Jenson Button, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

McLaren aim to find a second with “dramatic changes” to car

2011 Australian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jenson Button, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011
Jenson Button, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says the team have made “dramatic changes” to their MP4-26 following problems in testing.

Speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, Whitmarsh said the team aim to be one second per lap quicker in the first race at Melbourne.

Whitmarsh said: “I’m not satisfied with where the car was on reliability or performance in the tests. We have made some dramatic changes to the car and those changes we’ll see in Australia.

“So there’s some risk in that but I think it was the right thing to do and we’re hoping that risk comes off and the car is a lot more competitive in Australia.”

He said the main changes were “a completely new floor and new exhaust system. There are a lot of other bits and pieces but they are the obvious ones.”

He described the exhaust as “a simpler design than we’ve had before in my view.

“I think the exhausts systems have become a lot more extreme on quite a lot of the cars. I think we in particular had a very extreme solution but they were not delivering, in my opinion, sufficient benefit for their complexity.”

He added: “I believe we need to unlock the exhaust-blowing potential and we have some very creative ideas, some of which could have worked spectacularly well, but in order to work spectacularly well, they have to be sufficiently durable to be race-able. And, frankly, some of our solutions weren’t and that’s why I think we had to go back a little bit.

“But I think in doing so we found some interesting performance. So we’ll see. I think it will still be a challenging weekend.”

He said the team expected to be a second per lap quicker: “I want us to be significantly quicker and I believe we’ve implemented some changes which are aimed are making the car over a second quicker than it was in the tests.

“The target, certainly, is to deliver more than a second in performance with the round of modifications we have for the Australian Grand Prix.”

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155 comments on “McLaren aim to find a second with “dramatic changes” to car”

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  1. Looks like the fancy “octopussy” blowing all over the rear will not see racing tracks anytime soon. Good to see they had time to bring something that does work.

    Now wait and see weather it really will.

    1. A second? This a joke.U need more than 6 races to get 8tens.

      1. And you base this on… ?
        There haven’t been a single race, and the teams will have already found more then a second since they rolled their cars out for the first time. Of course what matters is relative performance improvement, which is easier to find with a slower car, especially for such a team as McLaren.

      2. Mercedes pulled a second between Barcelona tests.

        1. nah they just ran with less fuel

          1. An loads of visibly apparent upgrades.

  2. They were foxing!

  3. Lets hope you can find this extra second, I really want to see Mclaren up with the best from the start, not just playing catch up. The tyres will have the biggest impact and lets not forget whoever can perform the quickest and error free pit stops should do well. I think last year Merc were the fastest in the pitts so could be a good year for them. Really cant wait now, its been to long.

    1. Lets hope you can find this extra second

      Mercedes did it in Barcelona. I see no reason why McLaren shouldn’t be able to as well.

      1. I think that Mercedes brought ‘planned’ upgrades to the car in Barcelona and according to Brawn, they started the testing with the minimum of new parts to get a baseline for reliability and the tires. Completely different then what Mclaren are trying to do here. Either way, it means nothing in both cases as we didn’t know what the true pace was of the Cars were before the on second improvement, so they could say whatever they wanted in terms of the amount of time it brings to the car. Our cars pace is currently ‘?????’, we’re going to gain a second of improvement with this upgrade so our cars pace is ‘Current pace here’. Then they can claim their engineers are genius because the upgrade worked!

        1. True. There’s usually a big difference between planned upgrades and scrambling to make up for lost time upgrades.

          1. But it’s not like McLaren are simply bolting parts onto the car and hoping they will work. As soon as they knew that the exhaust system was going to be a problem that was not easily solved, they would have stated looking at alternative solutions and developed them parallel to the old-spec parts.

          2. I agree with what PM says here. Also, it might well be that even before the test, they had a (several?) back up idaes ready.

            Whitmarsh sounds as if they had a big discussion before using the complicated bit, first won by the engineers that worked on that; while others remained sceptical of the tradeoff made. After testing, those were proved right, and might well have been working on a back-up already.

  4. I still believe that McLaren will be competitive. They’re a great team and Hamilton is an extraordinary driver.

    It would be pretty unwise to underestimate them. I’m sure they will be successful when dealing with the changes, and will become a formidable competitor to any team out there.

    This comment coming from a well known Alonso supporter…

  5. I am getting indecently excited about the weekend – I really need to try and calm down…

    1. I already tried Rob, it doesn’t work. By Friday I’m probably going to be foaming at the mouth.

      1. Practice starts Thursday evening for me, which somehow makes it seem sooner, even though it’s just as long to wait for all of us… Three days and a handful of hours to go now until FP1!!!

    2. Lol guys, i am sorry Rob unless you find something really important to do that will keep yF1 outta your mind for a bit there is nothing you can do. Only 3 days left and still feels like 30.

