Analysis – F1 2014 the story so far: McLaren
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Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Apr 2014   |  7:23 pm GMT  |  255 comments

With the first four ‘flyaway’ grands prix out of the way, it’s a good time to assess the start each team has made to the season and look at how each team has fared with the new hybrid turbo technology so far.

Over the next week or so, we will look in detail and what’s gone well and what hasn’t, and assess the outlook for the season.

To start with, a team that began the season well but has been a bit of an enigma ever since.


McLaren

Best result: P2 Australia (Magnussen)
Best grid slot: 4th (Magnussen, Australia)
Average grid slot: 9th.
Retirements: 1
Constructors Championship: 5th
Drivers’ Championship: P8 Button, 23pts; P9 Magnussen 20pts

Fastest race lap, gap to pace setter

Australia: 0.439s
Malaysia: 2.307s
Bahrain: 2.545s
China: 2.229s


What’s gone right?
Strong start to the season in Australia with both cars on podium after Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from second place. However on returning to the factory in Woking the team was told by chairman Ron Dennis that if anyone in the team was happy with that result they should “leave McLaren straight away, as the team exists to win”.

Outstanding debut for Kevin Magnussen, who also qualified strongly in the wet conditions. The team scored 33 points at the first race, but only 10 points in the three races that have followed.

The car went well in Bahrain, with Button heading for fifth place before clutch problems intervened.

Eric Boullier has settled into his new role as Racing Director and looks an asset to the team, with a strong racers’s instinct and a good understanding of the F1 environment. He’s yet to really make his presence felt internally, however, as he has been learning the McLaren ropes first.


What’s gone wrong?

The 1/2 a second per lap from the upgrade in Malaysia, which Ron Dennis had targeted, did not materialise and the team was forced to open up bodywork to cope with cooling demands in the hot conditions and this hurt the aerodynamics.

Two double non-scores in Bahrain and China have poured cold water on the early season optimism. In Malaysia the car did not work well in high track temperatures, although Button did well to take sixth place and they also had some sensor problems which cost time. Clutch problems hit both cars in Bahrain and this was followed by a poor weekend in China, where the limitations of the front end of the car were clear. Button qualified 12th and Magnussen only 15th.

Although China was cold, which should have suited them, the McLarens didn’t have any pace and were the slowest of the Mercedes-engined cars.

After a stellar debut, Magnussen has been doing some hard yards since. He already has points on his licence after getting involved in a start line clash with Raikkonen in Malaysia, which also bagged him an in-race penalty and wrecked his race, dropping him to ninth at the end.

Strong points of the team and car
McLaren has benefited from having a Mercedes power unit in the early races, as rivals Renault and Ferrari started the season behind the German manufacturer on performance and fuel economy.


Weak points of the team and car
In China a lack of front tyre temperature and graining was the big issue for McLaren. The drivers very clearly spelled out that the car does not have enough overall downforce and is very front limited, which means that on front-limited tracks such as China and also Barcelona to some extent they will suffer unless they can address the problem quickly.

They pioneered a curious looking ‘bodied’ rear suspension design (above), but it’s not clear whether this has given them the rear end downforce that every team is looking for under the 2014 rules, now that smaller rear wings and the lack of blown diffusers have made the rear of the cars more unstable. The cost in terms of drag appears quite high.


Where do they go from here?
After the disaster of 2013 McLaren cannot afford another ‘lost year’. The faults with the car can be addressed and for the foreseeable future the Mercedes engine will give them a solid platform. But the others will catch up if they don’t push hard and develop the chassis.

Around June/July things will get complicated as the technical team has to continue to develop the 2014 car around the Mercedes at the same time as optimising the design for the new 2015 car around the Honda engine. This is a formidable undertaking and they cannot afford to mess up the 2015 car through lack of focus and effort, with such an important new partner coming on board.

To complicate the task, new FIA Sporting Regulations for 2014 say that the team can use no more than 30 hours of wind tunnel and CFD time combined. The risk of falling behind is obvious.

McLaren is a well-resourced team, despite not having a title sponsor at this point. Ron Dennis has been pushing very hard to conclude a deal with a large company, which could be Chinese giant Huawei, but has not got it across the line yet.


Team boss Eric Boullier said on Wednesday that the team is confident it will challenge for wins as the season goes on.

“We have to believe we will win a race,” he said. “What is going on here in Woking is very positive and I think we will be able to keep pushing and bring very aggressive and strong development for the course of the season.

“And I think we will put ourselves in a position, maybe not in the first part of the season but maybe later, to fight for a win. I hope so.”

Overall Marks out of 10

McLaren – 6/10
Jenson Button – 6/10
Kevin Magnussen – 5.5/10

How many marks out of 10 do you give McLaren so far? Leave us your comments on this post in the comments section below.

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255 Comments
  1. Gaz Boy says:

    Or dear, what to start with Macca?
    Loosing a lot of good people over the years doesn’t help…..Adrian, Paddy, Pat Fry Lewis amongst others.
    If Macca are suffering on front limited tracks, that doesn’t bode well for Barcelona and Silverstone; in any case over the last few years those two circuits have been McLaren’s weakest to an extent.
    Anyway,

    Macca 5/10
    Jenson 7/10
    Kevin 6/10

    I’ve been relatively kind to the drivers as McLaren’s are technical and organisational, not the two men behind the wheel.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I fear it may take a 2 or 3 year programme to get Scuderia Woking back to be pre-eminence…….still better to start late than never……..Macca have been in a gentle decline since 2009.

      1. Blackmamba says:

        Anything above 5 for the drivers is very generous. This is the same car that got a double podium in Oz so the feed back from the drivers is not helping the engineers at all. They should be able to cox performance from that car and I believe in Alonso’ hands that car with that shine would be the second fastest on the grid. McLaren are the 2nd most successful team on the grid and their lead driver is Jensen? Think about that for a minute!

