McLAREN’S decision to join Formula E could prove to be a masterstroke — both on the track and in the boardroom.
The legendary Formula One team confirmed last week that they will join the series next season in time for the Gen3 era — the third generation of the all-electric racing car that promises to give the championship a boost.
McLaren are stepping into Formula E in time for the Gen3 era
Gen3 is said to be the quickest electric racing car in the world, with a top speed of more than 200mph.
Now, I’ve always been a supporter of FE since its debut in 2014. It is not F1, neither does it want to be F1. It is a world championship event in its own right.
I can see the benefit of manufacturers competing in the environmentally-friendly series — and, subsequently, it has attracted big sponsors, too.
Plus, I can also appreciate the excitement of pop-up events in city centres, where it is possible to watch qualifying, go for a pint in a pub and then return to watch the race.
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But McLaren’s entry to FE has caused a stir in F1 circles, with some suggesting the team are spreading themselves too thinly.
As well as F1 and FE, McLaren are also involved in the IndyCar series in the US and Extreme E — the electric off-road championship.
Granted, that is a lot of championships at a considerable cost, especially when they are not yet regular-enough winners in F1 to start taking a breather.
But I would argue that over the past four years, they are the most improved team, having gone through a complete restructuring — and that would imply they know what they are doing.
And therefore, it seems very sensible they would join FE, especially when you consider how they are doing it — by taking over current champions, Mercedes, who are leaving at the end of the season.
Inheriting the team that heads the field would seem to be much smarter than starting from scratch, as others have.
We do not know yet who will be driving but Ian James, current boss of the Mercedes-EQ FE team, will be staying — another wise move by McLaren.
In taking a step into FE as a front-running outfit, McLaren will be hoping that translates to success on the track.
But more importantly, perhaps, is the benefit that being in FE will bring to their road cars.
McLaren want to use that FE knowledge for their supercar production line — which makes perfect sense.
Others may turn their noses up and make jokes about McLaren sticking to racing petrol engines rather than milk floats.
But I think the move is a good one because, like it or not, we are all going to be driving electric cars rather soon.
IT’S MIAMI STRIFE, DIP
THE messy fallout from the Miami Grand Prix goes on with more reports of disgruntled guests — this time Grammy-winning DJ Diplo has had his say.
After being invited as a guest of Red Bull hospitality, he said: “I still don’t know anything about F1. It was this bad box, like a jail.
“Also they had no food, and all I wanted was a sandwich, so I left.
“When you watch it on TV, it’s so sick to watch the shot, but being there live, I couldn’t get any vibe.
“It was sort of stressful. It was just a lot of walking around for no reason.”
That said, armchair fans tuned in, with an average viewership of 2.6million making the Miami race the LARGEST audience for a live F1 broadcast on American television.
THE BRIT AWARDS
THERE was a victory for Team BRIT at Snetterton — with Chris Overend and James Whitley winning the second race on Sunday in the Britcar Trophy.
If you are unfamiliar with the team, they are an all-disabled race team who have the goal of competing in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race.
Team BRIT drivers take on able-bodied racers on a level playing field.
This is thanks to the world’s most advanced hand controls on the steering wheel — which enable disabled drivers to race competitively.
HE’LL BE H-UG-E
UGO UGOCHUKWU. Remember the name.
The 15-year-old from New York was at Brands Hatch and won the British Formula 4 race on Sunday in tricky conditions.
The American is part of the McLaren young driver programme and boss Zak Brown cheered him on.
It was his maiden win after joining Carlin this season.
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He is on the same career path as F1 star Lando Norris.
And there is a feeling Ugochukwu also has the potential to reach the top.