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

2011 Australian Grand Prix

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.”

2011 Australian Grand Prix


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

  1. Welshie said on 21st March 2011, 14:04

    Think that all this negativity towards Mclaren is a bit amusing, sure they have not been at the sharp end of testing but then they have constantly maintained that they have been mainly data gathering and not testing ultimate pace, combined with various comments from JB & LH about the fact there is pace in the car, never done a complete light fuel quali run, JB posting faster times than Webber when he had that thing strapped to the nose of the car simply says to me they have held something back and 1 sec is not solely down to the new parts but that they are pretty sure that they are quicker than we think anyway. I predict a few raised eyebrows at the end of the race

    • F1Lover said on 21st March 2011, 18:42

      EXACTLY Welshie, some teams concentrated on running their cars round and round. McLaren was seeing far into the season. with measuring equipment on the nose they now know the car better and it’s not surprising for them to know if they have found 1 sec. People rely too much on the testing to judge, let’s wait for the race not long anymore….

      • Welshie said on 21st March 2011, 19:41

        F1lover…I am glad I have found someone who is on same wavelength as me, sure RB, Ferrari & Mercedes will be quick but have they shown all they have at present ?? I believe they will develop but Mclaren will also be there.

  2. I think Mclaren can pull something back but if they manage to make a load of upgrades work over one race weekend and develop themselves to the front of the grid already then I’ll be mega impressed.

    The last few days there have been a few comments that Mclaren aren’t delivering a car good enough for Lewis (which I disagree with) but I don’t want to forget Jenson either. Hamilton’s real trump card over Jenson was his incredible ability in qualifying to pull a few tenths out of the bag but back in the Michelin days that used to be an area Jenson excelled in so maybe it might close up between them a little more on a Saturday. So I’m not just interested to see if Mclaren can pull some time back- which I think in 09 they showed they’re more than capable ofn doing that- but how the drivers fair too.

    • Bigbadderboom (@bigbadderboom) said on 21st March 2011, 14:41

      I agree, if they make these changes and get the reliabilty they seem to be struggling with it will be an impressive acheivement. The fact that they have effectively binned the development work at the other tests (changing exhausts and floorpans are extensive changes) is a bit of a roll of the dice. Can’t wait till Friday i reall hope this works for Jenson and Lewis.

  3. nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 21st March 2011, 14:17

    so do we expect to see the U shaped sidepods last all season..?

    or is something like that unchangeable..?

    • Not a homologated area but from what I understand they arn’t the problem as such, although, I’m not sure there helping.

      Silly exhausts

      • Lemon (@lemon) said on 21st March 2011, 18:10

        I’m no expert but doesn’t the configuration of the u shaped sidepods obstruct the amount of air flowing into the diffuser from the ‘coke bottle zone’ at the side. The area where Red Bull are very strong. clearly the trade off of air over the top of the side pods isnt equal to that which can be gained from from the side, hence this probably plays a part in McLarens lack of downforce.

        • bleeps_and_tweaks said on 21st March 2011, 22:54

          The U shaped sidepods are designed to channel air to the beam wing at the rear of the car, this has become a key area for downforce for every team since the double-diffuser was banned.

          Check this out for a brilliant review by ScarbsF1:

          http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/mclaren-mp4-26-l-shaped-sidepods/

          I would expect the sidepods to stay for a while yet as the radiators and cooling systems are all integrated to fit into that shape, which I would imagine be a big job to change.

  4. Kirky (@) said on 21st March 2011, 14:21

    They’re hardly going to say “If you think we look crap, it’s because we are”. Of course you’re going to come out and say more positive things if the perspective the fans have is one of mediocrity.

    This is the modern McLaren, where innovation either works straight out the box (f-duct) or takes them far too long to come up with and perfect a viable solution to something (EBD).

    McLaren over the last few years simply cannot copy someone else’s idea and get it to work correctly in a good space of time. The design office also needs to get real and quit this 2 tier design team. This was fine in the days of unlimited testing where you could spend as much time and money as you wanted correcting and testing components, but not in this era of restrictive F1.

    The 2009 car was terrible, no doubt about that, and it took part of the No. 2 design team (working on the 2010 car) to help correct the issues. Here we are again and should we really be surprised? Clearly the exhaust positioning hasn’t been working as expected, but they’ve taken far too long deliberating over it and it’s cost them valuable track time, which was limited in the first place as they missed the first test.

    Going back to the EBD, added on for the first time at Silverstone 2010, I seem to remember McLaren being very confident that they had got that right. I’ll just leave that comment as is.

    • Icthyes said on 21st March 2011, 15:39

      They’ve already ditched the two-tier system as Pat Fry left for Ferrari.

      • McLaren do need to rethink their conpetual work. They seem to let their imaginaitions run away with them without considering draw backs.

        Still at least it makes it entertaining, a McLaren brining it considerable might to the table in a sensible fashion would be a sight to behold.

