Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Ode to Prancing Horse

For five years
There was a man
He was from Spain
And he had a dream
That one day
He would be Champion
A Champion, in red
With the mark of distinction on the side
"il Cavallino Rampante"

The Prancing Horse
Known the world over
For the man from Spain
It was his aim to win
However, for five years
His efforts were in vain

As time went on
He became broken
He knew his time was running out
And the Prancing Horse was moving nowhere
So he had to

With a heavy heart
And a heavier wallet
The man from Spain left
To a place not unknown

He had a past
And it wasn't one
Of joy and remembrance
More of saboteurs and distrust
And one in particular
For whom he clashed
Promises broken, or so it is said

The man from Spain
Would be happy if he was not there
But his old adversary came back to power
To turn around his floundering team
And in a twist, also to the man from Spain

A move no one predicted
Except one man from Ireland
With awful fashion sense
The man from Spain heard his call
And also the money he would make
So he reunited with old foes
To try and achieve the same goals

And what of the Prancing Horse?
It is wounded but there is light
Or so they think
A boy from Germany
With much success before
Who wants to emulate his childhood hero
But he shall be warned
The Prancing Horse
Could be in pain some more

Monday, 4 August 2014

Silly Season all year round

"Silly Season" is a term given to a time when rumours and speculation get rather out of hand for any given subject. However, in more recent times, thanks to social media and the internet in general, this seems to never stop.

Let's take one example, Formula 1. Formula 1 has a silly season every year when drivers are constantly linked to moves away from their current teams to pastures new. One such team who has had lots of links to drivers is McLaren. It's fair to say that the Woking based team has not had the best of years recently but with the return of Ron Dennis and a reuniting partnership with Honda for next year, The driver who has been talked about as leaving is Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion talked of retirement after his dad John passed away earlier this year but insists that he is not going to retire any time soon. After telling the press that he needs to focus more, Ron Dennis himself may be looking elsewhere for someone to get the team back at the front of the F1 field. Two of the surprising drivers linked are Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, team-mates from the infamous 2007 season.

It's unlikely that they would ever be team-mates again but one of them returning to McLaren, debatable. With Lewis, he left the team because he wanted more freedom and he wasn't happy after a retirement at Singapore, where ironically, a Mercedes-Benz component failed on the car. After that, he was talked into joining the Mercedes team by Niki Lauda. 

As for the eyebrow-endowed Spaniard, it's no secret that Alonso and Dennis' relationship deteriorated during that Hollywood-movie-worthy 2007 season. Where Alonso believed that the team preferred Hamilton. This all came to a point when Alonso blackmailed Dennis about the sensitive information from Ferrari about their car. It was Dennis himself who turned in McLaren to the FIA and got the immense fine and expulsion from the 2007 Constructor's Championship. Would Fernando Alonso go back to McLaren after that? Who knows. One thing is for sure, if Kimi Raikkonen can go back to Ferrari after he was thrown out then anything is possible. 

Two more names in the hat are Williams' Valtteri Bottas and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, who isn't having the best of times right now at Red Bull with his team mate Daniel Ricciardo smiling his way to being the best non-Mercedes as Vettel retires every other race. For Vettel to leave Red Bull it would be because he feels he needs a new challenge, and he'd get that at McLaren but he'd also get it at Ferrari, where he's been heavily linked to in the past. Vettel has said that he'd like to one emulate his hero Michael Schumacher and drive a red Ferrari but has also said that his favourite ever F1 car is a McLaren, the 1993 MP4/8 to be specific. 

As for Bottas, well his hero is Mika Hakkinen, who happens to be his manager. He drove for McLaren rather successfully. And it's not just him, plenty of Finnish drivers end up at McLaren at some point in their career and I'd imagine that driving for them one day would also appeal to Bottas. 

It's all conjecture without any real backup. I mean, Romain Grosjean has also been linked to McLaren because his manager is Eric Boullier, McLaren's Racing Director. That doesn't always mean that he'll get a drive there. I mean, Mark Webber's manager was Flavio Briatore and he never drove for Renault back in the 2000s.

