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. I don’t think it’s being done in quite the same way that Mercedes have done it. Their latest upgrade had probably spent sveral weeks or months being tweaked and improved in the wind tunnel.

    McLaren, no doubt, expected their car to work well out of the box. It didn’t. And so now they’ve come up with 1 second of performance from something that’s a lot less complicated in just a couple of weeks?

    I shall be suitably impressed if they make it into the top ten in qualifying.

    • Lemon (@lemon) said on 21st March 2011, 20:46

      These things may have been in the pipe line for months, its just at the time they may have opted for the more risky radical solutions!

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 21st March 2011, 22:22

      Read again. The lack of testing caused by the complicated thing braking down has left them slow. So they hook up the thing that doesn’t break, work out the set-up for the car with it and hey presto, the time is a second quicker.

  2. Toro Stevo said on 21st March 2011, 20:05

    People here are already performing post mortems on the McLaren season before it has even started.

    Just sit back and enjoy the season guys.

  3. polishboy808 said on 21st March 2011, 20:41

    Ahahahahahahahahaha, not going to happen…. They’ll probably ditch the L sidepods and go for a conventional airbox, which I can guarantee won’t bring them a second….

  4. Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 21st March 2011, 20:50

    Oh wow, I’m looking forward to the race more than ever now!! I hope they find that second, qualifying on Saturday should be an absolute nail biter!!!!!

  5. statix said on 21st March 2011, 22:05

    i take this as a joke, really. 1s… remind me to kick myself in my head if thats come out true :)

  6. i dunno, the whole layout of the car’s internals is based upon the l-shaped sidepods. For them to put effective conventional sidepods on they would need to rework the whole layout of the cooling system and many of the other internal components. It’d need to be pretty much a new car

  7. Dave said on 21st March 2011, 23:15

    Its been said earlier in the comments for this article. The chassis has gone through Homologation. The chassis can not be changed it will have those sidepods for the season. They have only mentioned the exhaust system and the floor.

    Just because you can see the unconventional sidepods doesn’t mean that is whats going to be changed. The internal systems and other systems most of us don’t understand will be modified.

    Can we just play the wait and see game before we suggest Mclaren are going to be hopeless again and heads need to role. They have remained a top 3 team for years forgetting recent blips.

    • ads said on 22nd March 2011, 1:49

      i didnt think sidepods were part of the chassis. Teams often introduce new sidepods to cars mid-season.

  8. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 21st March 2011, 23:35

    1 second per lap is dangerously close to being lapped. what is going on over there?

  9. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 22nd March 2011, 0:21

    SO much negativity towards a team that came second in the Constructor’s Championship last year and 3rd the year before, despite not being quickest from day 1?

    As i’ve said before, there are so many variables, with the new tyres and what not, that I completely agree with McLaren deciding to take a conventional approach and looking for reliability. If this brings them a second, then that’s great.

    Also, who’s to say that during the last test at Barcelona they weren’t already planning this and were testing to see what they would need to change in order to remove or reduce their issues?

    McLaren haven’t always been my favourite team, but they sure are smart when it comes to things like this in my opinion. And my best bet is that they understand the Pirellis better than any other team as well…that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will use them the best, but they will know how to react towards them more.

  10. McG (@mcg) said on 22nd March 2011, 0:31

    Great news. Go McLaren!

  11. syiwan said on 22nd March 2011, 3:54

    tonyfernandes Tony Fernandes
    RT @MyTeamLotus: Some FANTASTIC news today – we’ve confirmed that Karun Chandhok has joined us as Reserve Driver. ..

  12. Burrows (@burrows) said on 22nd March 2011, 8:01

    McLaren were very bullish at this years launch, I think they thought they were in with a chance of blowing everyone away with their radical design, so I’m surprised that they should be so far off.

    We’ll see, but just becuase no one’s found a second before, it doesn’t make it impossible, but the only way I can see it working is if one part of the car is desperately poor. It is possible that the car is inherently very very fast, but that one of the more extreme components (the exhaust) is working nothing like expected and is slowing the car down dramatically. Reverting to a simpler design may put this right. Hence 1 second.

    Anyone got any straws?

    • Bäremans said on 22nd March 2011, 8:45

      Unless they have been performing a nice piece of theatre these past weeks, I think they had a Plan A and B all along.
      Plan A is more radical with the potential to make them very very quick.
      Turns out it doesn’t work (yet) and that it even slows them down.
      So on to plan B.
      Whitmarsh mentions they have a new floor. you don’t quickly make a new floor in a week time. They must have had this ready for quite some time.

      Maybe – hopefully – they still develop package A and we see it on the car further in the season.

  13. 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.”

    Nowhere does he say they have found a second plus.

    Just hopes, wants, aims, targets.

    In the interests of more close teams I hope they have found a second plus

  14. McRo (@mcro) said on 24th March 2011, 23:28

    Lewis is Hopeful but will the McLaren be hopeless. Can’t wait to find out, but half a second still sounds a long way off.
    “We’re hopefully within half a second, maybe within eight tenths of a second, which means hopefully by the time we get back to Europe we are able to be a little bit closer to them.”

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