      2. Blackmamba says:

        Typo *shine* – engine.

      3. AuraF1 says:

        Yes. Right. Alonso is so good he can cool a car without opening up the bodywork. He’s not just good – he’s magic…

        I like your faith in drivers as wizards but afraid you might be living in fantasy land there ;)

      4. J Hancock says:

        Mclaren’s problems run much deeper than Button. Button was a match for Hamilton over three years, more than a match for Perez and faster than Magnussen so far. Unless they can get Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton they won’t be getting a driver who’s broadly accepted to be ‘better’ should they replace him.
        .
        They need to get a handle on their somewhat slapdash car development and reliability. This goes all the way back to the nineties, fastest one year, nowhere the next, often unreliable. Whether it was Hakkinen, Coulthard, Raikonnen or recently Hamilton and Button Mclaren seem to excel at frustrating top tier drivers.

      5. Tristan says:

        Blackmamba, I think you’ve answered your own statement – yes, it is the same car (more or less, despite the ineffective upgrades) that scored a double podium.

        However, the problem is the other cars now beating it are not the same as the ones in Melbourne – Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, FI are all pushing hard and bringing good upgrades. McLaren simply aren’t marching forward quickly enough.

      6. Andrew c says:

        Agree completely. For those below that implied jenson is a great choice because he matched Hamilton, I suspect wishful thinking here. I think most would agree that Hamilton would be the better driver and Magnussen may well prove to be better than Jenson too. Give him time. Also, I seem to remember in 2012 that the tean followed Jensons technical lead which ended up going down a blind alley and it irritating Hamilton as a result. Jenson owned up to it too after the Silverstone race that year. Isn’t it likely the same thing might be happening now?

      7. Ahmad says:

        Sorry, but they have been in brutal decline since 1991. Apart from 2008 and the glory years of 1998 and 1999 where they got nearly beaten despite having the best car, the team failed year after year.

        Even when they came up with the fastest car (as in 2005 and 2012), they still found a way to fail (usually by way of unreliability and team operational mistakes).

        For a team that “exists to win”, it definitely has the best record for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

      8. Wayne says:

        Even in 98 they won the wdc without having the best car – the last time that was achieved by the way. They squandered HAM’s talent since in my opinion.

        JA, great article, nowhere else on or off the internet can this sort of quality F1 journalism be found. Thanks again.

      9. Ahmad says:

        @Wayne:

        Sorry but if you can’t remember 98, let me refresh your memory: McLaren started the season with a second advantage over Ferrari. The car was designed by Newey and they also were able to do less pitstops than Ferrari having switched to Bridgestone. Ferrari were playing catch-up all year long, and Michael became so frustrated that he even considered joining McLaren that year.

        Despite a lesser machinery, Michael managed to take the title fight to the end (despite DC screwing up his Spa win).

      10. Jimbob says:

        +1. The issue with McLaren is the team, not the drivers and it has been that way for years.

        JB isn’t the problem, in terms of points (what matters) he beat LH over 3 seasons… How much more does he need to do for people to stop using him as an excuse for McLaren’s poor form??

      11. Dr Lewis says:

        Wayne – actually Lewis performed that same feat in 2008 – World Champ in a non constructor winning car.

        Macca seem to revel in it!

      12. Dr Lewis says:

        Jim bob

        For goodness sake – are championships awarded over three year point scores. Stop with the drivel.

        I very much doubt Jenson thinks he beat Lewis however you count it.

        Poles, fastest laps, wins whatever.

        Unless you start counting useless pit stops and DNF – yes then Jenson beat him by having fewer!

      13. grat says:

        I love how people repeat the mantra “Button beat Hamilton at Mercedes” when Button only outscored Hamilton one of three years (when Hamilton, by his own admission, had a truly lousy year).

        Even in 2012, when McLaren took points away from Hamilton on a regular basis, Button still came in 2 points behind in the constructor’s championship.

      14. Bob says:

        “…I love how people repeat the mantra “Button beat Hamilton at Mercedes” when Button only outscored Hamilton one of three years (when Hamilton, by his own admission, had a truly lousy year).

        Even in 2012, when McLaren took points away from Hamilton on a regular basis, Button still came in 2 points behind in the constructor’s championship….

        And I love how people constantly tell us that Hamilton had such bad luck and so many DNF’s. Out of the two it was BUTTON who had more mechanical DNF’s than Hamilton. The reason Hamilton had more overall DNF’s was due to accidents – a large majority of them being his fault.

        Honestly, if I hear one more person moan about poor Lewis Hamilton’s bad luck with poor reliability I’ll do my block! Out of all of the F1 world champions there have EVER been, Hamilton has by far the best reliability of them all.

        How about doing some research instead of moaning!!!

      15. H.Guderian (ALO fan) says:

        Nope.
        They will have ALO back and with him that 0.7s again.

        The fact is that after ALO departure, they sunk.

      16. Steve Zodiac says:

        If you have a good enough car, as Mclaren used to, you don’t need Alonso’s mythical .7 sec you just need a very good driver which despite what some people like to say Jenson is. I don’t think Ron will have Alonso back as he has shown himself to be a back-stabbing and unloyall person. All Mclaren need to do is build a proper car again and they will be back up there.

      17. Breton says:

        The fact is that after ALO left they won the WDC the next year.

        Hardly sinking.

        Which is what has happened after HAM left.

        Interesting that ALO and HAM rate each above the others. Mutual respect after their problem year.

    2. Adam says:

      If you listen to what McLaren have said at each race a picture becomes apparent. In China Button and the team confirm that the car has no more front end authority. IE there is no ability to induce anymore down force from the front wing.

      However at the first race this was not the case, but it has progressively gotten worse at each race since….

