly managing to pull out a one second gap over Alonso, Hamilton was unable to break free of the pursuing pack and was passed by both Ferrari’s at the start of lap five, with Felipe Massa following his team-mate through with the aid of DRS down the pit straight.  While that, and a brief spell in the lead when Alonso pitted, was probably the high point of the race for Massa, who eventually finished sixth, Alonso never looked back.

The double world drivers’ champion wasn’t far ahead of Hamilton after the first round of pit stops for the leading cars, but he was never truly under threat from the Englishman, who we heard comment on the Ferrari’s speed on his pit radio.   Alonso had clearly brushed off his early retirement from the Malaysian grand prix three weeks ago and drove the perfect race in China.  It seemed almost effortless for him as he cruised through the field as different strategies played out.  In the final part of the race we saw Alonso putting in fastest laps of the race.  Such was his advantage that his team told him not to push on lap 47 of the race.  His response was immediate “I’m not pushing” as he posted a lap time of 1:39.506 – the fastest lap of the race at that stage.

Alonso takes the chequered flag

Alonso takes the chequered flag

Alonso eventually finished the race a full 10 seconds ahead of Raikkonen’s Lotus.  Things might have been closer between the top two had the race gone according to plan for the Finn, though.  Two incidents spoiled the 2007 world drivers’ champion’s chances of victory, however.  Firstly, the Lotus started poorly from the front row of the grid.  Raikkonen was passed off the line by both of the fast starting Ferrari’s which meant that instead of being able to challenge the Mercedes of Hamilton for the lead into turn one, he had to defend from the cars behind him.

Although his poor getaway was certainly not helpful, it was not massively damaging to the Finn’s chances of victory as he was able to keep pace with Hamilton’s Mercedes and the two Ferrari’s in the opening laps, and was just behind Hamilton when they both made their first stops.  Indeed, Raikkonen and Hamilton were close to each other throughout most of the race, with the Finn stopping earlier than the Englishman in the final round of pit stops which enabled him to jump his Lotus ahead of the Mercedes.   Raikkonen’s chances of being able to pass Hamilton earlier and, perhaps, challenge Alonso for victory were damaged by an incident on lap 16 of the race, though.

The damage on Raikkonen's Lotus is clearly visible after his clash with Perez

The damage on Raikkonen’s Lotus is clearly visible after his clash with Perez

As Raikkonen was coming through the field on fresh tyres, attacking cars that had started on the prime tyre and not yet stopped, he came up behind the McLaren of Sergio Perez.  The Mexican had been moving around to defend his position from other cars and as Raikkonen got a run on him and attempted to move alongside the McLaren he was pushed onto the grass, lost control and hit the back of Perez’s car as he rejoined the track.  The Lotus’s front wing was damaged and although team radio suggested that it would be changed at the next pit stop, Raikkonen continued with his damaged wing for the remaining 40 laps of the race.

Although Raikkonen’s car was suffering from increased understeer because of the damage, the team clearly decided that it was better to manage the car in that condition, rather than lose time by changing the nose.  It’s hard to say how much quicker Raikkonen might have been able to go with a new nose, or how much track position he would have lost had the team made the change.  Whatever the case, the Finn would have lost time either way.

Lewis Hamilton on his way to a second consecutive third place finish for Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton on his way to a second consecutive third place finish for Mercedes

It was hugely impressive that despite the damage, Raikkonen was able to get the better of Hamilton.  Mercedes have certainly made huge steps forward since last season, but despite Hamilton’s obvious speed in qualifying it’s clear that Mercedes do not quite have a race winning package yet; a fact that team principal Ross Brawn acknowledged on the slow down lap when he said to Hamilton “We’re not quite there yet, but we’re not so far away. Let’s keep working hard” over the team radio.  Indeed, Hamilton had to work hard to hang on to third as Sebastian Vettel charged up behind him on fresh option tyres in the last few laps of the race.  Just three tenths of a second separated the Mercedes and the Red Bull as they crossed the line.

