Grand Prix Driver (2018) s01e01 Episode Script

Change is in the Air

McLaren, one of the greatest
teams in FORMULA ONE,
has allowed
unprecedented access
throughout their
2017 pre-season.
It's a race against time
to build a car
I've never seen it
as bad as this.
for a global launch
We will win again.
and testing in
Drive straight out.
with their drivers,
two-time world champion
Fernando Alonso
To win three
world championships,
that's my first
and only priority.
and rookie
Stoffel Vandoorne
WOMAN: Push,
push, push, push, push!
STOFFEL: It's been a dream
for me to be in FORMULA ONE
and to race for McLaren.
in the most momentous
in the team's history.
McLaren Racing
has been successful
over 50 years.
In 1980, Ron Dennis came in
as Chief Executive to
this business.
Ron's contribution has been
more than outstanding.
The McLaren Technology Centre
is the house that Ron built.
Ron has instilled
in every one of us,
the core values
and the mythology
of this organisation.
McLaren is still the second
most successful team
in FORMULA ONE history,
behind Ferrari.
In 2012, we won seven races,
2013 we won none,
and it's been
a lean period since then.
JONATHAN: In 2015,
McLaren formed
the partnership with Honda
to give us that
championship-winning status.
JOHN: Ron said to me once,
there is a budget
to compete in FORMULA ONE,
which typically can be
anywhere around £90 million
and to be competitive
is about another £100 million
on top of that.
REPORTER: There has been a
poisonous boardroom situation
for some months now.
Mr Dennis, at the moment,
is on gardening leave.
Those close to him tell me
he's taken this
pretty badly, indeed.
He feels he's been betrayed
by his own family as it were.
Something potentially of
a power vacuum,
at the moment, at this team.
The board does not
renew Ron Dennis's contract
with McLaren.
After 37 years, he is out.
David, if you could bring
everything up to my office,
cos I'm gonna change out
of these clothes.
In a change from the past,
the day-to-day running
of McLaren
will no longer be by one man,
but by a team of
three executives
working under
the shareholders.
We finished at
3:30 last night.
ZAK BROWN: Really?
Great support from
Shaikh Mohammed and Mansour
all through, which is good.
-They were on speed dial?
Constantly available,
which is good. Yeah.
JONATHAN: Zak brings
a wealth of experience,
commercially, in FORMULA ONE.
He's been the go-to guy
for sponsorship for
many of the FORMULA ONE teams
for over a decade.
He's a former race driver,
he's been a fan of McLaren,
and he complements us
as a team.
ZAK: There's been something
like 120 race teams
in the last 30-plus years
that have come and gone,
so it's an expensive sport.
If you don't have a lot of
backing, you can go bust.
Jonathan and I
are attached at the hip.
He's more technical,
I'm more commercial.
Eric runs the racing team.
His primary responsibility is
to get the most out of
the drivers.
Ca va bien?
ALONSO: What I want
to achieve now is a third
World Championship.
To win three World
Championships will mean that
you win the same of Ayrton,
first of all,
and then,
on the personal side,
after difficult years
and difficult seasons,
if yougo through
those moments and you win it,
I think
a third World Championship
will have more value for me
on the personal side
than the first
and the second.
-See you later.
Every year,
each FORMULA ONE team
builds a new car.
This year's McLaren MCL32
will be built with
13,500 brand-new parts,
each of which is meticulously
designed and fabricated.
The first two or three days
are always quite difficult,
because it's when we find out
what shortages we've got,
what parts we need.
It just gets very frustrating.
You're trying to build a car
and there's one bit
that'll be stopping you.
You need to juggle those parts.
First day at McLaren
as official race driver.
I know it's one of the nicest
buildings in FORMULA ONE.
And you know when you walk
along the boulevard
with all
the historic cars here,
it's a very special feeling.
Hopefully, one day
my car will be here as well.
It's seat fitting,
getting the first impressions
of next year's car.
I always like seat-fit day.
Feels like it's all
starting again.
-It's good.
Only three more months
to go before
before getting in the car,
People always say,
"Oh, you must be on holiday,
the season's finished."
But for design,
we're flat out
from September
to February, really.