The thing is, without any real sources to back it up, rumours are just that, rumours. Someone might go to McLaren or they might stick with Button and Magnussen. Who knows? I don't but maybe Eddie Jordan does.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

My top 10 games of the generation

With the new generation of games consoles out in the wild now, I'd thought it would be great to look back on the last eight (yes, EIGHT) years from when the Xbox 360 launched in November 2005. This is my personal list of the best games from this period, though it probably changes on a daily basis. I'm not even sure that this is in order of preference anyway. Nevertheless, here's the list:

Assassin's Creed 2

The first Assassin's Creed was an interesting idea but was a flawed game. It was far too repetitive and suffered from other problems like being a total borefest. However, the first sequel fixed that (this was before the series was miked dry). Gone was the dull-as-dish-water Altair and stepped in Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a typically charming and cool Italian chap would charisma oozing out his digitally crafted ears. The gameplay mechanics fixed up and there was much more varitey to the game including building and fixing up the Auditore estate and buying weapons and items. Also new was the inventions that you got to use from Leonardo Da Vinci, including his flying device and dual-blades, which allowed for twice the stabbing simultaneously. Assassin's Creed 2 was so good that I got the Platinum Trophy on PS3. Though that's not saying much, Assassin's Creed 2 is the most 'Platinumed' game on PS3. Plenty liked the game then, I'm not alone there.

Mass Effect

Ah Mass Effect, the space opera RPG from Canada's finest at BioWare. Originally an Xbox 360 exclusive published by Microsoft before the developer was cursed bought by everyone's favourite videogame publisher EA. The game has since been released on PC and later (much later, think five years) came out on the PlayStation 3. Mass Effect saw take on the role of Commander Shepard but you could customise your character to suit your tastes like in most RPG games. Unlike most RPGs however Mass Effect focused on gun combat with some space-age magical nonsense thrown in, instead of melee fighting and also had an incredibly difficult to control vehicle to drive called the MAKO. Anyway, the best thing about Mass Effect was the world BioWare had built, along with the characters. The way you interacted with them dictated the story that was told and you made decisions, some of which weren't easy. I bet you're thinking why do I prefer this one to either of the two sequels that have released since? Well, it's the only one I've played. Before you eat me, I will say this, I do have Mass Effect 2 and 3 but they're deep within the abyss of my backlog and I did play the Mass Effect 2 demo that came out and it felt more like a shooter with RPG elements instead of the first game which is more of the opposite. I would take a trilogy re-release on PS4 I'll say that much.

Gears of War

Another Microsoft published game in the form of Gears of War. Everyone remembers the 'Mad World' advert that came out to promote the game, no sound effects just Gary Jules singing the lyrics which gave the game footage (not actually in-game) a rather bleak look and feel since that song is proper depressing. Many would go and say that Gears of War was the first 'next-gen' game when it released back in 2006 and I would happen to agree with that. The game looked fantastic and had sold gameplay to go with it. Fluid animations with an excellent cover system along with a wide range of weapons which felt great to use. Gears of War also innovated in the realm of the reload, normally a few seconds to catch your breath while you wait to kill more stuff. In Gears of War, this could be a bit of a roulette since Epic Games introduced what is called Active Reload, a bar would appear where you had to press RB on the 360 controller when the moving line went in the highlighted zone. Get it right and the reload would be faster which also gave you a temporary power boost. Get it wrong and you'd be waiting longer to get back in the killing stuff mayhem. The first Gears of War is the best one because it has better feeling weapons than the second one. The mulitplayer is also better, as Gears of War 2's was completely broken. Horde mode was nice though. The story in the series is a joke though, but that's not why you play these games.

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift

PlayStation 3 launch title (in Europe) MotorStorm was a fun game but was far from perfect. The direct sequel, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, fixed pretty much every problem that I had with the first game and is probably one of the most underrated games on the PS3. First improvement over the first game was the menus. In the first game they were slow and it took ages to do anything. The second one was the sometimes iffy track design. Some of the tracks in Pacific Rift aren't that good but the overall sum of them add up to more than what the original game offered. Another thing was more variety in vehicles, well the monster truck fixed that, it's glorious. There were other things but they were minor things. Pacific Rift had better graphics, sounds and added extra depth to the boost mechanic, with heat coming off volcanic rock increasing the speed of the gauge's meter, giving you less boost. Contrast to that, there was water on track which cooled the boost gauge. Pacific Rift also had Trophies and custom soundtracks so you could race along to your favourite tunes. The racing in MotorStorm is very arcade-y but it so much fun and crazy as hell with quad bikes squaring up against big rigs. A total mis-match but that is what is great about MotorStorm, complete and utter lunacy. I hope the series continues on PS4.