      Why would this be the case, most likely because the backend is creating down force, more than can be balanced by the front end. We can be sure that they wont want to get rid of the rear down force, but somehow they need to find more down force for the front end to regain the balance. That will be a challenge and will most likely result in a brand new nose solution in upcoming races. It is very doubtful they can find that much new down fore by tweaking what they have. The radical rear end requires a radical front end. Looks to me like they got it right at the rear, more than they ever expected and are now paying the heavy price for an unbalanced solution. McLaren is the little kid in the playground on a seesaw with an elephant sat at the other end. They need another elephant to come even the balance out! The alternative is dump the rear end solution. Not likely because they need an edge on the competition.

    3. Derek Nickels says:

      It tends to be more about geometry of the suspension,but they obviously have Aero issues,so which way do they go? They might get lucky 1st change,then again might not.
      Is it possible that their faired rear suspension is creating too much downforce compared to the front & normal rear end would balance things better?
      Problem is,without any in season testing it is very hard to work out as every current testing session is the 1st practice session at each GP,which is always a different track,so no consistency. Maybe there should be a joker clause available only for 1 test per seasonand only available by pre-approvalwhen applied for due to a marked drop in performance like what McLaren has had,about 2 secs from pre-season testing & 1st GP.

  2. Steven Bremer says:

    This hits the nail on the head. I really feel that this is another lost year for McLaren. If they don’t turn things around quickly they will need to scrap the yea r and focus on 2015. Honda will not put up with supplying a near backmarker team.

    I also feel that Jenson doesn’t have much of a chance to be resigned when his contract is up at the end of the year.

    I am a huge McLaren fan but the last season and a 1/5 have bittered me greatly.

    1. Sebee says:

      Re: Button.
      He will get resigned. McLaren want a WDC on board to satisfy the sponsors until they win one. That’s my bet.

      Re: Honda
      Would it not make sense to make the unit mounting and pacakge similar to Mercedes? This would make McLaren’s job easier, and in the future it would make it simple to sign up Mercedes customers to the Honda engine. After all, we know the MB engine is good and McLaren can pass on the packaging info of it to Honda for the transition.

      Re: Honda Pt. 2.
      Is it me, or does Honda tend to do things a$$-backward?
      I remember the whole Jordan BAR mess, when they went with BAR for factory backing even though Jordan was getting it done. Then the whole BAR mess. And to add insult to injury Brawn wins it with the Double Defuser, which probably made the engine nearly irrelevant. Had he had the Honda money to develop that car it wouldn’t have been close and Honda would be a WDC. Where is that BAR team today by the way? Finally doing what it should have done a decade+ ago with the resources Honda threw at it.

      I hope they get it right THIS time.

      1. Sebee says:

        WCC is what Honda would be of course! Unless…McLaren sign Asimo to replace Button.

      2. Steven M says:

        I don’t feel like Jenson will be with the team next year. The engineers rely on the feedback from the drivers to improve the cars, and it seems like they’re not getting good feedback, and as the team “leader” Jenson would be the main point of reference, and the car isn’t getting any better. But what do I know, right? WHo could replace Jenson? I don’t know, but there has been surprises in the past. I also feel like Alonso is fed up with the Prancing Horse…

      3. iceman says:

        Maybe it’s not Button; maybe it’s the 60% scale driver who drives the car in the wind tunnel who is not giving the engineers good feedback.

      4. Sebee says:

        At his age you think he wants to wait and develop a car and/or new engine? Ferrari will likely be a better car.

      5. Inner Circle says:

        “Alonso is fed up with the Prancing Horse” – certainly, but McLaren couldn’t produce a better car than Ferrari since 1998. (I put 2005 down to the tyres, and perhaps they did in 2011, but neither team was a match for Red Bull anyway.) That’s just about FOREVER. Why would Alonso change teams, to get out of the frying pan and into blazing hell?…

      6. aezy_doc says:

        60% scale driver of an F1 pilot? …Tyrion Lannister? My 6 year old son?

      7. KaRn- says:

        The whole Jenson can’t develop the car thing is old now. Its been said many times on the TV coverage I see that driver feedback is fairly irrelevant now for developing the car. In comparison to how important it was historically. The simulator runs all this information now and these don’t need a driver in to get numbers out of.
        The engineers ask the drivers stuff but they said they know from the sensors whether the stuff is working or not, it is for tuning to driver comfort rather than whether it works or development direction.

        The team ask the drivers for setup information as this is a preference for each driver but again the simulator runs all this information beforehand so a base setup is known for each GP then the driver fine tunes it to their preference.

        As for getting in a new driver, its hard to say if anyone is better surely? Alonso and Hamilton but everyone else is either unproven or unlikely to do better (or unavailable)

      8. deancassady says:

        Agree on Button; who are your likely replacements, Hulkenberg, Alsonso (Asimo, he could still win with a decent car, though the only driver on the grid to win the WDC win an inferior car was indeed at Ferrari), other, Vettel?

      9. Wayne says:

        HAM won the title in 98 without having the best car.

      10. aezy_doc says:

        HAM was 13 in ’98. Did he win a Karting title that year? (after looking at Wikipedia, it turns out he did!)

      11. YDBE says:

        Would Honda try and get Mclaren to sign a Japanese driver like they did to Super Aguri with Takuma Sato? Would like to see Kobayshi in a better car

      12. deancassady says:

        + + on seeing Kobayashi in a better car!

      13. KRB says:

        Wayne, that’s twice you’ve made the ’98/’08 typo. Hard to believe it’s been 16 years since they last won the WCC. It’s not like there’s 30 other contending teams either! They should have won the WCC in 1999 as well.

      14. Ahmad says:

        Unfortunately, I don’t see what top driver option they have. With the form they have, no top driver would want to join them.

        As for Honda, I don’t expect them to win next year. Even a race win would be surprising given that Mercedes, RBR and Ferrari will be moving forward, while McLaren has to deal with a new engine.

        Honda would probably bring the same packaging as Mercedes to be able to easily replace the engine like for like, the McLaren aero is still in the doldrums, and Prodromou is not going to be starting soon enough for 2015.

