I don’t know if there is a similar thread already in existence, but i would really like to know why are they doing so bad.
So far I have found two reasons:
– apparently the pull rod front suspension was a failure as it has completely changed the balance of the airflow at the rear of the car (in a bad way) – the suspension is working well but they have miscalculated its aero impact
– after poor results in the first part of the season the team has decided to concentrate on 2014
McLaren felt that although they had the best car on the grid at the end of last year, they had already developed it as much as they could, and although they could have started the season with a refined version of the car, there wouldn’t be much that they could do throughout the season. So they decided to start over for 2013.
One of the major decisions they made was to change the front end of the car. Previously, McLaren had run very low noses – so low that they didn’t include a stepped nose last year, because the profile of the nose was naturally low enough to make it unnecessary. But this year’s car has a higher nose, and actually has a step under a vanity plate. This has fundamentally altered the way flows over the entire car, and also McLaren’s design philosophy. It might have seemed like a good idea to make those changes, and their reasons might have been sound, but I don’t think they have understood it enough to make it work.
Yeah, they basically have to relearn all the aero concepts for their pull-rod and high nose car now, as it was different for the low nose, push rod. This is all about airflow over the whole car and getting flow to the diffuser and rear end (think of it a bit like a multiplier effect. Something like the EBD or little coanda generating wings on the top of the sidepod can increase this multiplier and hence downforce).
So, McLaren were basically too ambitious, and have admitted as much. I suppose better to learn this now than try it new on the 2014 car and fail miserably (they could be jumped by more teams then too), but still, they could have done a Ferrari, and had a strong car for the first half season, got a few podiums and been ahead of where they are now, then concentrated fully on 2014 from the same point or even earlier and have everything sorted for 2014. I remember they said that on the numbers the 2013 car was an improvement, but I think at the first race the 2013 car was slower than the old 2012 car? Helping to improve this car has involved reusing some of the 2012 concepts too…
McLaren don’t seem to do too well with running dual development programs, and usually better when concentrating wholly on one program – hence only challenging for the title in generally a yo-yo pattern, except for when there is an evolution taking place (98-99-00, 07-08). I still think this year they should have done a 2008 but switched focus to 2014 early when they would have fallen out of championship contention. You could also say McLaren struggle once they undertake other projects i.e. take their eye off the ball (McLaren F1, now sports cars), although this is a more dubious link (mid-90s was all about engine struggles).
And all of the other teams have plenty of experience running that nose/suspension configuration. McLaren don’t.
Their reasoning made sense: they had exhausted development of the MP4-27, and the technical regulation were stable enough that the shift to the new configuration was a calculated risk. But what they’ve done is a bit like putting half their money on black and half their money on red and then having the roulette ball land on the green 0.