Batman: Arkham Asylum 

Batman: Arkham Asylum. This game came from nowhere. I remember hearing about it but because most superhero games have been absolutely terrible, I never gave it a second look. That is until the demo came out just before the game did and it was surprising, but in a good way. No one has ever captured the character of Batman like London-based Rocksteady did in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Many groaned at the thought of a Batman game made by a no-name studio and wrote it off as another licensed cash-in. However, Batman: Arkham Asylum broke the mould. Starring Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as The Dark Knight and The Joker respectively, both of whom reprised their roles from the 90s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, Batman: Arkham Asylum captured the essence of Batman in a game that hadn't been done before.You get the gadgets, Detective Mode, which is seemingly what the game was based around. You also get the characters, all of which that are in this game are well done and are true to their comic roots. Arkham does have more recognisable faces but that makes the game feel less focused and bloated. Not that Arkham City isn't a bad game of course. I just think it's prequel (not Arkham Origins I've heard mixed things about that) is better.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2 is an amazing game, simple as that. It built upon the foundation set by the first game, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and took things further. With stunning visuals, top notch set-pieces and great gameplay of course, Uncharted 2 set the bar very high for the action adventure genre and there's a strong case for it still being at the summit. The reason why Uncharted 2 is so good is because it's a fast-paced and addicting to play game. It's not perfect but everything it does well it does better than anything that has come before it. I think to truly understand why it's here it has to be played. Another thing about Uncharted 2 is that the muliplayer modes no one asked for are actually quite good, which was a worry since many felt that Naughty Dog would comprimise the single player game but that wasn't the case. Never doubt Naughty Dog is what we learned from Uncharted 2 which is probably the best game they have produced since the Crash Bandicoot days. 

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Yes, a Call of Duty game made it onto my list and for good reason, Call of Duty 4 is a genuinely great game and is undoubtedly the best Call of Duty in the series. Of course, it's also partly responsible for the series being as it is as well but that's more down to Activision milking the cow (as well as firing the main people behind this one and Modern Warfare 2, read up on it if you want to know what happened). Anyway, Call of Duty 4 was a remarkable game when it launched in 2007. It had everything going for it, great looking (Call of Duty hasn't progressed much in this area but at the time, this was a looker), had great gameplay with best-in-class feel and was without the excessive perks and killstreak crap you find today and had the best map design which helped massively. It also had a great single player campaign too with one of the most iconic levels ever created in 'All ghillied up'. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the complete package that will never be beat by the shell that calls themselves Infinity Ward today.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Metal Gear Solid 4 was one of the main reasons I got the PS3 and it didn't disappoint this long-time fan of the MGS series. It was very ambitious and feature-packed and was full of nods and references to the past games. One whole part in particular did this, Act 4. In Act 4 you return to Shadow Moses and when you arrive once again the ending song from the first MGS 'The Best is Yet to Come' starts playing and soundbites from, well Twin Snakes the MGS1 remake, also make an appearance, making the memories flood back. For example, when you go up to the surveillance camera on the stairway the camera angle goes to the same as the original and the line 'A surveillance camera?' sounds off before the camera fall offs the wall and hits the floor. There are so many references that the series creator Hideo Kojima put in for fans that are just simply amazing and for that, it deserves recognition.

Fallout 3

The second RPG in this list is post-apocalyptic first/third person hybrid from Bethesda Softworks, known for their Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3 was their first in the series since they bought it off Interplay. The fact that two RPGs made this list when I'm not much of an RPG player says a lot about these games. It also says how I've become more willing to try out different games. Fallout 3 is set in Washington DC and stars a vault-dweller (Vaults are basically shelters from when the nuclear apocalypse hit) who escapes and ventures into the wasteland and into all kings of wacky and incredible things. Fallout's success is with it's world building. The art is inspired by 1950s vision of the future with many pieces of artwork in and about the game harkening back to that time period of post-WW2 America. The game has many things in an RPG that you'd expect: XP. leveling up, perks dialog trees, choices to be made and companions that follow you on your quest. However, Fallout 3 can be played like an FPS game but the mechanics there aren't as strong as they could be. Luckily, there's the VATS (Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System). This was a system which paused gameplay and let you target a specific area of an enemy to hit. I felt it worked better for an RPG. There's much more to the game and that's why it's here, despite the bugginess, which it definitely was.