        I think Honda will actually target a future partnership with RBR, as their F1 engine department is in Milton Keynes, close to the RBR base. They just have to prove next year that they can do a better job than Renault.

      15. Sebee says:

        I have to say I can see RBR sticking their nose into that one.

        Problem is, McLaren aren’t weak on contract side. I gather while they can’t tell Honda what to do, they would assure themselves factory support for 3 or 5 years. Which brings us to, would RBR pay for engines and/or would Honda supply 2 factory backed teams so soon? Remember Jordan and RBR?

      16. j says:

        “Would it not make sense to make the unit mounting and pacakge similar to Mercedes?”

        The current rules already dictate that the dimensions, mounting points and where various components (batteries for example) are located must be the same for all manufacturers.

    2. David in Sydney says:

      Huh? Honda was a backmarker team, mid pack at best, for all the years it was shovelling money into F1 last time only to lose their bottle just at the time of getting their sh*t together… patience while supplying McLaren with a new engine (McLaren may indeed need as much patience as Honda on this score) will be the smart thing to plan for.

      Planning for race wins or podiums out of the box may be hoped for but should not by any means be expected.

    3. Huw says:

      Who would they replace Jensen with?

      Alonso would not leave Ferrari for a team performing worse than Ferrari

      I don’t see they have a better option than Jenson and yet again he is beating a much hyped team mate.

      1. Rodger says:

        Ricciardo only has a 1 year contract at RB…

      2. Huw says:

        And you think he would leave RB for Mclaren !!!

      3. justafan says:

        That may be correct, but do you seriously believe RBR will let Ricci go? They need to cover their seats in case Vettel goes to Ferrari, they need therefore Ricci and his future teammate is probably also called Daniel, or maybe JEV.

      4. Aaron says:

        He’d be mad to leave Red Bull for McLaren.

      5. Gaz Boy says:

        Am I right in saying Daniel has a 1 year contract for this year, but Bull have an option on him for the next couple of years? Seeing how well he has driven so far, I would imagine Christian would exercise that right to keep Daniel.
        Still, this is F1, stranger things have happened…

      6. KRB says:

        He signed a 3-yr contract, no? That’s what the press release, and more importantly Dr. Marko, said. Of course didn’t Perez sign a 2 or 3-yr contract at McLaren?

      7. Elie says:

        Mclaren will finish higher and win races with Alonso- thats the point !

      8. Huw says:

        Maybe, but as I said I can not see him moving to a worse performing team than Ferrari, so I don’t understand your point

      9. Elie says:

        @Huw – you answered your own question then asked the same question…

        If you agree the answer is both Alonso & Mclaren maybe able to finish higher than Fernando at Ferrari- why do you ask the same pointless question–because that is exactly why he would want to
        Go..Its also exactly why Mclaren might want him…

      10. justafan says:

        Alonso has a contract ’till 2016. And I don’t believe he will go to McLaren in 2017 unless Ronny is no longer there.

      11. Jimbob says:

        Pffft… No driver on the grid would be winning races with this years McLaren. I’m going to get ripped for this but I actually don’t think there’d be a huge difference between Alonso and JB in terms of points come the end of a season.

        Remember, LH beat Alonso in his prime as a rookie and JB beat Hamilton in his prime. Now, I’m not deluded – I know both LH and FA are quicker than JB – but in terms of consistently putting the car where it should be in a race JB is up there right behind the top 3 or 4 drivers.

      12. Elie says:

        @jimbob@justafan I’le start by saying I really dislike Fernando and I never thought there would ever be a situation we he would go back to Mclaren ,But apparently according to James, Ron Dennis would consider it if he thought it would benefit the team.

        I wont waste my commentary on Button given everything Ive said about him has been vindicated. Just look back at the last few years driver comparisons anywhere and he is not on the same page as Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton or Raikkonen- he has benefited by having team mates make cars go faster for him in the past but he is clearly lost when he has to do that himself.

        Ferrari have underperformed for 5 years and Alonso does not have very many years left in F1. Last years frustrations from Alonso & subsequent comments by Luca Di Montezemolo highlighted that the relationship is at a turning point. We all know if a team or driver is unhappy a contract can be ended very easily.

        Alot will depend on how Ferrari / Mclaren perform later this year and what developments they have for 2015-16. But Im sure Alonsos manager will be doing the rounds later on. My comment was mostly addressing the issue of a “worse performing team”- and I was suggesting that Mclaren can build the fastest cars as evidenced in 2012 , & highly competive cars before that- Ferrari have NOT. Having a high performing driver can be the key to them going forward.

      13. Elie says:

        @jimbob- if you already expect to “get ripped for this..”- re your comments about JB- its probably because you already know you comments are wrong- so why say them – why waste time…

      14. Jimbob says:

        @ Elie, I said it because I don’t think I’m wrong – Everybody seems to think JB is slow and it’s just not true. Like I said, there are faster drivers but he still gets the results in the races. When he was partnering LH at McLaren and everyone was saying he’d get destroyed I said on this site that he would be no more than a couple of race wins behind Hamilton in terms of points come the end of the season and look what happened…

        And to your point about JB not being able to make a car faster on his own… By your logic surely that makes Alonso rubbish at developing too? And quite a few other drivers if you sit and think about it.

        I don’t think for a second that JB is the best on the grid but I think people judge him unfairly all the time – He gets nowhere near the credit he deserves and other drivers get quite a bit more than they deserve.

        But hey, all we’ve got is opinions – Only the F1 engineers really know the drivers strengths and weaknesses.

      15. Schnell! schnell! says:

        Kobayashi. Seriously. He’s been spoken of very highly by the Ferrari GT engineers for his feedback and his,,,,,enthusiasm has never been questioned. He’s more like Kimi than Kimi is nowadays.