MATT BISHOP: Do you remember
how it all started?
-2010, so you were--
No, no, no, 2010.
-The very first--
-No, 2010.
No, 2011 is when you first
went to the race.
-The Nurburgring Grand Prix.
-Do you remember?
-Yes, yes. Oh, yeah, 2010.
-Yes, thank you!
I met Stoffel five years ago.
So, Stoffel Vandoorne
takes the race win
with a blinding drive.
The 20-year-old Belgian
produced a fantastic start,
as he overtook ten opponents.
MATT BISHOP: He has won
in six separate categories
prior to FORMULA ONE,
and I was very proud
to be able to introduce him
to Ron Dennis.
How well he will do
this year,
is not down to him,
it's down to us.
If we give him a car good
enough, he'll do good enough.
What do we have in terms of
spacer? Nothing now.
There is your, just,
the same spacer that
you've got on it currently.
Is it possible to have
a medium spacer?
I think Fernando's
is too much
-but like
-something in-between?
There's a 5mm in there
at the moment.
-And what
-Fernando's is, like, 50mm?
-Fernando's is
-Not great.
-Right, try that there.
Yeah. It's OK.
-About 10?
-Yeah? That's fine.
SCOTT: If you're driving
and you can constantly feel
something niggling,
you're, kind of, "Ooh!"
all the time.
You're gonna be
pulling off the gas,
you're gonna be
lifting earlier,
you're not gonna be
concentrating on
taking that corner at
exactly the right point.
You're gonna be
in discomfort.
So, getting
that environment right
and getting the driver happy
so that he's not worried
about anything in that zone,
he can concentrate on what
he actually needs to do.
Hungry, eh? (LAUGHS)
MATT WELLS: The part of
the seat fit we start with is
making sure you get the head
position in the right place,
to make sure they can see.
We spend a lot of time trying
to reduce head position for
reduction in aerodynamic drag
and reduction of
the whole centre of gravity
of the driver.
Once you've got his head
in the right place,
then, depending on
how tall he is,
that really sets
his pedal position.
Normally, as soon as
your heel loses pressure,
you'll lose control
and then you start
getting oscillations.
Following that, we go through
and check things like
for elbow clearance
and knuckle clearance.
Once you have
those key areas,
you can start looking at
the seat
and you can mould the seat
around him.
Scott. Scott.
How many years have
you been doing seat fits?
While Stoffel
has his seat fit,
the car's colour scheme
and design, or livery,
is currently being worked on
by the marketing department.
Ron Dennis was known for
his orderly leadership
of McLaren.
The team's liveries
projected those principles
with clean
monochromatic lines
that looked to the future.
The 2017 season was
clearly a kind of a marker,
a line in the sand
at which we wanted
to message to the world
that something different
was going on at McLaren.
One of the key ways
we can do that
is to show a new livery,
a new look for the team,
that references
some of our heritage.
I zeroed in on the colour
orange as being critical
in our history,
but nonetheless shows a
completely new look and feel,
and a spirit that we see
in the team for 2017.
The dramatic unveil
for you now, erm
So this is the 2012 car
with the new livery on it.
matte to gloss makes
the orange pop out more.
Yeah, it does and I think
we can put a tiny bit of
metallic flake in there, too.
So, effectively,
this is a giant,
a giant sort of speedmark
logo wrapped round.
-That's where we've got to.
JOHN: But I think
it's gonna be pretty sexy
by the time
we're running it for real.
MOHAMMED: McLaren has
a rich, rich history,
and this is a new chapter
and we're all
well, everyone the whole
team, is working very hard.
We wanna get on
with writing it.
Yeah, exactly. It's good.
-Great. That was fruitful.
-OK, take care.
-Thank you.
-Thank you, everyone.
Cheers, Mohammed,
good to see you.
The design department will
now mock up last year's car
to demonstrate the full
impact of the new livery.
STOFFEL: You actually
work very closely with
your engineers.
My engineer, Tom,
we started working
very intensely together,
spent a lot of time
in the factory and started
preparing for next year.
The race engineer's
the driver's number-one
technical point of contact
at the company.