The Last of Us

Another Naughty Dog game and a game from the last year. The Last of Us is how you do story telling in video games, it has set the bar that high. With top-notch voice acting from everyone but special mention has to go to Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson who voice main characters Joel and Ellie, The Last of Us showed everyone that a new IP this late on into a console's life can succeed right before the next console hits. The Last of Us is the opposite of Uncharted in that is has a downbeat tone, slow guitar soundtrack and atmosphere, appropriate given the theme of the game is survival at all costs. The story is also about the bonding of Joel and Ellie since the latter is intially referred to as 'the package', an object, but as the game progresses they become like father and daughter which climaxes with the end of the game. I won't spoil it since it's still a recent game but if you have played it and got that far then you'll know what I'm on about. The Last of Us gets rid of the regenerating health and traversal mechanics of Uncharted and brings in a crafting system and a less mobile style of movement with a focus on sound and stealth. The crafting system in particular adds a layer of depth since the same materials that make a health pack also make a molotov cocktail. There's a lot that can be said for this game but it never beats playing it for yourself. The same goes for all of these games I've listed. 

That's the list of games I feel are the best from this last console generation. There are some honourable mentions: God of War 3, Grand Theft Auto 5, Gran Turismo 6, Killzone 2, Vanquish, Bayonetta, Halo 3, amongst others.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Favourite F1 cars

I thought about doing this for a while and now I've decided to because why not, everyone likes a list of favourite things. This is based around F1 cars obviously. There may be a case of bias here as someone who has a favourite team, McLaren if you didn't know. However, you can appreciate cars from other teams. These cars are not necessarily championship-winning cars, they don't have to be.

Without further ado, in no particular order...

BrawnGP BGP 001

Well what can you say, you could make a movie about the story of BrawnGP, the team who rose from the ashes of Honda (rather ironic given recent events with Mercedes and McLaren) and almost never made it to the grid but went on to win both championships in its first and only season. The car itself was fabulous, it had an air of nostalgia about it with the minimal livery. It was fast too, with the shoehorned Mercedes-Benz engine in it, the BrawnGP 001 won seven out of the first nine races with Jenson Button behind the wheel, who became F1 Driver's Champion that year and also won the Constructor's Championship with teammate Rubens Barrichello. 

Interesting fact: Jenson Button himself owns the car, only three were made and Rubens used the spare one, as it was in his contract that he would get it if he became champion. There was a bit of an argument between Jenson and team buyers Mercedes, who said that he couldn't have it because he visited McLaren whilst still under contract. Jenson disputed this and in the end got the car. It was the oldest car on the grid when Jenson became champion.

McLaren MP4/13

The 1998 McLaren MP4/13 was a stunning car. In West colours and driven by Finland's Mika Hakkinen and Scottish chin master David Coulthard, the MP4/13 won both Championships with Mika winning his first World Championship, seeing off Ferrari and Michael Schumacher in the process. This was McLaren's first Constructor's Championship since 1991. The MP4/13 also holds the record at the Goodwood hillclimb. In 1999, Nick Heidfeld set the record at 41.6 seconds.

Lotus Type 72

The Lotus Type 72 is from an era when cars were carried over from one season to the next. The Type 72 was designed by Lotus founder Colin Chapman and powered by a Cosworth engine. In 1970 season, the Type 72 was introduced and helped Austrian Jochen Rindt lead the championship. However, during the Italian GP at Monza, Rindt was killed in a crash during qualifying. Emerson Fittipaldi was brought in and helped Lotus secure the Constuctor's Championship, and also Rindt the Driver's Championship, the first posthumous World Champion. In '71 the car struggled but in '72, with the now-iconic black and gold John Player Special livery, Fittipaldi won his first World Championship. 1973 saw more race wins and another Constructor's title, but retirements saw Fittipaldi lose his crown to Jackie Stewart before leaving for McLaren.

Williams FW25

The Williams BMW partnership was a strong one, and in 2003, was competing for the title. It didn't win, nothing could stop the all-conquering Ferrari team. The FW25 won four races with Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher. Marc Gene replaced Ralf at the Italian Grand Prix after being involved in a testing accident. The reason why I like this car is that Williams were at their best for some time and with BMW were the strongest challengers to Ferrari for a short time, along with McLaren-Mercedes. The FW25 got Williams to second in the Constructor's Championship in 2003.

McLaren MP4/6

1991 saw Ayrton Senna win his third and final Driver's Championship in the Honda-powered McLaren MP4/6. Senna won the first four races including his home race in Brazil before Nigel Mansell and Williams hit top form. Senna and McLaren held on to win both titles and was the last time McLaren and Honda won together, at least before they re-unite in 2015. Senna is one of the greats and it's easy to say that it was he and not the car that won but F1 is a team effort, McLaren and Honda worked hard to halt the Williams.

