Ahead of a brand new season which comes with its own host of technical changes, including the return of turbos and whole new Power Units, McLaren have announced a number of changes to their team as they themselves enter a new era.
They recently launched a moderately redesigned website, removing any reference to Vodafone after the team’s partnership came to an end with the telecommunications company at the end of 2013 after seven seasons together. They had been expected to announce a new title sponsor at their car launch, which takes place online tomorrow, but they have since revealed this will not be the case. They will be going forward without a title sponsor (as yet), something which is mirrored in the previews released of their 2014 merchandise.
2014 will also see the end of another long-standing relationship, as McLaren part ways with Mercedes after a partnership spanning twenty years. Mercedes started providing engines to the team in 1995 and together they have won 77 races, two constructors championships and two drivers championship. McLaren will be returning to Honda, with whom they enjoyed the ‘glory days’ of the late 80s early 90s.
It’s not all ending relationships, however, as McLaren have announced a new partnership with Norton Rose Fulbright, becoming the first partnership of its kind in Formula 1 between a team and a global legal practice. Norton Rose Fulbright will also become global legal advisor to the McLaren Group.
“This is an exciting partnership,” Peter Martyr, global chief executive of Norton Rose Fulbright said. “McLaren Mercedes is a leading brand, as is Norton Rose Fulbright. By becoming a corporate partner and providing worldwide legal services to McLaren Group, we aim to reinforce the importance that we place on our people’s commitment to teamwork and excellence. We have already committed to developing a joint CSR project.”
As well as their new partnership, McLaren have confirmed a renewed partnership with Santander. “Santander and McLaren have formed a long term partnership and together we have set new standards in sports marketing,” Keith Moor, Chief Marketing Officer of Santander, said. “Our decision to renew that relationship is not something that we have taken lightly, but it is based upon a proven track record of achievement and we are pleased to continue to be in partnership with one of the most iconic brands in global sport”.
McLaren have also been looking to the future with the announcement that Stoffel Vandoorne has becoming the team’s official reserve driver for 2014, as well as competing in GP2. Vandoorne, who lost out on the World Series by Renault 3.5 series title to Kevin Magnussen, says that he is “thrilled and honoured” to have been selected to be McLaren’s reserve driver. Both Vandoorne and Magnussen have been part of McLaren’s Young Driver Programme, and towards the end of last season the team announced that they would be replacing Sergio Perez for the upcoming season with Magnussen. Both are young drivers who have shown incredible speed and potential in their careers so far.
Furthermore, there have been changes at the helm of McLaren, with Ron Dennis regaining control after being reinstated as CEO of the McLaren Group. This has led to intense speculation surrounding the future of Martin Whitmarsh, who previously held the role as well as Team Principal. Dennis offered some powerful words on his reinstatement, saying: “There will be changes – we will win again”. The move comes after one of McLaren’s worst seasons in the sport with no wins or podiums and a middling fifth place in the championship. Whether or not Whitmarsh continues as team principal reans to be seen, but with the season just around the corner no doubt McLaren will confirm their structure soon.
McLaren have made some positive strides as they move into the 2014 season with the desire to put 2013 well and truly behind them. After some initial concerns that the team had failed the mandatory crash tests, they seem to be back on track after confirming they had passed all of them and will be on track in Jerez. The world’s eyes will be on the team tomorrow as they become the first team to officially launch their car (Force India and Williams have revealed pictures) before testing commences on Tuesday.