So, every time he wants
to know what upgrades
are coming,
how we're going to use them,
what we're going to do
with our strategy,
then that goes though me
to Stoffel.
"Steering Wheel", it'll tell
you what all the buttons do.
You can go through and read
in detail what they all do.
But the main one,
probably, for you is
to go down to the bottom,
and click on this one
called "Interactive".
Then click on the buttons
and it'll tell you what
the button does.
STOFFEL: Uh-huh. Fast!
DAREN: Yeah.
And also it's got
Where possible it's got
the light display.
-Ah, yeah.
TOM: It isn't to say this is
what you have to have.
This is what we have now,
and if you get back to us,
we can change
pretty much anything.
But it's yours now, so
this is just the start point.
That's how you
should think of it.
DAREN: Right, we'd better
dash or we'll be late.
Hello, we're just coming.
TOM STALLARD: The simulator's
used almost entirely for
car preparation rather
than driver preparation.
And you're good to go.
TOM: Basically,
a computer programme that
models exactly
how the car moves.
TOM: It's got a full model of
the aerodynamics of the car
that's developed from
the wind tunnel.
TOM: You get a feel from
watching the data of
how he's driving,
how things are going.
a technical point of view,
I know everything
about the cars,
how they're put together,
how you need to set them up.
TOM: We've had a fairly
reasonable day today,
in the simulator.
We've mainly been looking at
front and rear stiffness.
You can see some data
up there.
That's the fastest lap of
the day,
which was a 1:19.97,
so we just dipped under 1:20
which was nice.
STOFFEL: Since the first run
this morning,
it felt like the car was much
more on the edge than
than the previous time.
We are lacking a bit of
rear rear stability.
is the big step up.
You know, you are working
with so many people.
It's suddenly very different
working with
a whole factory behind you,
because you have a massive
influence on car development.
Yeah, if you turn in a bit
too aggressive sometimes
with light brake pressure,
the car sometimes
just comes around.
TOM: A comment you often hear
a driver say is that
it feels like the car is
falling over at the rear,
and when you look
in the data,
it's rolled by an extra
0.1, 0.2 degrees
and you think, "Oh, that
can't be what he's feeling",
but, sure enough, it is.
When you dig into it,
he's feeling incredibly small
movements in the car,
so a very unusual
level of sensitivity.
Just as football sponsors
pay big money
for prominent space
on a team's shirts,
title sponsors do the same
Advertising space on a car
can be sold to sponsors
for anything up to
$100 million a year.
McLaren hasn't had
a title sponsor since 2013,
reportedly costing
the team $200 million
in potential revenue.
-Hello, there.
-That's a big change.
-That's different. Cool.
It's crucial that
Executive Director Zak Brown
is happy with the new livery.
It's his job to sell space on
the new car.
ERIC: The matte is brilliant.
Thank you, mate.
That's why I was asking.
for you, then, the issue is
colour scheme on branding?
I really don't want any black
on the car here.
No, it's a perception issue,
and the right people to do
that are you, John Allert
and you guys.
You know, you're the
you're the brand
and the image people.
All-righty back to work.
ZAK: Sponsorship probably
accounts for about half
your budget.
North of 100 million is the
type of sponsorship dollars
that you need to bring in,
to be at the front of
the field.
That's an area that
we have fallen behind in,
so I think that was certainly
right at the top of the list
of "What can Zak bring
to the table?"
If you look at
who wins races,
it's the biggest spenders
in the sport.
So, if we don't bring in more
sponsorship then, ultimately,
that will compromise
our on-track success.
ZAK: Today, we're celebrating
our partnership with
Richard Mille,
who's just
developed and launched
a beautiful special edition
McLaren watch.
A million euros for those of
you that would like to
purchase one.
It's something that
the drivers will wear
when they're racing,
so it's gonna be on them
all of the time.
It's not something that
they're gonna use
on an occasional basis.
So are you quite happy with
all of the information I sent
in terms, like,
about the partnership,
about the watch?
-I've seen the price of it.
-The price?
-I've seen it.
JOHN: Stoffel is savvy enough
now to realise that
there is no such thing
as just driving a car.
