Panic at McLaren

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McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh says that this year’s poor performance was possibly due to an overreaction to the 2012 dip in performance and the notion of a radical change needed to stay competitive. AUTOSPORT has the call:

“We were looking at our development last year, we had a reasonable car, and then it did not respond in development terms.

“Every week you are delivering 1.5-2 points of downforce and when you go for a six week period of not doing that, you start to worry.

“It was maybe at that time that the engineer team thought maybe our progress is horizontal and we need to break out of here.”

“We got ourselves panicked into a horrible position in Melbourne where we were nailing the car’s ride height on a bumpy circuit and going in the wrong direction,” said Whitmarsh.

“We took a car that wasn’t good enough and made it worse in my opinion, to be frank about it.

 

It’s an interesting notion considering the McLaren MP4-27 was arguably the quickest car in 2012 yet apparently didn’t respond well to development. Probably not the fits McLaren MP4-something-or-other that didn’t like change but with that, it is odd that McLaren, having surely cross these challenges int eh past, chose to create an all-new chassis for 2013.

Whitmarsh says it was a bit of a panic and to be honest, I would have placed the team from Woking beyond the “panic” stages of good design and clear-headed Formula 1 strategy. The team delivered a stillborn car in the MP4-18 back in 2003. We aren’t talking about ancient history here and they chose to use the 2002 MP4-17D (an evolution of the 2002 chassis) to contest the season.

Many wonder why the team didn’t revert to a 2012 chassis especially when the tire construction was changed mid-season in 2013 but surely there are reasons that prevented that as an option that go beyond simply saving face. This team is so good that it defies logic they missed the boat on the design and in turn, missed the opportunity to be what I credit as one of the best teams in mid-season development.

With such radical changes slated for the 2014 season, it is interesting that the team chose to create an all-new 2013 chassis as surely this was always going to be a one off occasion or was it? Some suggest the team created a 2013 chassis that was now set for 2014 development and would be the baseline for their future efforts favoring the 2014 regulations. Wishful thinking? I guess we’ll find out in 2014.

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