Current McLaren

Discussion in 'Teams' started by Brogan, Jul 9, 2011.

  1. Brogan

    Brogan Leg end Staff Member

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    Arguably one of the big teams in Formula One but lately they don't seem to be able to get the basics right.
    Some of their strategy and decisions in the last few years has left more than a few observers scratching their heads.

    Just a few for starters:
    • Leaving Kimi out on a badly flat-spotted tyre, resulting in it exploding on the last lap.
    • Leaving Hamilton out on tyres so badly worn they were down to the canvas; Bridgestone themselves demanded that McLaren bring him in and McLaren refused, keeping him out for a few more laps. That decision arguably cost Hamilton the first rookie WDC and is one which will haunt him and McLaren for the rest of their days.
    • Not sending Button and Hamilton out to get banker laps in during Q1.
    • Sending Hamilton out on used tyres in Q3, with rain forecast, meaning it would be impossible to set a fast lap time on his second attempt on new tyres.
    Their major updates seem to send them further down the grid, instead of challenging for pole positions and wins. As the season progresses they tend to get worse before getting better, by which time it is generally too late.

    It's often said of them "write them off at your peril", but is this necessarily true?

    The last time they won the WCC was in 1998 and their last WDC was 2008, before that 1999.
    Their days of regularly winning championships seem to be well and truly behind them.

    It's all well and good coming up with reasons why they haven't won championships.
    The fact remains though, they have won just one WDC in the last 12 years.

    So where to now for McLaren?

    (I wrote this in rather a hurry so I will flesh it out when I have more time.)
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  3. teabagyokel

    teabagyokel #dejavu Valued Member

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    Its simple reasons why they haven't won championships and its not strategic decisions in general.

    Simply, after 2000, they never built a car faster than all the other teams, except arguably in 2007. And it is quite possible that their 2007 car was being flattered by two very good drivers.

    Strategically, they've had some weird decisions, but in changable conditions someone looks stupid and its not always McLaren. Most of the time they win the race in such conditions.
    F1ang-o, Speshal and Fenderman like this.
  4. Il_leone

    Il_leone Champion Elect

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    Ferrari did not win the world drivers title for 21 years before Schumacher came along with his team

    Mclaren is still one of the 3 teams drivers would love to join.

    Can you actually look at Whitmarsh in the eye and say its his fault for a start? Compared to Ron Dennis NO.

    Hamilton has to ask himself why he is being put into those positions? Should not he be more forceful to get banker laps. Senna would never allow that to happen in his days as a Mclaren driver. If there was forecast of rain Lewis should be the one making sure he is not exposed but even on the laps he was on he did not appear happy with the car

    Difference in F1 today has been the emergence of Red Bull with Adrian Newey in charge who Mclaren let go in 2006 but that was after ironically he had famously u-turned on an offer from Jaguar now Red Bull
  5. jez101

    jez101 Bookies drive nice cars because of people like me Contributor

    They do seem to struggle to adapt when things are changing, but they are usually there or thereabouts at the end.

    (They would have won the constructors in 2007 but for spygate)
  6. RevMaxPower

    RevMaxPower Banned

    McLaren are darned lucky they have a couple of top class drivers at the moment. Can you imagine their plight if they didn't...?
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  7. Bill Boddy

    Bill Boddy Professional layabout Premium Contributor

    Actually they wouldn't have. Their points from Hungary were taken away without anything to do with spygate. It would have finished Ferrari 204 points, McLaren 203 points.
  8. jez101

    jez101 Bookies drive nice cars because of people like me Contributor

    I think Hungary 2007 was everything to do with spygate. It wasn't for what happened there, we would have been none the wiser...;)
  9. Brogan

    Brogan Leg end Staff Member

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    If Alonso hadn't gone to Ron Dennis then no-one would have been any the wiser about Spygate.

    The points would still have been deducted though.

    So while the two events are somewhat linked, they are separate.
  10. jez101

    jez101 Bookies drive nice cars because of people like me Contributor

    I think I distracted the thread. :(

    The main point was that McLaren have been thereabouts every year - nothing like Williams' demise, or Renault's. They haven't flitted in and out like Toyota and BMW / Sauber, or suddenly come from nowhere like Jaguar / Red Bull. Since 2005, they have done as well or better than anyone. It's just that they have struggled to be the best in any one year.

    Where next for them? I think they just keep plodding on, building bad cars and evolving them into good ones, probably. I don't see them slipping behind Mercedes, Renault or Sauber.
    jenov2003 likes this.
  11. Brogan

    Brogan Leg end Staff Member

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    Oh I fully agree they are always there or thereabouts.

