McLaren drivers get new race engineers

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will both have new race engineers this year as McLaren makes changes to its race team.

Phil Prew, who was Hamilton’s race engineer last year, will move into the new role of principal race engineer. Managing director Jonathan Neale explained how the position will work:

He?ll travel to every race and will manage the set-up, development, and sharing of data and information between both race engineering teams.

The race engineering team on Lewis?s car will be headed by Andy Latham, with Mark Temple as his performance engineer. On Jenson?s side, Jakob Andreason ?ǣ a very experienced engineer who has worked alongside Phil on Lewis?s car for the last few years ?ǣ will be the race engineer. Dave Robson, who?s also very experienced, will be Jenson?s performance engineer. We?re giving both drivers a fresh engineering team, with Phil as the bridge between them both.

It?s primarily to ensure there?s total transfer in the learning of set-up development. It gives us a figurehead and a go-to person for the rest of the organisation across the race weekend, so they can ask Phil: ??What?s happening with set-up? Which way are we going??

We can also better use the simulation team and the engineers back at the McLaren Technology Centre to say to Phil: ??You might want to try this,? and Phil can supervise that flow of information.
Jonathan Neale

Neale said the setup will help ensure the drivers will receive equal treatment:

When Jenson visited MTC, one of the questions he asked was, ??Is this Lewis?s team?? and the answer was ??Yes, of course it?s Lewis?s team?? as it was Heikki Kovalainen?s team, Fernando Alonso?s team, Juan Pablo Montoya?s, and Kimi Raikkonen?s. And it will be your team as well.

Is this Lewis?s team to the exclusion of any other high-performance driver? Absolutely not. At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we love winning drivers ?ǣ and we want to go about telling the world that story.
Jonathan Neale

He added that the resource restriction agreement, which came into force at the beginning of the year, was another part of the reason for the change.

Hamilton’s new race engineer, Andy Latham, has been with McLaren since 2000. He was the test engineer for the last two seasons and before that was assistant race engineer to Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

Jakob Andreason, who will race engineer Button’s car, has been with McLaren for nine years and has been an assistant race engineer since 2005.

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22 comments on McLaren drivers get new race engineers

  1. Macca said on 11th January 2010, 16:09

    Is this Lewis Hamiltons team? YES!!!!

  2. Hairs said on 11th January 2010, 16:10

    HMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    The guy overseeing everything was Ham’s race engineer.
    Some of Ham’s other engineers have been swapped across the garage into Button’s team.

    “When Jenson visited MTC, one of the questions he asked was, ‘Is this Lewis’s team?’ and the answer was ‘Yes, of course it’s Lewis’s team… as it was Heikki Kovalainen’s team, Fernando Alonso’s team, Juan Pablo Montoya’s, and Kimi Raikkonen’s. ”

    Possibly not the best examples, as Kimi was turned on by Ron, Alonso dragged the FIA into the garage to guarantee no sabotage, Montoya was made walk the plank mid-season for considering Nascar, and Heikki is on camera swearing loudly to Finnish TV “I’m not allowed to race”. Interesting times ahead, as always at McLaren….

    • sato113 said on 11th January 2010, 17:50

      ‘as Kimi was turned on by Ron’
      oh really?

      • Hairs said on 11th January 2010, 23:41

        According to reports I’ve heard from the time he announced he was signing for Ferrari Ron started treating him quite badly, making “They’ll have to make a tractor for Kimi” comments in the media (particularly bad as McMerc had essentially robbed the man of 2 titles through engine unreliability).

        I wasn’t watching F1 for a variety of reasons at the time so I’m not sure of the details but by all accounts it was fairly acrimonious and a lot of people were surprised to hear Kimi might be prepared to sign for them again.

  3. hmmm….that’s interesting. In a ‘let’s see who really is quickest in a 2010 car’ type of way.

  4. David said on 11th January 2010, 16:21

    It would be interesting to understand how much a team allows driver to driver passing information about set up.
    If Ham got a great set up, would they tell Jenson the parameters?

    • Zahir said on 11th January 2010, 20:49

      I think they would as it would benefit Mclaren but if the two were fighting it out for the championship and either driver asks his engineers not to divulge his set up to his team mate then I guess they will have to oblige.

  5. Tiomkin said on 11th January 2010, 16:34

    Maybe I’m naive, but surely it is in Mclaren’s interest if they want to win the constructor’s (cup), that both drivers perform as well as they can. Why would a team purposely destroy the second/other driver? Why give 2nd place to the real rivals… the other teams out there.

