McLaren Technology Centre

Schumacher in the rain, surprise wins and visiting McLaren

Your questions answeredPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

McLaren Technology Centre
McLaren Technology Centre

It’s time to tackle another clutch of correspondence from the F1 Fanatic inbox.

The latest crop of questions include how to get a tour of the McLaren Technology Centre, going to the Indian Grand Prix, and some interesting trivia topics.

Here’s the latest selection of your questions answered.

McLaren Technology Centre tours

First up, a couple of questions from McLaren fans:

I’m the girlfriend of a ridiculously huge McLaren fan. At the end of September we’ll be in Paris and I wanted to surprise him by taking the train to London where I was hoping to take him to the McLaren Technology Centre.

Would you happen to know any information about visitors being allowed in? Or even if there’s anything else that a huge McLaren fan would enjoy in London? I’ve tried looking up info on their homepage but there is no one to contact!

Thank you so much for your help.

Kind Regards,


My son Steve is 21 on the 6th of October and has been an absolute fanatic of F1 since he was five and can tell you about any lap in any race over the years.

He seems to know everything about every driver and car in F1. He’s a great lad, I think I know what the answer is going to be, but would it be possible for him to have a look around the McLaren site. I know it would be a great day for him.

Warm regards

Tony Hampton

The McLaren Technology Centre is a stunning building, the nerve centre of their racing operation, and showcases many of their great F1 and other racing cars.

Tours are arranged on a limited basis and to have the chance to go on one you need to become a ‘Tier 2’ member of McLaren’s Membership Programme. A 12-month ‘Tier 2’ membership costs ??50 for an adult, ??60 for a pair of adults, and ??10 for children.

Find out more about McLaren’s Membership Programme here:

Are you a member of McLaren or any other team or driver fan clubs? Tell us about them in the comments.

Television graphics

Olle has some thoughts on how F1’s television coverage compares to NASCAR:

I just read your article regarding radio traffic during the races. I also would like to complain about the graphics.

Watch a NASCAR race and you know what I mean. There you can see a banner that shows the gap in real-time. In F1 a list rolls a couple of times/race and is updated maybe once. Sometimes in NASCAR it is shown with arrows to a pair of cars that shows gap, speed etc…

In F1 it feels like Christmas when the graphics is shown with gear, revs, throttle, brake etc… The broadcast from F1 feels a bit ’80s, sad since F1 is presented as a hi-tech sport.

Olle Hildebeck

I agree that F1 hasn’t explored the possibilities for television coverage nearly as well as NASCAR has. Remember that NASCAR began its high definition broadcasts in 2005 – F1 has only had it since this year.

It is worth bearing in mind that NASCAR races generally take place on ovals that are much shorter than F1 tracks which means they need less equipment to cover them in the first place.

But even so they make far better use of features such as split-screen coverage which F1 is crying out for.

We have started to see some new information on the screens this year including useful information like DRS activation and which tyres drivers have used.

Personally I would not like to see the screen cluttered up with too much information. But there is much unexploited potential in using the internet to supply the kind of real-time information that fans want to see such as car data, more detailed timing and, of course, real-time radio broadcasts.

Some teams like McLaren and Mercedes already offer this on their websites.

F1 emissions

Steve wants to know what steps are being taken to reduce emissions in F1.

Keith, I’m having a discussion with several people on our Austin American Statesman news paper here in Austin about CO2 and Formula One cars. They quoted that Jenson Button’s car would emit over 50 tonnes of CO2 during the season.

I did a little research and found that they had quoted a 2007 story from The Guardian. I still want to prove that F1 is carbon neutral and emits less now than then. Do you have any links that I might be able to use?


Steve Calvert

In 1997 the FIA began purchasing carbon credits from the Fonfo BioClimatico project in Mexico to offset the CO2 produced during a Formula 1 season (see this PDF report). This pays for the planting of trees in a forest in Chiapas.