      1. I’ve got an R.S GCSE mock and and French GCSE speaking controlled assessment and a Spanish controlled assessment speaking. These philistines don’t know how important F1 is to me!>:-(

        1. As long as you get over a C GCSE’s mean nothing, and mocks have literally no impact except slightly preparing you for how the exams are laid out.

  6. Come on McLaren..!! :D

    I really hope that they find the extra second. I’d hate to see the team beat by an energy drink again haha. With Lewis in such high spirits personally, McLaren need to perform NOW to get the best out of him..

    Bring on Melbourne :D

      1. substructure
        24th March 2011, 17:20

        is that a birdman reference??

  7. lol… I just tweeted a reply to Keith before I saw this article. A lot of us thought that weeks ago and it’s good to hear Whitmarsh finally saying it now.

  8. Speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in

    It’s quite relevant to use the phone if your sponsor is Vodafone, nevermind it just made me laugh.

    And a risky move to make dramitic changes if you ask me. I wonder if the U’s are still there.

    1. They were going back and forth with a new forward exhaust system and and a rear system during testing. It takes hours to change the system so they lost a lot of testing time.

      But they knew they had a problem, so why not feed in the data you have from testing and change the exhaust configuration and floor board (which suggests that that are trying a different forward exhaust system) again to see what happens?

      1. The new floor definitely makes it sound like it might be a FEE like Renault, but I think there’s a good chance it could be a Red Bull/Ferrari type exhaust as well, based on Whitmarsh’s comments on it being a much more conventional type exhaust. If all the rumors about the octopus exhaust were true though, even the FEE is probably more “conventional” for them.

  9. McLaren will certainly be interesting to follow in Friday practice sessions thoughout this year, in terms of experimentation. Looking forward to see what they come up with regarding the exhaust – assuming they’ll be able to find a way to make the most of it.

    1. Yeah, I was thinking along the same lines, they are probably fitting a Saturn V Rocket to it, or a warp drive button, etc etc etc.

      A second is a lot of time to find in such a short space of time, but McLaren have shown before that they are pretty good at playing catch up.

      1. ahhaha lol!
        I didn’t resist to post it! Yes a second is a lot but McLaren is always full of nice ideas, agree.

        1. I thought that this was the latest shot. I see they’ve ditched DRS.

          1. That doesn’t look like it’s going to corner particularly well…

    2. NICE!

      Off topic, ut it’s funny how the BT46B runs on Avon tires while it has Goodyear stickers! I guess they can no longer get matching Goodyears for it.

  10. Lots of optimism in this thread. Does anyone not think that bringing a load of untested, second-choice solutions to the first race of the season because the first lot didn’t work is not exactly cause for celebration? We’ll see if they can find that second, but it surely won’t be as simple as bolting on new parts and suddenly outdeveloping every other team on the grid.

    1. What you’re missing is that the new exhaust system is designed to channel all the hot air from McLaren press releases over the diffuser generating huge amounts of downforce.

      1. hahaha COTD!

      2. Hahaha, very good. ;)

      3. COTD for sure! Brilliant, made laugh out loud in class!

      4. LMAO Ads!! :) Good stuff.

      5. Nice one!!!

      6. Best! Comment! Ever!

    2. No-one said it would be simple, but these are clever people wekre talking about.

      1. No one argues that about McLaren… but it may be a question of being a bit to clever?

        1. Funnily enough, they’re moving away from being too clever, which is a good thing considering their history (MP4-18 anyone?). Even in recent times, they got the relatively simple DDD and outwash front wing working but came unstuck with the EBD last year and their exhausts this year.

          1. Weal, I thought this years car was a clasic example of McLaren being to clever for their own good.

            Especially when you consider Ferrari and Redbull are leading the feild by attempting to perfect last years designs. McLaren, with their penchant for extreme development would have been ideally set up to do this, an out develop the other two from a well understood base over the year.

            Instead they got a little silly. An now, as Red Andy said, there trying to find a second, with second choice solutions, talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

  11. Probably a relief to McLaren fans. I’ve never thought that they will just sit and watch the Reb Bulls and the horses taking the points away. Let’s see if they [the changes] will work.

    1. Is it for the fans or the sponsors?
      I mean, McLaren must be one of the most expensive teams to sponsor and you would not want to see your logo running midfield.

      Maybe this is a reassurance to those investors that they will be seen at the front of the field, or if not that they will.

      With the increasing competition on track and tightening economic world, I wonder how the competition for sponsors is fairing?

  12. I hope it comes off. Might make for a more exciting start to the season if the likes of Lewis and Jenson can actually get amongst the front rows of the grid from the start.

  13. Good to hear after people were lining up to say the year would be a disaster even before Race 1. They’ll still be a bit behind I think but as they come to know the car better I think they’ll be right up there like in mid-2010.

    1. Agreed, they are 1st class, fast and motivated. Not to mention well funded.

    2. Weal, mutch as I am a McLaren fan, I almost enjoy the frustration at times an it looked, an still in many ways does look, like it was going to be one of those years.