      16. Huw says:

        Seriously – No

    4. AuraF1 says:

      I think it’s more likely Kevin who’s on shaky ground – he was hyped as the next Lewis and everyone was going on about just how much he’d demolish Jenson by – but at Bahrain, where Kevin had the most F1 running (so couldn’t say he was a track novice compared to his teammate) and Button was faster all weekend.

      Given Ron was perfectly happy forcing Perez out to put Kevin in, I don’t think he’s above jettisoning the lower scoring driver to make room for another new boy (or Alonso if things don’t improve at Ferrari).

      1. Señor Sjon says:

        Only Lewis had a few laps around the globe in testing mileage, a luxury Magnussen does not have.

        Also, Lewis could learn from the best driver in F1 at that time, test between races and have generally good car.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        I agree – I didn’t say *I* thought Kevin was in exactly the same boat as Lewis by any means – I meant he can be beaten by Jenson by a certain margin and can put that down to being a rookie – but the people going on about Jenson being dropped for performing poorly but forget that Ron is pretty ruthless – if Kevin can’t up his game, there isn’t the soft, fluffy protective environment engendered by Whitmarsh and Lowe any more (yes, even Lewis benefited from Whitmarsh despite the usual conspiracy nuts out there).

    5. Derek Nickels says:

      Jenson won’t have any problem getting signed again,and it probably will be with McLaren again due to the Honda engine.Honda always loved Jenson & it’s a good marketing move to go with a known quantity when returning to a market.
      If not i can see a number of teams swooping,like Lotus,Williams,and Ferrari if it doesn’t work out with Raikonnen or Alonso any longer.All the mid grid teams would also be an option,the only teams he’d have no hope getting a drive at are Red Bull & Torro Rosso,they have their talent pre-planned,& also especially as Jenson has been Monster aligned for years.
      So he’ll be on the grid for the foreseeable future, mark my words

  3. HP says:

    James, off topic, do you know what Martin Whitmarsh is doing these days? is he still with McLaren?

    1. James Allen says:

      No he’s negotiated a settlement and left

      Quite a few £million

      1. foreverf1 says:

        Rumoured to be in excess of 10 million pounds.

      2. Random 79 says:

        “he’s negotiated a settlement and left”

        With a big smile on his dial I imagine :)

      3. NickH says:

        Lucky man IMO, £10m for being a nice bloke. Jobs for boys

      4. davexxx says:

        Would love to read HIS memoirs!! ;-)

      5. Curro says:

        Ouch! What is the price for Ron’s EGO mania? He will never learn. Martin was much better. Martin and Stefano is better than Ron and somebody else.

      6. Femi Akins says:

        Whoa! Are team principals on that much? I.e.top premiership manager salary

      7. Cliff says:

        You need to remember that MW was CEO of pretty much all of the companies within McLaren Group as well as Team Principle of McLaren F1. If the sums mentioned are correct, i’d say that was a fair price.

      8. Mike Martin says:

        Would not be surprised to see him in Bernies job in a while…

      9. James Clayton says:

        I think you’d probably be the *only* person not surprised at such an appointment!

      10. Yago says:

        In response to your comment in which you tell me to do my homework… I know from first hand that the emails given by Alonso AND DE LA ROSA (first mistake, they were both of them who “cost Ron 100 M”, not only Alonso), were absolutely not any main proofs, and of course were not the evidences by which the case was re opened. If you think that a couple of e mails were the main evidences against Mclaren, then yes, you are a bit ” that word I am not going to say to pass moderation”. If you think Mclaren were finned 100 M by a couple of e mails, you guys are crazy.

        That english wikipedia article is wrong, as are so many others, as a physicist I can tell you. You guys are absolutely misinformed.

  4. HP says:

    DC, in his article on BBC, said that McLaren cars have some issues with their fuel (Mobil).

    1. Sebee says:

      What’s all this talk about fuel suddenly? As if it is an effort to bring more visibility to fuel in F1.

      Is there a viscosity problem? Is it not misting finely enough under pressure? I know it’s not diesel, but I can hardly believe that Shell didn’t know what to do with it’s fuel under these pressures and turbo after running in the Audi LMP cars and the engine’s crazy fuel injection pressures. Or after testing pre-season.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Fuel is the new tyres :)

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Ah, but Random, can you get petrol tyres and diesel tyres? Come to think of it, can you get bio-tyres as well?

      3. Random 79 says:

        No, but that’s what makes fuel so much more exciting! :D

      4. Phenom says:

        Sorry but your comment smacks of uninformed armchair critic Sebee – any variance in running a homologated unit whether it be fuel, software maps, packaging, mounting points absolutely everything makes a difference as we are clearly seeing this year. DC isnt making stuff up for fun he is someone in the paddock week in week out and he will hear things that don’t get posted on any F1 site ;)

      5. Sebee says:

        Well, first we have Total with new fuel that will bring .3 or .4s at Barcelona. Now the Shell fuel is no good.

        I understand that there are optimizations to be made everywhere. But at this point I can hardly believe that fuel partners were just introduced to these engines, their needs and/or that these fuel companies don’t know how to supply F1 teams with best formulations. I remember back in the Schumi Ferrari days Shell was doing fancy things with fuel. I bet you Ferrari tried many fuels on the bench too.

        I bet you not everyone here knew about mounting points and packaging engine regs and other details. When I don’t know I ask and so should others. Knowledgeable fans who read FIA rules daily in the WC can jump in and use their knowledge for good by sharing, instead of using it for evil. ;-)

      6. Sebee says:

        Oh…and I certainly didn’t say DC is wrong. Simply surprised that fuel is not optimized already.

      7. Patrick says:

        There is currently massive technological improvements being made to the fuel in order to maximise the performance of these new engines. It will be ongoing for some time. All new technology takes time to perfect. A lot of the future power gains, reliability and economy will be as a result of fuel.

    2. Sebee says:

      BTW….can teams change fuel from race to race?

