As much as I am happy with the result for the American Haas F1 team’s 5th in the championship, I am a little like Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul in that I was expecting McLaren to be the team taking Renault to task for the best-of-the-rest this year.
“I am a bit surprised having to fight against Haas for most of the season when I was expecting it to be against McLaren.
“Let’s remember last year, when we announced McLaren, everybody told me ‘you are crazy, you are going to be beaten by your customers’.
“We were very close to being beaten by a team that is a very new team, a young team, younger even than us, with a very different set up.”
For McLaren, the move from Honda to Renault’s power units was expected to get the team off of the back of the grid and shoved forward to compete with the midfield and at least the Renault works team. That didn’t happen.
When I interviewed Zak Brown just before the 2018 season started, his expectation was to move forward and hopefully take the fight to Renault but he remained realistic about challenging Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes.
Unfortunately, an elusive and foundational aerodynamic issue with their chassis became an untenable hurdle to leap and the car’s performance waned as other teams developed their cars during the course of the season.
One would be forgiven for thinking that if they had the same power unit at the Renault works team, then surely McLaren would build a chassis capable of competing with them as they have the same amount of shove in the back of the car but that wasn’t the case. Tragically McLaren missed the chassis performance element and fell behind not only Renault but Haas F1 as well.
This left another miserable season for Fernando Alonso and McLaren fans wondering what the team needs to do in order to be competitive. Fair warning, however, as even if they had a chassis to rival and possibly beat Renault, Renault themselves are using and providing a power unit that is still woefully down on power to compete against Mercedes.
Hat Tip: Autosport