Whitmarsh: “One of the hardest days” for McLaren

2013 Australian Grand Prix

Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2013McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says practice today was “one of the hardest days I can recall”.

The MP4-28 was 2.3 seconds off the quickest car in the second practice session, and only the seventh-quickest team.

“We were lacking overall grip, consistency, we had understeer, poor ride,” said Whitmarsh. “So a very difficult day. One where we didn’t go forward either during the course of the day so that’s a bit of a concern. ”

“But a lot of data, the team will be, I’m sure, working hard and long tonight. We’ve given ourselves what should be a base that we can improve upon. Hopefully we can do so tomorrow. But a disappointing and tough day for the team.”

Whitmarsh defended the decision to radically overhaul their car during the off-season having ended 2012 as the fastest team.

“We made quite a lot of changes to the car running into this season and at the moment we don’t fully understand how to get the best out of this car,” he said.

“There’s a choice you make, it’s a season that lasts between now and the end of November. We’ve got to be able to race throughout that period of time, developing the car. That’s what we set out to do.

“Of course it’s much more comfortable to start the season competitively and then fight from that. We’ve done both in our time. But this feels pretty tough at the moment but we’re a strong team and able to find our way through.”

“We felt that we wanted to have the ability to develop the car between now and the end of this season we needed to make some changes,” he added. “Inevitably when you do that there’s a degree of risk in that, and that’s the judgement we made.”

“We still believe that we’ve got a platform that can we develop, a platform that we don’t know as well as the one that we’ve left.

“Undoubtedly if you took last year’s car and just concentrated on that, would we be quicker today? I think we would today, but would it have the development potential during the year?

“Then it was our judgement, we’ll see later whether we were right or wrong, but it was our judgement that we needed to make some changes, which is what we did.”

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107 comments on Whitmarsh: “One of the hardest days” for McLaren

  1. David not Coulthard (@) said on 15th March 2013, 15:34

    In 1988 McLaren was the only team to design a car focussing on that year’s rules (Ironically enough the rule change in 1989 was the loss of the turbocharger). We all know what happened, but 2013 might be the antithesis of 1988.

    A European and South American pair, the South american was replacing a European, the European still racing was a title winner while the South American wasn’t a champion, and so on. Both can be seen in the 1988 and 2013 McLaren.

    Both seasons are looking pretty similar – except the cigar brand McLaren Project IV car – and at which side of the F1 door the turbos were.

  2. avidal (@avidal) said on 15th March 2013, 16:32

    If the lack of performance continue for Mclaren, Should they take a modest team’s approach to the race and try the long stints less pit stops strategy?

  3. Anis Bashir said on 15th March 2013, 19:02

    Red Bull have been evolving their car from 2009 and haven’t seem to run out of ‘potential’, yet, Mclaren who in the current era of the 2009 regulations (if i’m not mistaken) evolved their car only once from 2011 – 2012 are now saying if they evolved the 2012 car over to 2013, it would have run out of potential?

  4. nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 15th March 2013, 20:25

    Put a pull rod front suspension on the car and you’ll start with 2 seconds of the pace …..but you could end up fighting for the title. I think that the biggest problem was that everybody expected Maca to be at the front from race. Maybe it’sto early for conclusions. We’ll see.

  5. Paul Barrass (@damleda) said on 16th March 2013, 1:18

    Lot’s of interesting comments, and I admit here to being a massive Lewis fan, and not much of a Button lover, but there does seem to be a leaning toward saying Hamilton is such a big loss relevant to the new car’s pace. I love Lewis and think he is the fastest driver I have ever seen, but I cannot believe his input or lack of it is a large contributor to their (McLaren) current issues. That is surely just taking things too far. I do not believe that any driver, perhaps excepting Schumey, and possibly Vettel in future years having an understanding of how the mechnical suspension changes will impact car behaviour under racing loads and the relevant impact on aero’ and handling.
    I do believe a good driver can immediately react to changes to a setup to determine how it has effected grip/handling and downforce, and offer suggestions on improvements, and from what I have read from pitlane reporters, etc. most people think Lewis was not as good as Jensen in this regard over the past three years (bar a short period last year). None of us (fans) are in a position to know for sure, but what I would say is if the car isn’t handling well, then I do expect them to miss Hamilton who like Alonso will get the fastest times out of any car, but also, I wonder if Sergio could spring a surprise. Everyone surely knows by now that Jensen has a favoured setup, and doesn’t perform when the car is off his favourite balance.

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