      1. HP says:

        Yes I think they can, think they bring different fuel for hot/cold races, but don’t quote me on this.

      2. neilmurg says:

        @Sebee
        your thoughts seem to be split over two submissions.
        Are you suffering from post-haste?

      3. Breton says:

        Senna benefited massively when racing against Mansell in the Williams as Shell had special fuel just for qualifying!!!!

  5. Jean-Christophe says:

    3/10. Maybe 5/10 for Magnussen as he’s a rookie. With “hindsight” Whitmarsh really needed to go. A nice likeable guy can’t succeed in the world of the shark.

    1. Optimaximal says:

      Dolphins do quite well against sharks…

      1. Elie says:

        Exactly..all this nice bs is really annoying. You can be a strong leader decisive leader and still be a decent bloke

      2. Torchwood Five says:

        Good comment.

      3. Vivek says:

        LOL. He will do well elsewhere. Good guys do not have to finish last.

        I guess Stefano was also a good guy. Sometimes, you need to have a trifle bad in you to succeed in F1.

        I do feel for Martin and to an extent for Stefano as well.

      4. jake says:

        Dolphins are ruthless killing machines, but with a smile…:-)

      5. Rudy says:

        So, Lewis is the shark or the dolphin? Would like to see HAM beaten fair and square by ROS.

      6. Random 79 says:

        Plus they’re fast, cheeky, and they like to have fun and lot’s of casual sex.

        If I believed in reincarnation I’d say that James Hunt came back as a dolphin :)

    2. Random 79 says:

      Massa did okay

    3. Random 79 says:

      Ricciardo’s doing quite well for himself also :)

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        And Adrian and co to be honest – I thought this year’s Bull would be a stinker – so did most people on this forum actually – but if it wasn’t for a lack of power and torque from that engine, sorry PU, I’m sure Dan and Seb would be given those silver dream machines a very honest living.

  6. Rich B says:

    “We have to believe we will win a race” why? I’m all for positive thinking but be realistic. hope he proves me wrong mind

    I’m not concerned about kev’s recent form, rookie’s get little testing mileage and he’s shown great potential, button’s no slouch either

    will Honda have copied the trick turbo layout the Mercedes has?

    1. Optimaximal says:

      My guess is Honda, Renault & Ferrari will all be running it next year (or in the latter two cases, as close as they can given some parts are frozen).

      1. deancassady says:

        What have Mercedes not ‘let out of the bag’ to extend/maintain their technical superiority, it’s there, for sure?

      2. Patrick says:

        They have to supply their customers with exactly the same engine that they are useing. If they were caught doing otherwise there would be serious trouble. I am sure that they are not looking for an”engine gate”

      3. deancassady says:

        @ Patrick
        There are plenty of ‘soft spots’ in the tests to measure compliance for equal engine performance across customers.
        Didn’t you know that Lotus was running an inferior engine to Red Bull and Torro Rosso for a few races.
        Anyways, there are plenty of avenues for ‘optimization’ based on the detailed knowledge of how the engines work, that the works team has over the customers.

        It would be extremely naive to believe that Mercedes does not have power unit advantage over the Mercedes customer teams, therefore power unit advantage over everyone else on the F1 grid.

      4. Ahmad says:

        Honda and the rest will know the performance level and packaging of the Mercedes engine, even though I would expect Mercedes to improve it next year.

        The real problem for McLaren is that even if Honda do match the other engine manufacturers for reliability and performance in 2015 (which is not guaranteed as they are coming late to the game), McLaren have proven time and again that they can not match their competitors in terms of aero development. That’s they desperately need Prodromou to start as early as possible to pinch Adrian’s ideas for next year. But again, Adrian will have improved his RBR design by then.

        So really, only the brave would predict a race win for McLaren this year or next. I personally expect them to be behind Mercedes, RBR and Ferrari for this year and next. Like this year, they’ll be probably fighting Williams and Force India.

        Also, I don’t see which top driver would want to join McLaren next year. Alonso is very happy to show Ferrari how he is beating Raikkonen, and this alone brings him enough glory to compensate for not winning the title this year.

  7. CRP says:

    McLaren – 4/10
    Jenson Button – 8,5/10
    Kevin Magnussen – 8/10

    … don’t blame the drivers for the lack of competitive equipment ;)

    1. Blackmamba says:

      Yet Hulkenberg is doing a much better job in a Force India! Out of the box that car was the 2nd best in the 1st pre season testing but Button has contrived to take them backwards. His set up work is abismal and if the engineers are getting the wrong feedback from their lead driver then that’s a recipe for disaster, which is exactly what’s happening right now. Below 5 for Jensen because he has FAILED to find the best set up for that car which gives engineers a clear idea on what direction to follow in terms of developing the car. It can only be set up issues because no team has yet brought any significant upgrades but for McLaren to fail to score points in a race already tells me the drivers too need to take some responsibility even though the car is clearly not good enough! With the best engine on the grid Alonso and Hamilton would be able to make that car the 2nd best on the grid! I have no doubt.

      1. Jimbob says:

        If JB couldn’t set a car up and provide decent feedback he’d have been out of F1 years ago.

      2. Andrew J says:

        As ever, armchair experts point to Button as being the root cause. He would have been giving them feedback in pre-season testing, remember, and such feedback helped get the good result in the opener.

        Presumably, when we get appraisals on Ferrari and Red Bull, Kimi and Seb will be scoring below 5 as they clearly can’t get their engineers to set their cars up to match the Mercedes.

      3. All revved-up says:

        Its not matching Mercedes – it’s that McLaren is not even matching Force India – with the same engine.

        For McLaren to be struggling against Force India – what a disaster for a team with the F1 pedigree that MvLaren has.

        What’s the reason? If I knew I’d be running an F1 team rather than sitting on a bar stool. My 5 cents is – either it’s another transition year before the Honda engines or Button/Magnussen is not providing the feedback and direction that Hamilton did.