Williams FW14B

Speaking of which, Williams lost out to McLaren in '91 but a year later, broke the Woking-based team's dominance on F1, with mustache extraordinaire Nigel Mansell winning the Championship in some fashion. The Williams-Renault FW14B was so dominant that it was often two seconds a lap faster than the next car. Adrian Newey designed a truly remarkable car, so much so, that the FW15 was available but was never used. In total, the FW14 won 17 races in 32 and Mansell wrapped up the title in '92 by winning nine races out of 16.

This next car is probably my favourite F1 car ever...

McLaren MP4-20

2005 saw a close Championship between two teams, McLaren and Renault. Kimi Raikkonen was up against Fernando Alonso for the Driver's Championship  The McLaren MP4-20 was faster than the Renault R25 but the Mercedes-Benz engine was unreliable and cost McLaren both titles. The reason why I love this car so much was when not blowing up, Kimi was able to pull off some incredible displays, getting pole at Monza with a full tank of fuel before getting a 10 place grid drop because he changed his engine. Then there was Suzuka, where after qualifying 17th, stormed through the field to win the race. The MP4-20 is also notable for achieving the highest speed ever recorded for an F1 car during a race. At Monza, race winner Juan Pablo Montoya hit over 231mph when he won the race. The MP4-20 is a car that deserves to be remembered as a great F1 car.

And yes, the MP4-20 is the car in the blog background.

I think that's the list, there could be more but these are the top ones for me. I noticed there are no Ferrari's on the list. That's mostly because of the dominant Schumacher era which was a dull, red blur.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Different approach, same goal. Xbox One and PS4.

In case you didn't know somehow, Microsoft has finally lifted the lid on it's latest 'console', the Xbox One. Let's start by saying how much of a stupid name that is. Going from Xbox 360 to Xbox One just seems illogical and will cause confusion because people refer to the original Xbox as Xbox 1.

The Xbox One with the Kinect camera, which is mandatory to even function the damn thing.
Now, it was expected that Microsoft would take the 'own the living room' stance, which is focusing on media functionality as well as games. The problem with that is that you may end up focusing too much on things which no one cares about, or has limited availability. Guess what? Yep, many of the features Microsoft will be putting out will only be available to the US, at least initially. Things such as the Live TV, where you can see a TV guide or cable box, will only be able to be used in the US at launch. Also, something which wasn't mentioned was the fact that an HDMI supported receiver is needed to even use the functionality. Kind of shoots the Xbox One's mantra down doesn't it?

Most of the reveal conference was about TV, with the announcement of a Halo TV show with input from Steven Spielberg and a deal with the NFL, which I can't imagine will be huge deal outside of North America. Kinect was also a big focus and is coming with every system sold. With all the gesture and voice commands you can pull off, if the thing recognises them that is, then you will be able to control the Xbox One without pressing a single button. I guess Microsoft think that pressing buttons is hard.

Microsoft showcasing the Xbox One's interface, which looks very similar  to the one currently found on the Xbox 360.

Speaking of buttons, Microsoft did show the new controller which looks to be a cross between the original Xbox controller and the one including with the 360. It now has a rechargeable battery included and has 40 different features and changes. It can also be seen in the picture above.

There were games shown, but no live gameplay demos which is a bit odd. EA came on stage to announce a new game engine called Ignite and then proceed to show us footage of Madden, FIFA, NHL and UFC which I'm guessing very little was gameplay footage, if any at all. Also shown was Forza Motorsport 5, said to be representative of gameplay footage but I'm not so sure. Forza 5 is confirmed to be a launch title. Another game shown was Quantum Break, which is a new IP developed by Max Payne and Alan Wake creators Remedy. It was a teaser and more will be shown at E3 for sure.

Also unveiled was Call of Duty: Ghosts, which looks like Call of Duty. They talked about how the new consoles can bring the series forward but it looks eerily similar to what has come before. Activision did a comparison to Modern Warfare 3 and there are improvements but you have to remember that this game is coming out on the 360 and PS3 too so it won't be a massive improvement. It looks to be using the same old game engine too, which was first used with Quake 3 many moons ago.