      If they can get the car on the pace for the European season however, I’ll be absolutley delighted with my humble pie, an still awesome looking car.

      I just so wish that McLaren can bag the titles this year or soon, so the team can keep Hamilton for a start. An actually deliver upon there enourmous potential.

  14. Are Ferrari and RBR not brining a major upgrade as well?

    1. I think rather no. They had very strong reliability and performance, so probably small corrections for the track itself, but nothing major, I guess.

      1. I doubt anyone else will bring major untested upgrades unless they have to.

        I’m sure McLaren thought their new car would be quick the first time round so I wouldn’t guarantee that this major upgrade will work… Sounds like an extreme change though so we’ll have to see. Could go either way.

        1. I don’t think so they will stick to their plans as they know that they have things in their bag.

  15. Doesn’t this mean that McLaren kind of wasted their pre season testing?

    1. Yes it does if you think like that. What they did was to find out their ideas during the off season weren’t working.

      It’s really not wasted, but it means that they start the season behind the 8 ball.

      1. Yea, with Alex Bkk on this. Not so much a waste…just not beneficial in the way they were hoping!

    2. No. McLaren had always been saying that they were looking to obtain track data for their simulator. May be they found enough correlation and from the results on the simulator see a 1 sec advantage on track.

      1. Afonso Ronda
        21st March 2011, 17:56

        No. That was only for the first test. For the 3 remaining they ran the challenger for 2011. But their original design is unreliable and performance wise was also poor. That’s why they are going for a different approach that is at this stage untested.

        1. No they were pretty much gathering data for most of their 2011 running too.

  16. In those first few races you definitely want to ‘be there’, when things turn out differently then expected. From that perspective you would sacrifice some speed for reliability.

    I do like it that they have such complex ideas that the car becomes unreliable. Pushing the envelope!

    1. eternalsunshine
      21st March 2011, 12:37

      Thought of the same thing. Trading off speed for reliability seems dodgy. While they may start in front, hope they finish the race as well.

  17. I really hope it works but we heard alot of updates talk last year, only a few of which actually delivered.

    No wonder they were queueing to get into work @ MTC this morning (I drive past every morning)

    Fingers crossed for me anyway.

  18. I wonder if the bumpiness of Albert Park will be less of a problem for McLaren this year? Didn’t see much evidence one way or another of the relative stiffness of the MP4-26 during testing. That was one of their issues last year, the stiffness required to make their aero package work properly.

    1. That was down to the size of their diffuser, another slightly ill though out McLaren concept.

      There’s no reason this years car should suffer in the same way, but if the grip ain’t there, McLarens probably in more trouble then there letting on.

      1. wasnt the stiffness issue down to the suspension design of the 2010 car? >

        1. Exaclty, but that suspension layout was designed to keep the super duper DD connected and optimized in the back.

  19. Well, this kind of sudden change usually doesn’t work.

    1. Like McLaren”s upgrade in 2009, or Ferrari and the EBD last year?

      1. BOOOOOOOM

        I prey if it comes. It comes on time.

      2. It doesn’t sudden change. Mclaren in 2009 and Ferrari’s EBD took time to enable.

      3. Don’t forget when Mclaren first adopted EBD last year. They struggled so much.

      4. Sorry for my English. Well, I think it maybe work, but probably later than Melbourne. You would remember Mclaren was not got faster suddenly in 2009 and EBD too. When Mclaren first adopted EBD, in my memory, they struggled with it so hoping it would work later, they had to ditch it. even it had been developed several month in factory, it didn’t work immediately.

        How about this update? Mercedes have improved their car at 11th hour, but at least W02 is not so trouble maker. Considering their poor reliablity in testing, they should focus on reliability, so change should be conservative one. Unless they should deal with new package with unproven reliability and speed at once and we know it’s very difficult. If the update is conservative one and fast, it does mean their radical exhaust concept was totally failed.

        1. You would remember Mclaren was not got faster suddenly in 2009

          Silverstone: fighting Renault for 16th
          Nurburgring: fighting Webber for the lead into Turn 1
          Hungary: won the race

          1. And that was after how many months of development work at the factory and what 10?? (random guess) grand prix weekends. I think thats the point eggry is trying to get at.

            These new updates seemed rushed compared to the ones of 09, i dont think they will immediately gain a second at melbourne, but they will be faster. When we finish the fly aways i think they will be on or very near the pace. That is, of course, if the updates do work as planned.

          2. I’m with Julien on this one. I would be amazed if they could bring a seconds worth of speed in Melbourne, especially considering it has never actually been tested on the car prior to this weekend. I would expect an increase in Mclarens performance to occur sometime after the flyaway rounds. That being said they are the one team I would back to evolve that quickly.

          3. But Julian, in 2009 McLaren had a problem of finding where they went wrong. They spent testing and quite a lot of races learning from that. After finding the problem, the update was brought out in a couple of weeks.

            Now they know where the problems are and just bring more conservative solutions.

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