    But you know what they say about second... ;)
  12. riskitall

    riskitall Points Scorer

    lewis may have been told it wont rain before the end of q3.but if his team knew it would rain before the end of q3 they should have made sure he went out on fresh tyres at the start of either way his team are no doing their job correctly.
    F1ang-o likes this.
  13. F1Yorkshire

    F1Yorkshire Avatar for sale to the highest bidder Contributor

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    In those changeable conditions there were no room for risks so why take any? McLaren never learn from past mistakes but their time at the top will come again although I don't see it happening until the next generation of rules come into effect.
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  14. Theo_55

    Theo_55 Rookie

    I have to agree with the Op, McLaren seems to screw up whenever there are changeable conditions, today's screw up sending Lewis out on used tyres when the dark clouds overhead screams, Get a banker lap in on new tyres, this is the last straw. I am actually wondering who is in charce of strategy?

    Something is seriously lacking in that team, they can't continue to screw up race after race and nothing is done!
    F1ang-o likes this.
  15. Lewywo4

    Lewywo4 Race Winner

    Poor decision making by Mclaren not to have Lewis start P3 on new soft tires, especially during variable weather conditions. I would have thought that, the fiasco during qualifying at Monza in 2008 would be in their memory bank, for the strategists at Woking!
    The only positive thing that comes to mind for me, is that Hamilton has available another set of hardly used soft tires.
  16. Brogan

    Brogan Leg end Staff Member

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    I would just like to point out this is a team thread about McLaren in general.
    Not specifically about Hamilton or the British GP.
  17. teabagyokel

    teabagyokel #dejavu Valued Member

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    Wet/Dry F1 Races since 2007

    Defined as races where both dry and wet tyres are used by a significant proportion of the field

    Canada 2011 - Winner J. Button
    Belgium 2010 - Winner L. Hamilton
    China 2010 - Winner J. Button
    Australia 2010 - Winner J. Button
    Malaysia 2009 - Winner J. Button
    Brazil 2008 - Winner F. Massa
    Belgium 2008 - Winner F. Massa*
    Monaco 2008 - Winner L. Hamilton
    China 2007 - Winner K. Raikkonen
    Europe 2007 - Winner F. Alonso

    Thats far from a bad record, thats 6 out of the last 10 races in changeable conditions won by McLaren, and a seventh where McLaren crossed the line first.
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  18. jez101

    jez101 Bookies drive nice cars because of people like me Contributor

    good point, well made :)
  19. FB

    FB Not my cup of cake Valued Member

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    McLaren don't seem to be the same team since Ron Dennis stood down as team principal. Ron had his faults (the main one being incomprehensible) but he had a winning mentality. I'm not sure Martin Whitmarsh has the same "killer" instinct.
  20. Cookinflatsix

    Cookinflatsix Banned

    I think that recently there has been a trend towards team bosses with management education. Ferrrari, RBR and McLaren no longer have the old school entrepreneurial boss who built the team from almost nothing into a world beater. A rainmaker, a visionary, sometimes autocratic, many times wrong, but at all times convinced of imminent greatness.
    Enzo, Bernie, Ron, FW amongst others used instinct and knowledge of the sport bottom up.

    My opinion formed by limited access to the inner workings at McLaren are that Whitmarsh is a great middle manager, good with process, a sound business school graduate, a technologist. Probably an expert in optimisation and an efficient HR manager.

    Relying on the weather forecast and not sticking a head out of the window has cost Lewis and Jenson progress into Q3 at least once. Always reacting instead of proactive approaches mean that updates are always expected to bring the team level, and therefore if ineffective means going backwards as other teams move on.

    I just get the feeling that there is no longer a 'do or die, we are the best' attitude around McLaren. Its more like 'we are like others and we are doing our best, but we cant all be the best' attitude

    Its all too touchy feely, best mates, harmony, feng shiu for my liking

    What happened to clinically efficient, win at all costs, 'need a friend?, get a dog' McLaren?

    How can 2 WC team-mates be best buddies?

    Whats happened to Lewis? where is the aggression? why was he not steaming at qualifying 10th?

    Rant over

    McLaren are not on top of anything at the moment, but they will come back
    rufus_mcdufus and F1ang-o like this.
  21. tranquility2k9

    tranquility2k9 Podium Finisher

    I'll add a few things on this whole McLaren saga. I think fundamentally McLaren have got it wrong this season in so many ways.

    It all started with pre-season testing. They had an awful time and the largest reason for this by far was the fact that tried at least 4 different exhaust systems, and some have said it could have even been 6. Consequently, they ended up largely wasting the whole of pre-season testing and it turned out that a much simpler system, that they ended up copying off Red Bull, was by far the most effective and reliable. If McLaren had of got that sorted earlier before the start of the season then you feel they could have started to focus on other development and actually had a much faster car at the start of the season. Consequently, it has turned out that they always seem to be one step behind Red Bull in the development pipeline.