  5. A delivery driver told me this late last week and I put in down gossip with no truth.

  6. mani said on 21st March 2011, 14:27

    The 1 sec Whitmarsh talks about can’t indicate a thing here. Even if McLaren manages to find that 1 sec on a qualifying trim (which is easy to claim because no one – not even the team – has a clue about their quali pace from the testing; without all those bulky sensors and with the unlimited usage of DRS the car will be bit faster anyways), it’ll be very difficult to find same performance boost over the race distance.

    Even is they rollback the floor and exhaust to an old design which they knew to be working well, they would need a lot more testing than they actually did (with the conventional exhaust system) considering the new rule on weight distribution and their innovative side pod design.

    Some of us think finding the performance will be as easy as it was for Mercedes. It can’t be, because Mercedes had their basic car tested well and the updates were nothing but planned exhaust and aero enhancements of the base car they had.

    I’m not very optimistic about McLaren’s changes, realistically I hope they will be close enough in the fly away races to grab some important points and catch up the top teams in the European rounds.

    • curedcat said on 21st March 2011, 15:29

      “The 1 sec Whitmarsh talks about can’t indicate a thing here. Even if McLaren manages to find that 1 sec on a qualifying trim (which is easy to claim because no one – not even the team – has a clue about their quali pace from the testing.”

      But they do have simulators where they can drive round a track and compare data/lap times ,and thats how to find out how much faster you are .

      • mani said on 21st March 2011, 17:04

        We should call it simulator pace gain then :) If simulator data is that reliable then why bother to test on track?

  7. DaveW said on 21st March 2011, 15:19

    Whitmarsh is really putting himself on the line. If they are more than ~1.5s off the pace in Australia his name will be mud. This, coming after his absurd comments that the car kept breaking in testing because it was being pushed over the limit. This is a CEO taking ownership, setting goals, and setting benchmarks. Good. But these benchmarks now become the measure of his leadership.

    The only way to credit Whitmarsh’s comments is to assume that Mclaren simply have more development capacity than others. That is, they are able to run a greater multiplicity of design approaches and parts in testing, with the result that at the end of testing they will have developed an ideal package—on paper. Even if this were true, it means that this ideal package will never have been tested for reliability, and the drivers will be running a new floor, exhaust, etc. for first time on a race weekend. Are there enough new parts and fabrication capacity to do this; is there enough heat-shielding; is the balance there or will they cars be flying off the track. These are not hypotheticals, but the situation they were in last year post-Silverstone, taking the same approach: a car the drivers struggled to master from week to week and parts availabitliy crises.

    • It’s ridiculous in someways, I reckon it might be put down to Whitmarsh, as an ex mechanic it’s possible he greenlights to mutch unrestrained wackery from his design team.

      McLaren despreatley need a bit of restructuring, possibly a new team principle, they can’t keep making the same mistakes forever.

  8. earnst said on 21st March 2011, 15:22

    the biggest problem of mclaren team is, they think that they find something which will make their car faster on their pc, wind tunnel etc, but it really doesnt pay off on track.
    it was same story since 2009. think how many times you read withmarsh talking about a big update in recent years and think how many times mclaren made a big leap forward.

    so unless they had made a big change on their main design facilities at base, than the best they can do to get closer to teams like RBR and Ferrari by copying those teams, nothing more.

    to my experince, i cant see a reason to believe withmarsh and get excited, he was always over optimistic during his period.

  9. So different year – same McLaren. Will they be able to back up their promises this year?

  10. Chris said on 21st March 2011, 15:39

    Seeing both cars finishing the race in Australia will be a huge surprise – really bad start for a top team. Can’t get why Whitmarsh plays a PR game that in some days will prove to be a hoax…

  11. Nixon (@nixon) said on 21st March 2011, 15:45

    Who know might do a Brawn kinda thing…

  12. It is my firm belief that Martin Whitmarsh should do the honourable thing and resign immediately.

    He is clearly incapable of running a front-line F1 team and is almost totally nauseatingly full of positive PR soundbites.

    He is a total travesty and is tainting the legacy of a now once-great team.

  13. howick20 said on 21st March 2011, 16:38

    The key word here is ‘aim’…until this second is well and truly found at Melbourne my doubts are still in place. As much as I love Mclaren a second is all be it a tad optimistic….but then look at Merecedes….time will time…BRING ON FP1!!!!!

  14. DeadManWoking said on 21st March 2011, 17:50

    I’m beginning to think that Ferrari have managed to insert a post-Spygate mole into the McLaren team who prowls around the Technology Centre late at night locking up the potential in the cars! 8)

  15. F1Lover said on 21st March 2011, 18:33

    Y’all seem to forget that those poeple have been in the business for decades. I don’t think Whitmarsh would just speak for the sake of it. He knows that saying untrue things will haunt him later. Do you remember the nose measuring equipment? They are not fools to just have such radical change overnight…

    Why don’t we all just chill and wait for a few days then judge?
    Sometimes its good to be underestimated that only give them the desire to work harder compared to those who think they are already there.

    Come to race some might be surprised that the teams they thought were up there, are not in reality.

    • Welshie said on 21st March 2011, 19:45

      Once again F1Lover I am in total agreement, I have said in several posts through the testing period…” Wait & See”

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