However work is also being done on the more pressing task of reduce the emissions that are produced in the first place. Last year the Formula 1 Teams’ Association said it would reduce its emissions by around an eighth by 2012.

This includes more than just the tailpipe emissions from the cars, which are dwarfed by the volumes produced in transporting the F1 cavalcade around the world and powering the teams’ factories and wind tunnels.

At the end of last year McLaren was awarded the Carbon Trust standard for measuring and reducing its emissions. They reduced their CO2 output by 1,500g tonnes per year, the equivalent of running their wind tunnel non-stop for seven months.

Watching the Indian Grand Prix

Here’s an F1 Fanatic who’s planning to go to the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

Hello Keith,

A long time reader of F1 Fanatic here! I am planning to go to my first F1 Grand Prix this October in India. The tickets have just been made available but I was wondering which stand should I go for? Do I prioritise heavy breaking zones or do I look for a birds’ eye view of multiple corners.

Chandrahasa Reddy

As always you’re best place to look for answers on questions like this is the race discussion pages. There are already some F1 Fanatics who are planning to go sharing thoughts on where to watch:

Find the race discussion pages for the other remaining races here:

Schumacher shines in the wet

David is testing my F1 recollection:

Michael Schumacher drove a race some years ago, it started to rain and everybody went in for wets except Schumacher who stayed out on his slicks, he drove really well keeping it on the road but the rest of the field were catching him, the rain stopped and they all had to stop again for slicks, Schumacher romped home miles ahead. Which race and year was it?

David Ashbrooke

I suspect the race you’re thinking of is the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix.

Schumacher started 16th on the grid after a rain-hit qualifying session. Title rival Damon Hill lined up eighth.

Halfway through the race Hill had risen to the lead and Schumacher had moved up to second behind him. But when rain fell Hill pitted for wets while Schumacher stayed out on slicks.

Hill caught Schumacher who defended his lead vigorously – earning a one-race ban, suspended for four races, after making contact with the Williams.

Hill eventually gave up and returned to the pits for slicks. Schumacher won while Hill passed Martin Brundle for second place on the final lap having been delayed by a penalty for speeding in the pits on one of his many visits.

Surprise winner

Here’s another F1 history question from Pete Johnson.


When do you reckon was the last genuine surprise winner of a Grand Prix? My definition of a surprise winner would be someone who wasn’t from one of the top teams form-wise for any given year. For example this year for me a surprise winner if it happened now, based on results so far for this year, would come from say Mercedes or Renault and then any of the others further down in the points.

Perhaps Button’s win in Hungary was the last one? Button’s first win for Brawn in 2009 wasn’t really a surprise as testing gave a few major clues as to the way things may turn out for the year.

Anyway I reckon F1 is way overdue for a ‘surprise winner’!


Pete Johnson

You could make a case for two of Button’s wins – his maiden triumph with Honda in 2006, or that memorable victory for Brawn in the first race of 2009.

But I would say the last true ‘surprise win’ was Giancarlo Fisichella’s for Jordan at Interlagos in 2003.

Of course he wasn’t declared the winner on the day – the trophy was incorrectly given to Kimi Raikkonen, and only later was the mess sorted out.

That rather took the shine off what was a fabulous maiden win for Fisichella and the last for Jordan and Ford-Cosworth.

Private messages

Let’s wrap up with a question about the site from Anagh.


I was just wondering why isn’t there a facility to send private messages to other members of the site? It’d be nice if there was some way of sending PMs to other members. Or is there one and I don’t know about it?


Anagh Desai

I always like to see readers using the site to arrange to meet up at races and other events. Usually that means there comes a point where contact details have to be swapped.

At the moment there isn’t a means of doing that privately via the site. This is one of several features currently under development for the site which I hope to introduce soon. As you’d expect, it will only be available for registered users.

There are several other improvements to the community side of things in the pipeline. At the moment I’m not able to say when they’ll be ready to go on the live site but a lot of work is being put into this at present.

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