To me, this looks like Microsoft trying to do something which is unnecessary since a lot of these features are novelties at best and don't improve the current products out there. Also, it's apparent that Microsoft are after an increasingly outdated vision, a vision where everyone and everything is surrounded by one large TV. Many households have multiple TVs, not to mention phones and tablets which can access the internet. It all seems a bit redundant.

Contrast this to the PS4 announcement, which didn't show a console but did show Sony's approach, games. It also showed that Sony has learned from the mistakes that it made with the PS3, with using much simpler architecture, the same as the Xbox One it should be pointed out, 8GB of GDDR 5 RAM, the Xbox One also has 8GB of RAM but it is the much slower GDDR 3 type.

It's clear Sony have focused on making the PS4 a games console, first and foremost. That might not seem much but when it's the gaming enthusiasts that are the first to buy your system this is important. Of course, Sony will have non-gaming features such as movie and TV streaming since the PS3 is the most used platform for Netflix and Blu-ray obviously. They sent out this message with live gameplay demos of new IPs Knack and DriveClub, a new Killzone in the form of Shadow Fall, inFamous Second Son. Third parties were represented with Watch_Dogs from Ubisoft, Destiny from Halo creators Bungie and a tech demo called Deep Down from Capcom, as well as appearances from Epic Games, Square Enix and Blizzard.

Killzone: Shadow Fall gameplay screenshot

No doubt both will show new games at E3 but it's the long game here. The 360 will have been out for around 8 years when the Xbox One launches and the PS3 will have been out for 7 years at the PS4 launch, or there about. It seems odd that Microsoft are focusing on something that is seemingly becoming less and less integral to how we consume media, whereas Sony is fulling embracing the multiplatform way of modern technology by bringing PlayStation to mobile devices through streaming by Gaikai, the company Sony acquired last year. At least, that's the vision. I mean, who wants to browse the internet in the corner of your TV screen when watching a movie? Microsoft thinks you do, while paying for Xbox Live Gold too no less, when you have a phone or tablet or even fridge (I'm not joking by the way) which connects to the internet already.

If all else fails, use this scientific graph to determine which is best. ;)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

McLaren. What is going on at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes? (they won't be called that for much longer)

McLaren had a pretty good end to the 2012 season. They won the last two races to end a mixed year, with the loss of Lewis Hamilton to the Mercedes works team. Now, we know that title sponsor Vodafone are ending their relationship with the team which began in 2007, the year Hamilton made his debut in F1. The reason for this is unclear but I do believe that Hamilton's exit swayed Vodafone. This sponsorship deal was big money to McLaren and losing that deal must be a blow. However, McLaren have announced that a replacement will announced on December 2nd and Hamilton's replacement, Sergio Perez, is backed by a company called Telmex. Telemex is part-owned by a man named Carlos Slim, who is the world's richest man, with a fortune of $73 billion. Can anyone say Telmex McLaren Honda?

As for Honda, well, as I've written in a previous post, are rumoured to be returning to F1 as an engine supplier, in 2015 if reports are accurate. If true, this would mean McLaren sticking with Mercedes next year. What this could mean is McLaren reverse engineering the Mercedes engine with Honda and finding out it's pros and cons. Mercedes have insisted that they will protect themselves from something like this but I'm not sure how they could stop it if McLaren do use them.

Back to this season, it has been, in a word, shambolic. McLaren have been painfully slow and all pre-season optimism has evaporated into thin air. This was surprising given their end of season form last year and the promise they showed at the first pre-season test. The problem is apparently the new push rod suspension system, which is similar to the one Ferrari had trouble with last season.

Sergio Perez driving the McLaren MP4-28.
Will McLaren fix this issue? Possibly. They have three weeks until the Chinese Grand Prix and should be spending it finding why the car is so slow compared to its nearest rivals. McLaren will recover from setbacks, it's in their history.

When Honda pulled out of F1 in the early 90s, after struggling with Cosworth and Peugeot, McLaren recovered. After losing the West sponsorship McLaren came back and they will after losing Vodafone, Mercedes and Hamilton. If they don't then Martin (I can't stop making excuses) Whitmarsh should be fired. Teams have a tendency of bouncing back after losing their Vodafone sponsorship anyway. In 2007, Ferrari's ex-McLaren man Kimi Raikkonen beat the dueling bitch-fest between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton by 1 point. In the same year, Manchester United came back from 3 years of not winning the Premier League to reclaim their crown, after switching from Vodafone to AIG. Maybe McLaren can make it a hat-trick in 2014?