        When Hamilton joined Mercedes, McLaren slumped and Mercedes became a race win contender – albeit a rear tyre limited contender in 2013. But what do I really know – back to the beer . . . .

      4. Robert says:

        @All Revved – But JB IS providing the feedback. He was quoted all last race weekend – even in practices – discussing the lack of front-end bite. He discussed in graphical terms how it felt and what it did to the tyres.

        The problem is that the engineers have no quick fixes, even when given good feedback. That’s not Jenson’s fault, and its stupid to say “drive around it” when your tyres don’t even work.

  8. Mike says:

    Can you explain the 30 hours of combined CFD and wind tunnel time? Is that 30 hours per week, month or year? Either way that is not a lot of time.

    After a promising start Mclaren have been disappointing. 6/10, without the podium finishes in Melbourne it would have been a 5/10.

    1. Old Dry Joint says:

      I wondered about that as well:-

      http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/8713/fia.html

      Says 30hours wind on time per 8 week period. Wind on is 15m/s and greater.

      I’d give Mag 6, Button, 6, Dennis 2..

      Mitch

  9. Blackmamba says:

    Pretty generous mark a 6. I would say a 4 truly represents a car which has the best engine on the grid but being out performed by Williams, Force India and sometimes Torro Rosso. This is because they are MCLAREN for crying out loud and I remember everybody and his dog slamming Lewis for bailing arguing that they are always fighting for championships. This is the view from which you have to judge them and on that front they are failing miserably. They are a mess and giving them a 6 is essentially saying they have passed, which they clearly have not. FAIL FAIL FAIL. And the drivers do not deserve anything above 5 either. They have managed to drive the car around the tracks a few times but they have NOT been racing!

  10. Optimaximal says:

    It’s probably worth mentioning McLaren have had 2 retirements, not one.

    1. KRB says:

      Yes, or at least two non-finishes. I hate that they classify you – provided you’ve done 90% of the race distance – even if you don’t see the chequered flag.

  11. Narshe says:

    McLaren – 3 (Judged by their own standards, they are doing terribly. Only reason it’s not lower is that there IS at least an improvement from last year)

    Button – 6 (Not really done anything wrong, but not looked on fire either)

    Magnussen – 8 (Holding his own against his vastly more experienced, world championship winning team-mate)

    1. Joshua says:

      Agree totally.

      For rookie im impressed with magnussen and he has shown good pace. I truly believe the car has issues making it near undriveable. Score 7.5

      Jenson – good job with what he has. ….could do better. Score 7

      Meclaren -fastest car at the end of 2012. …best engine ….. One of the largest
      budgets on F1. .. own wind tgunneliy disappointing. Score 3

      1. Paul says:

        The thing about Kevin being so good and Jenson just average is wrong. Don’t forget KM is new to F1 so these cars and the way they drive is all he knows. JB has had to change the way he drives to adapt to the cars

    2. Andrew J says:

      I’d have given Magnussen 8 after the first race, but he’s not impressed me that much since. Solid, but not spectacular.

      Jenson did a good job in the first race too after yellow flags screwed up his qualifying, and but for clutch problems in Bahrain could have had at least a 5th place. He’s also silenced those who said Kevin would blow him away.

      JB – 6.5 points
      KM – 6.5 points
      McLaren – 5 points

    3. Will agree with you giving a higher score to K.Mag.Button does not deserve a 6.The car was built around him making it clear that Hamilton,despite all what the pundits said of him,was the driving force whilst he was around.Two years of crappy feedback from the lead driver.Anyone who thinks the switch to Honda engine is set, game and match, should stop dreaming.Mercedes put in years of research before coming up with this lethal weapon.Remember,no one could match RBR with the blown diffuser system?They were a far step ahead.So will Mercedes be.

  12. radohc says:

    Did you notice Jenson is shaved clean again?

    1. Curro says:

      Ron’s policy over the years, after Prost and Senna
      Long hair is dangerous

    2. Doobs says:

      worth 1/10th a lap

    3. Satish says:

      Nice spot.

  13. Paige says:

    I think what 2014 shows, more than anything, is how far both McLaren and Ferrari have fallen.

    The two teams were the giants of Formula One from the 1970s until 2008. Since then, they have steadily declined to being effectively midfield teams, while Mercedes and Red Bull have taken charge and amassed organizations loaded with talent that are brutally efficient machines. If McLaren and Ferrari want to get back to the top, they have to act very very fast and have quite an overhaul.

    I’m not sure what rating I would give them. What I would say is that McLaren is the 4th best Mercedes-powered team right now. And that’s a disgrace for them. The Honda money better prove very effective next year, and they need to line up a sponsor fast.

    1. Joe S says:

      It really annoys me when people talk of McLaren as if they are a midfield team. Since 2009 you say?

      2009 started terribly but they came back strongly to finish the year as possibly the quickest car. How about 2010, where they won races and challenged for the championship until the final race. In 2011 they won races and were the second best team. 2012′s errors in pitstops and reliability is what cost them the title that year.

      Last season was atrocious and this year looks like being a poor one. But a midfield team?

      If anyone should be considered as a “fallen from grace” team, it should be Williams. Possibly Ferrai. But not McLaren. They’ve not been that good recently but they do, most seasons, consistently win races.

      If in 3 or 4 seasons they have not challenged for the title once then they can be called a midfield team.

      1. JK Meyers says:

        (Disclaimer) I am McLaren fan. Hell, I drive a 12c.

        The team finished mid-field last year, and despite a fortuitous season opener this year, they are finishing mid-field. Also qualifying likewise.

        No matter grand history, they ARE now a mid-field team.

        Change can only come about with a sober assessment of reality. It’s my impression there is an insufficient amount of that at Woking, and a stubborn belief such as you express, Joe S.