Despite a fifth place finish for Jenson Button, it’s clear that, despite the upgrades that the team brought to China, McLaren aren’t really much further forward.  They made the most of their tyre and pit stop strategy to lead the race at one stage, but it’s telling that the 2009 world drivers’ champion still finished the race over 20 seconds behind Vettel, who started one place behind him on the grid and deployed an identical strategy.

Still, the Englishman can be fairly happy with his race, certainly happier than Mark Webber whose bad luck continued in China.  After the Red Bull team order debacle in Malaysia, Webber only qualified 14th at Shanghai after his car was under-fuelled in the second part of qualifying.  This error was compounded when there was insufficient fuel to provide the requisite one litre sample, which meant that the Australian was disqualified from qualifying.

Webber's bad luck continues as the wheel comes off his Red Bull

Webber’s bad luck continues as the
wheel comes off his Red Bull

Webber and Red Bull chose to start from the pit lane, but his bad luck continued in the race.  First he came together with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne on lap 16 – an incident for which the stewards gave him a three pace grid penalty for the next race – which damaged his front wing.  Unlike Raikkonen, whose front wing damaged occurred at the same stage of the race, Red Bull decided to pit Webber for a fresh nose.  Just a lap later Webber was reporting a problem with the car and as he cruised slowly back to the pits his right rear wheel came off on lap 18 putting him out of the race.

As a result, Webber falls down the fledging world drivers’ championship table, swapping places with race winner Fernando Alonso who moves from sixth in the standings to third ahead of Lewis Hamilton who maintains fourth place in the championship.  Sebastian Vettel still leads, although his lead of second placed Kimi Raikkonen is now only three points, a third of his previous advantage.

We’ve only got one week to wait until the next race in Bahrain.  Who knows how the Pirelli tyres will work in the desert and who will hold the advantage at the Bahrain International Circuit?  I can’t help but feel, though, that, three races into the season, Pirelli haven’t got their tyres quite right.  There’s a fine line between producing tyres that make racing exciting and tyres that produce an artificial spectacle.  The races are certainly exciting, but the drivers aren’t able to push flat-out anymore and the majority of the overtaking is purely a result of different tyre strategies.  Formula 1 has become all about tyre management rather than pushing to the limit.  Are the 2013 tyres a step too far?  I think so, but maybe after the result in China, Fernando Alonso will disagree…

EXCLUSIVE: McLaren’s new title sponsor revealed

As we all know, McLaren and Vodafone announced that their six-year title sponsorship agreement would not be renewed at the end of the season.  McLaren have already revealed that a new title sponsor has been signed up, but they have not revealed who that sponsor will be.  They have set 2 December 2013 as the date that all will be revealed.  Now, nearly nine months is an awfully long time to wait, especially in the fast paced world of Formula 1, but fortunately we don’t have to wait until December for the answer.  In a first for my blog, I’m able to reveal, as a WORLD EXCLUSIVE, the identity of McLaren’s new title sponsor from 2014 onwards.

Sergio Perez has been sponsored by Telmex throughout his career

Sergio Perez has been sponsored by
Telmex throughout his career

With the arrival of Sergio Perez at McLaren this season, many had speculated, even before the announcement of the end of Vodafone’s title sponsorship agreement with the team, that Vodafone and McLaren would part ways.  This is because of the Mexican’s long running sponsorship agreement with Carlos Slim’s telecommunications giant Telmex, a Vodafone competitor.  Telmex, of course, are already in Formula 1 as sponsors of the Sauber team, Perez’s former employer for whom Esteban Gutierrez, his compatriot, now drives.  So, does a move to McLaren beckon for Telmex?  I can reveal that the answer to that question is no.  Telmex will not be McLaren’s new title sponsor.

So, if not Telmex, then who?  Well, I’ve managed to tease you for a couple of paragraphs, but I’m going to answer that question right now – eight months and a day before McLaren’s official announcement.  I’m able to exclusively reveal this news now because of contacts at the company involved, rather than at McLaren, which explains why I’ve been able to get the scoop on more established Formula 1 journalists.  McLaren’s new title sponsor from 2014 will be…McDonald’s.