The more really rich
partnerships you can forge
with big brands,
the more money we've got
to make a fast car
and someone like Stoffel
just wants a fast car.
Bonjour, Stoffel.
Tu vas bien?
-Tutto bene.
-Ca va?
Regarde ta voiture.
-His car.
-You're a Grand Prix driver,
you don't even have to dress
fancy anymore.
Exactly. (CHUCKLES)
No suits.
It's a long-term relationship
because we signed
a ten-years contract.
So, it's a relationship that
will be year after year
re-enforced, I'm sure.
The multi-million dollar
Richard Mille sponsorship deal
will help drive forward
McLaren's ambitions.
But Zak still has to find
a title sponsor.
ZAK: The benefit of getting
someone like Stoffel
early on,
is you can mould him,
which gives you
a little bit of a chance
to try and make him
a McLaren man.
As part of creating
a brand around Stoffel,
the marketing team must
present their new McLaren man
to the world's media.
We've basically worked out
his schedule
between now and Australia,
and there are zero days,
so we've crammed in as
much media as we can.
Well, come on, then.
Come on, then!
Your official title now is
driver, not reserve driver.
Who was the first person
you then told?
ErmI probably told my mum
first and my dad.
So, yeah, I think they've
been very supportive of me
in the past and, yeah,
to inform them first was
was, kind of, the logical
thing to do, for me.
Does it add to the pressure
the fact that
you are not just gonna
have to prove yourself
in your first season
but the fact that you're
driving against Fernando
in the same car?
Fernando, Lewis,
these are the kinds of people
who in essence have the
licence to be more authentic
and a little bit more edgy in
the way they communicate
with the rest of the world.
What's your relationship like
with Fernando?
I have a very good
relationship with Fernando.
Yeah, I mean, I get on
very well with Fernando.
JOHN: I think
younger drivers,
the likes of Stoffel,
are quite sensibly staying
reasonably cautious
in just how flamboyant
they are trying to be
as characters.
I'm obviously very happy
to join McLaren Honda.
For me it it's always been
a bit of a dream
to race for McLaren.
You know, it's always been
a dream for me to be
CHARLOTTE: Six minutes,
six minutes.
Fernando Alonso is
a double world champion.
Fernando is
a double world champion.
A great benchmark for me.
A very good benchmark
next to me.
-Good. Cheers.
-Awesome, thank you so much.
-Cheers. No worries. Thanks.
AMANDA: Stoffel is an older
young driver, isn't he?
I think 24.
So Stoffel has been around
and he's had to answer those
questions in recent years.
"Is it too late?
Are you too old
to be given your break?"
And a lot of people would
have given up on their dream.
I don't know what
his prospects are. (LAUGHS)
It's gonna be tough.
I think the big challenge
for Stoffel is
he's got to be seen to be
giving Fernando
a run for his money,
because if Fernando outraces
him, out-qualifies him,
then it's hard to argue
that he deserves his place.
OK, then we go back.
We have another three.
So last group for the three,
two, ones.
You can decide however
you want to use
your 15 minutes, guys.
PETER: Perfect.
-It's up to you.
We found in our archives
the very first article
of you.
-The very first?
-Look at you. My dream!
STOFFEL: Oh, yes,
I remember it.
It was your father who came
every week to the newspapers,
-"Look what my son has done."
STOFFEL: Oh, really?
"Publish it, publish it."
So every week he was there.
-From your father.
My dad. I didn't remember
it was my dad.
Yeah. Just look at it, guys.
A bit younger,
plenty of talent.
STOFFEL: A bit chubby.
Everything has a beginning.
STOFFEL: I was about
six years old, I think.
Back then, I was just
obsessed with everything
that had competition in it.
I just wanted to compete.
That's where I found
a way to actually do that
every evening.
STOFFEL: Deep down, I wanted
to be a FORMULA ONE driver,
but it seemed
just so far away.
Maybe something impossible.
When you start racing,
you never know if you're
gonna get there, yes or no.
JONATHAN: I just saw the car
in this blizzard of debris.
I thought I was going in
to lock everything down.
I thought it was at that
moment where we got
a really big one here.
And we're gonna have
to freeze data for
You know, just horrific.
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