On the latest podcast, we were talking about the 2018 season in review and how McLaren got it wrong with their chassis and tried to make compromises to seek performance. I asked the question, “when was the last team who discovered a serious chassis issue and decided to build an all-new chassis for the balance of the season”?
Thanks for the answers from our listeners. Today’s news was equally interesting in that, like McLaren, Williams found themselves with a dodgy chassis and yet did not build a new one for 2018. I can’t blame them, that’s very expensive to do, no doubt.
However, what did it cost them in prize money finishing dead last? I am sure Claire and the team would have done the math(s) and finding the cash to build a new car mid-season would have paid dividends that would be offset by prize money due to finishing higher up the grid, they may have done it. Then again, nothing is a sure thing in F1.
The reason is that Claire feels that even if they had triple the budget, they may not have cured their woes.
“I think the problems were related to the global car, if you like – we’ve had issues front to back,” Claire told Autosport.
“So to try and make changes to bring performance to a car that was like that was always going to be difficult.
“We tried and we tried hard. It wasn’t through a lack of hard work, energy, motivation, I suppose it was just the flaws were too fundamental to rectify halfway through a season.
“I think even regardless of the amount of budget we could have thrown at it – we threw a lot of budget at it, even if we had tripled it I’m not convinced we would have changed its course.”
She is speaking, I assume, of the budget for in-season development but I’m curious if a new chassis would have been remotely affordable. I doubt it but I don’t see their P&L so it is difficult to know beyond supposition on my part.
It’s an odd situation and one that has plagued more than just Williams. McLaren had the same issue as did Renault with their engines and chassis or even Haas and Force India. Trying to develop what you have and the budget needed to do so.
Both McLaren and Williams chose to try to develop their way out of trouble and back into pace but it would suggest to me that the fundamental flaw was so elemental to the overall package that a new chassis may have been the best option if the teams could have afforded it.
I say that and it’s easy to say but the FIA regulations come in to play there and a new chassis would have the be certified and approved by the regulatory body and I can’t recall if it requires team approval or not. If it does, you can imagine no team would vote to approve.
Fact is, it’s easy for me to wax poetic about creating a new car mid-season but the realities are such that doing so would be incredibly difficult if not impossible. What McLaren and Williams had to do is make the best of their recalcitrant cars and that’s no easy task.
Hat Tip: Autosport