    It makes no sense no matter how much a driver whines to the press, for a team, any team to shoot itself in the foot. And yes I know that if there is one set of upgrades then somebody has to get them first. Logically that would be the driver with the best chance of capitalizing the advantage and scoring points for the team.

    If this interteam rivalry was a real problem, why run two drivers? One would be logical.

    • Adrian said on 11th January 2010, 16:51

      100% agree.

      It seems to me that the best approach should be to give both drivers absolutely equal machinery, free choice of strategy (much easier this year with no refuelling and when you consider that LH and JB will likely wear their tyres at different rates) and try to get as many 1-2’s as possible. Then allow the drivers to race each other and whichever is the faster driver wins…

  6. Is it the Buttoning down of the Hamilton(s) in works after Ron stepped aside ?

    All said Lewis hamilton is the best driver on f1 track today. A good racer need not search for a great car. Great cars will naturally come to them.

  7. Pointer said on 11th January 2010, 18:11

    Does anyone have details of the ‘resource restriction agreement’? I remember it being touted by some of the team principles as an alternative to the budget cap, but hadn’t seen any mention of it being implemented.

  8. Oliver said on 11th January 2010, 19:41

    I think changing the race engineers was done so both drivers will have equal learning curves with their new race engineers. In a way I think Lewis will suffer this season because Button is going to get a whole load of attention from Mclaren.

    • Maksutov said on 11th January 2010, 20:01

      I agree, i think the shuffle of engineers is a good idea. I am very interested to see how that will play out. Something tells me that this will make things more equal. many ppl feel that Hamilton >> Button, but I would still like to see Button surprise us.

  9. Alex Gant said on 11th January 2010, 22:10

    McLaren won’t have any time for in-team bickering or messing about if they are going to take on Schumi and Mercedes and Alonso and Ferrari. F1 is a team sport and they are going to need everyone pulling together because the competition looks like it’s going to be immense. Can’t wait!

    • I absolutely agree with you Alex Gant, they should focus on beating the other teams. The last time McLaren had 2 competitive drivers was when Alonso was there and even then he fought till the last race. Button also had a similar experience this year with Barrichello and they managed to bring the team forward together, so hopefully he’ll do it again this year..

      It’s interesting how Jonathan Neale describes Button’s engineers:
      “…Jakob Andreason – a very experienced engineer…”
      “…Dave Robson, who’s also very experienced…”
      He didn’t say that about Lewis’ engineers, as if he’s trying hard to prove that they’re giving Button equal treatment lol.

      • Monad said on 12th January 2010, 10:44

        Well can you blame him with all the “is Lewis team and he was there from when he was a 13 year old” crap we hear. Like getting funding meant he was in the factory putting the team for when he will arrive or something.
        The guy was just getting some financial help that was something like a scholarship since he had to be on top to have it(let’s not forget they dumped him for a while when he had a few bad resolds)something that many drivers get and everyone acts like was working in the Mclaren factory or chilling out with the Mclaren employees.
        It’s ridiculous.

  10. Prisoner Monkeys said on 11th January 2010, 23:03

    I like the Button is getting people who have worked with Hamilton before. The team is clearly going to treat them equally, rather than tack one side of the garage with the very best people and leave everyone else to the other side.

  11. Icthyes said on 11th January 2010, 23:20

    Interesting way how they’ve structured the equality between the drivers, there’ll always be accusations but I think this system will work for the most part.

  12. Hairs said on 11th January 2010, 23:46

    I think McLaren as a team are prepared to invest a lot in this partnership as they’ve lost out on the constructors championship too often. two reliable fast drivers with excellent race pace are just what they need, and didn’t get with Kovi.

    The organisation gets a lot of finger pointing for favouring hamilton, but I think if there is a problem for Button it’s going to come from the Hamilton “camp” trying to sabotage rather than McLaren staff “favouritism”. If Button is winning races, or putting up podiums, while Lewis is throwing away points for no reason with stupid crashes or mistakes like he did the last 3 seasons, then it’ll be a very pro-Button team.

    But the likelihood is Hamilton’s simply naturally faster than Button and will be the #1 on merit. Full marks to Jenson for taking the hard route though.

  13. “He added that the resource restriction agreement, which came into force at the beginning of the year, was another part of the reason for the change.” – I must have missed this issue of resource restrictions with all the other hoo ha going on. Do we no what these and other restrictions entail exactly…

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