Jamie McMurray driving his McDonald's liveriedChevrolet at Pheonix last month

Jamie McMurray driving his McDonald’s liveried
Chevrolet at Pheonix last month

The American fast food giant serves around 68 million customers daily in 119 countries and certainly has the financial muscle to be able to enter into a long-term sponsorship agreement with a Formula 1 team, despite the global economic downturn.  They also have a history of motorsport sponsorship.  They have been involved in NASCAR for quite a number of years and as recently as late last year they announced that they would be increasing their sponsorship of Jamie McMurray’s Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, after the departure of previous primary sponsor Bass Pro Shops.

The exact value of the McLaren McDonald’s deal has not been revealed to me, but I am able to say that the figures involved are significant.  The value of the deal is in excess of McLaren’s previous $75m per year deal with Vodafone and will certainly be enough to give the team a significant financial boost at a time when a number of Formula 1 teams are struggling financially, as evidenced by the recent demise of the HRT team, and the dramatic increase in the number of pay drivers in the sport, particularly among the smaller teams.

Expect to see McDonald's fleet of McLaren P1s on the roads from 2014

Expect to see McDonald’s fleet of
McLaren P1s on the roads from 2014

McDonald’s and McLaren had been in negotiations for quite some time.  Discussions started well before Vodafone had decided to withdraw from Formula 1.  McDonald’s have spotted an opportunity to steal a march on competitors like Burger King and will shortly be announcing a move into the home delivery market, having identified an increasing trend towards families economising by staying in, rather than going out.  This has led to a noticeable reduction in footfall for McDonald’s which they’re determined to address.  It is this home delivery service  – Speed Assured Delivery – that the McLaren sponsorship deal will serve to promote.  The SAD service will utilise Formula 1 technology, developed in partnership with McLaren, to ensure that food is delivered to the customer’s door no more than 20 minutes after an order is placed.  McDonald’s will be able to guarantee this thanks to the acquisition of a fleet of McLaren’s new P1 sports cars.  Unfortunately, my sources tell me that McDonald’s will not be able to offer Happy Meals with the SAD service.

Alongside the headline sponsorship figure, the deal with McDonald’s will also see the McLaren’s trackside catering operation being run by the US firm, who will also be launching a range of new products to their menu as part of the sponsorship tie up.  As I mentioned, McLaren’s negotiations with McDonald’s have been going on for quite some time, pre-dating Lewis Hamilton’s departure from the Woking-based team.  Indeed, the Englishman’s departure almost scuppered the deal completely as one of the big new promotional tie ups was set to be a brand new McHAMburger, which was to be promoted by the 2008 world drivers’ champion.

Some of the existing McDonald's menu

Some of the existing McDonald’s menu

The loss of Hamilton did not prove to be fatal for the deal, though.  This is mainly due to the strength of the other menu based promotional concepts that the companies have managed to develop.  Chief among these is the new ‘double Mac’, a double size Big Mac which celebrates the partnership between the two ‘Mc’ companies.  It’s also rumoured that a new spicy hotdog item will be part of the promotional menu, to be fronted by Sergio Perez; the Devilled Roasted Sausage (DRS) McHotdog.  Jenson Button is expected to promote a new Jelly Bean (JB) McFlurry.  All of these new menu items will, of course, be available with the SAD service.

With the arrival of McDonald’s we will have to bid farewell to the iconic McLaren chrome and red livery from 2014.  As you might have guessed, McLaren will be painted in the McDonalds red with the ‘golden arches’ yellow accent.  This may well upset Ferrari, and there is already some talk that the Italian team will retaliate by launching their own restaurant chain.  The menu is already under development with the ‘Prancing Horse Burger’ set to be the chain’s signature dish.  Given the recent Europe-wide horse-meat scandal, some rethinking may be required, though.

I have asked McLaren to comment on this article, but as expected they’re unwilling to confirm or deny anything ahead of their official announcement on 2 December.  Their media relations officer, Jo King would only say “We don’t comment on speculation. Our new title sponsor will be announced on 2 December”.  I was also unable to get any official comment from McDonald’s sponsorship co-ordinator Stu Pidd.

* Did you notice today’s date?  If you’re reading this after the publication date, you might want to pay some special attention to that before taking this article too seriously.  Happy April Fools day!