    The next major issue has been their lack of successful upgrades and developments to the car. I don't think I'd be too far wrong in saying the MP4-26 has had more unsuccessful parts attached to it since the first race than any other team in the paddock. I know McLaren are more public about their upgrades, but it's factual that other teams have been adding upgrades that have visibly been improving their performance. If you remember at the start of the season, McLaren had a exhaust, floor and diffuser that was essentially a 'botch job'. Come Malaysia they tested new parts at the rear and didn't use them in the race. Then at China, they bought some further developments in that area, which would supposedly fix the reliability issues with their proposed new system, yet they again ended up running essentially the same exhaust/diffuser from the 1st race. They then had several weeks before the start of the European season and yet for some odd reason when they arrived at Turkey, you may remember they had next to no upgrades. Clearly they'd realised more thought had to be put into getting this exhaust system working as they wished and so this delayed that upgrade further. Their decline in form was obvious, from Malaysia through China to Turkey. They'd gone from being miles ahead of Ferrari and only just behind Red Bull, to being behind them both by some way. Come the Spanish grand prix, they finally brought a decent amount of upgrades and got their exhaust system repackaged and tidied up. This propelled them ahead of Ferrari again and a little closer to Red Bull (on race pace certainly). The problem is that it had taken them 5 races to achieve that and one can only imagine if they'd have focused on fewer exhaust systems in pre-season testing and therefore had the exhaust system they had at Spain for the start of the season. Although at Spain things were looking up, by focusing on getting an upgrade working that was initially planned for Malaysia for so long, they would then find themselves slipping behind again in the development pipeline. This has been visible now as since Monaco I cannot remember them having any significantly successful developments to the car, especially at the rear, where they most need it. What is most frustrating is how they completely missed the plot at Canada, where it was obvious they should have brought a lower drag DRS system yet didn't choose to. They were lucky to have won that race in many respects with the weather. By the time Valencia came, they brought a new front wing, which they ended up using, but because the front-end had so much downforce in comparison to the rear, they wrecked the tyres in the race. Although they brought a slightly different DRS / Rear wing to Valencia (which im still not entirely sure they used), the first reasonably major evolution in that area appeared at Silverstone. All of the other teams have evolved that DRS/Rear Wing several times up to then and McLaren has been badly behind. No surprise either when they turn up in qualifying and don't even run the new wing. Yet again, developments brought to the track, hyped in the media and not used.

    Quite frankly, with the resources McLaren have, their development rate this year has been extremely poor. The drivers in Valencia were visibly frustrated by it. After a poor development rate in 2010, which ended up costing them the title, they've got it even worse in 2011 and the myth of 2009 seems a long way away.

    Even still larger underlying issues than this are at the heart of all their problems. For the last 2 years, McLaren just haven't seemed to understand their car. If you compare Ferrari's underlying car to McLaren's over the past 2 years they you see a stark difference. Although McLaren have made a better start generally in both seasons due to their more innovative approach, it has been no coincidence that Ferrari has overtaken them now in both of these seasons. The Ferrari is a much simpler and more traditional concept and is brilliant in areas like traction and braking. They seem to have more freedom with suspension as well and this all leads to a car that is easier to develop and less sensitive to change. McLaren's car is visibily different from everyone elses and as was the same with last years car, it seems they don't really understand how it works and can very rarely get an upgrade to work with it. The overall feeling I have of McLaren's car this year and also last year is that it's a poor car with lots of fancy aero add-ons that actually hide its underlying weaknesses. The only way McLaren will win with that approach is if they find a 'golden-bullet' that no one else has and have a big performance advantage. As it is, they are slipping behind yet again. The new regs have hurt them most, which is no surpise with how sensitive their car is to any kind of change. What is also worrying is that it shows when you take away the blown diffusers next year, if McLaren follow this concept over to 2012 then they will actually be quite far behind their rivals with the base-line package.

    Their base-line package of having a very long chassis/wheel-base was criticised heavily last year, yet they stuck to it this year. Surely for 2012 they will try fundamentally a new concept or else I really cannot see them being competitive.

    The last nail in the coffin for McLaren has been their shocking strategies and decisions that always seem to lack common-sense. This started in pre-season testing as mentioned above, but has been even more obvious during race weekends. Those that spring immediately to mind are what they did with Hamilton at Monaco, a huge unnecessary risk. Then here at the British GP, quite farcically sending out both drivers on soft tyres when it had clearly started raining quite hard. This then resulted in them making another equally ridiculous decision (as rain had been predicted a few minutes into the session) and to send Lewis out on those used tyres at the start of Q3. One feels Lewis gets these poor decisions more than Jenson and that is partly due to the fact he relies more on the team, something he must improve on, but in a way, he is there to drive the car and it isn't much to ask to expect your engineers to not make such ludicrous decisions.

    I have just written all of this off the top of my head so im sorry if the continuity is not much good but I think it does go over most of the major issues with McLaren. I almost feel like sending this to Mr. Whitmarsh and the engineering team, maybe I will, although I doubt they'd pay any notice. They seem a little blind to he obvious these days.

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