Team Brawn GP has been somewhat of a revelation this off-season with the fastest testing times and shocking pace. this amid their turmoil of being sold and what the media insinuated as the razor’s edge of existence. There has been speculation that they are “exploiting” the testing session for a sponsor-impressing run and that they are running on fumes and without the weight of a KERS system but irrespective; they are fast. This has prompted praise, caution and prediction from within the paddock including drivers, teams and team principles. It has also exposed what seems to be a serious issue with a lack of pace for McLaren.
Speaking on the issue Martin Whitmarsh, team boss, has fessed up to the reality and addressed it head on telling the Guardian:
“I don’t think we have done a good enough job, there is no point hiding from that face – we just have to get our heads down and work hard to fix it. We will rectify the problem as quickly as we can, even though that might not be as quickly as we would like,”
I’m generally not one to throw in the towel before the season starts and given that this is McLaren we are talking about, I reserve my condemnation as they are fully capable of springing forward in development. But I do think things are serious. Serious enough to have some emergency meetings and sort out what is going on.
Things have become very interesting with Stefano Domenicali suggesting that Brawn GP had an advantage with the new regulations as McLaren and Ferrari spent the last year to the last race developing their 2008 car while Honda F1/Brawn GP gave up on theirs and spent the majority of 2008 working on the 2009 car. That may be true but they suffered immensely in 2008 because of it. They also had to bolt a new lump on the back of their car and make that work. The same lump that seems to lack shove for the McLaren I might add. Could this mean that Ross Brawn, the master tactician, may have just raised the bar and re-ignited the Ferrari magic under his own label?
Time will tell but i suspect BMW, Toyota and Ferrari may be competitive in Oz. The bigger question is if McLaren is not, how long will it take them to get competitive and how man points will it cost them? Pedro De Larosa should be the most critical element they have right now knowing the cars and how to develop them. Better than Lewis or Heikki.