      2. furstyferret says:

        I drive a honda civic with a rattling exhaust

  14. Warren Buys says:

    As a Mclaren fan, it is hard to watch each race these days. I would have to agree that 6 out of 10 is being fairly generous considering this is Mclaren we are talking about here, they, we, exist to win, nothing else. I am always the optimist and will stick with them thick and thin however something has to change dramatically for the team, especially before focus turns fully to Honda for 2015. Unfortunately this is F1 and a dramatic change like say 1 second increase is extremely unlikely, since everyone else is developing at their maximum rate it would mean a 1 second Bonus leap forward. Fingers crossed.

  15. Phil says:

    They need an inspirational driver. Button is great on his day and a solid points scorer but he’s not a team leader. If I was Ron Dennis, I’d be doing everything to re-sign Alonso. Forget the past, if Ron wants to win he needs either Hamilton, Vettel or Alonso in the car. Ironically, Alonso is probably his most likely possibility and the most desirable. Pair him with a rookie and give him undisputed no 1 status. Build the the team around him for a few years. At least then they will know the driver isn’t the problem.

    The question is how do you persuade Alonso to leave an underperforming Ferrari for an even more underperforming McLaren.

    1. Mike Martin says:

      Alonso at McLaren? This will NOT happen. Ron came out of retirement explicitly to make sure this would never happen. I don’t care what I hear elsewhere. I am sure Ron says he loves Alonso and would do it for the team bla bla bla. Nonsense. Alonso cost Ron almost 100m. I am sure he is still pissed and angry about that. I would be…..

      1. James Allen says:

        Ron has said he would have Alonso back. Im not so sure Alonso would want to put himself back in that position

      2. Yago says:

        “Alonso cost Ron almost 100 M” Hahahah that’s the most funny and stupid thing I have heard for a long time. Poor Ron. Seriously, the misinformation most of you british people have on this topic is amazing. Very well played Ron!

      3. Mike Martin says:

        “Seriously, the misinformation most of you british people have on this topic is amazing. Very well played Ron!”
        Funny you say that. Looks who is talking. The pot calling the kettle black….

        I have pasted this from Wiki:

        On the morning of the race (August 5), Alonso met Ron Dennis in his motorhome and allegedly threatened to send his email exchanges with McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa and Coughlan to the FIA. According to Max Mosley, Ron Dennis informed him of the conversation and told Mosley that the threat was an empty one, “There’s no information, there’s nothing to come out; I can assure you that if there was something, Max, I would have told you.” Mosley subsequently retracted the implication that Dennis had lied.[26]
        On 5 September 2007, the FIA announced that it had received new evidence regarding the case, and would re-open the investigation on September 13. This replaced the planned appeal hearing.[26] It later transpired that the new evidence was the driver’s emails that were sent to Bernie Ecclestone, F1′s commercial rights holder who then informed the FIA

        End Wiki paste:

        You might want to do a little homework before calling peoples comments stupid.

    2. Ahmed says:

      +1

      Alonso has to be persuaded The way lauda and brawn convinced hamilton to join them by showing him their vision, innovation and the desire to work as members of the organisation as opposed to the mclaren concept of being an employee of the organisation.

      1. Ahmad says:

        Well, Hamilton never worked for Brawn or Lauda before, whereas Alonso has already seen what McLaren are made of, and I don’t think in his right mind, he would risk it back there. That’s the same team that is so good at losing titles even with the best car.

        The only two teams Alonso would happily consider joining are RBR (which he tried last year) and Mercedes. Anything else is worse than Ferrari.

    3. Ahmad says:

      A top driver helps greatly, but to keep one, a team needs to be near the top every year (remember Raikkonen, Hamilton losing patience with McLaren, even Hakkinen retired early because the team kept losing performance).

      Driving for Ferrari carries more prestige than driving for McLaren, so even if the two teams were performing at a similar level (which they don’t, as Ferrari have been outperforming McLaren for most of the last 15 years), there is absolutely no reason for Alonso to go to McLaren.

      McLaren have no real top option. Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso are not going to move to McLaren any time soon. Raikkonen is not impressing anyone right now. Hulkenberg is probably their best bet, but probably too risky for Dennis to pair with Magnussen, and I am not sure he’d be interested after his experience with Sauber.

      The McLaren-Honda partnership of the 80s was great, as they had world champions wanting to join them. Times have changed with greater challengers in the form of RBR and now Mercedes. It’s tough times ahead for McLaren…

    4. R says:

      I believe Alonso is the best driver on the grid and also agree Mclaren is wasting their time without a very top driver. Has Alonso reached his peak though? Button and Kimmi seem to be on a fast decline, we saw Webber fail massively once he passed his best. How do you imagine Vettel and Dennis would get along?

      Mclaren 2/10 (Qualifying 1/10)
      Jenson 3/10
      Mag 6/10 (still undecided, not beating Button in qualifying is a huge concern)

      1. Phil says:

        I think Alonso has 2-3 more good years in him at least after this one. I think if he’d won a couple more championships then he’d probably have lost motivation but I sense there is a real hunger there to prove he is worth more than 2 championships. He should have four if not five by now.

        I could imagine Vettel and Dennis working quite well TBH.

      2. Richard says:

        The only reason Webber wasn’t competitive anymore in the late stage of his carreer was because of the Pirrelli tires which were pretty much out of rubber after the formation lap and a bit.

    5. Torchwood Five says:

      “Pair him with a rookie and give him undisputed no 1 status.”

      They wouldn’t go there. Under Ron Dennis, the team TRIES to give each driver equal status until mathematically impossible.

      1. Phil says:

        If Dennis is serious about doing whatever it takes to return to winning ways then he ought to be prepared to sacrifice that principle (at least temporarily) to secure the services of a top driver.

        I genuinely think having a driver of Alonso’s quality would be such a boost for the team morale that it would instantly improve their team performance all round (in addition to the improved driver performance).

        Much as I like Button, he hasn’t been good for McLaren.

      2. Thompson says:

        Sorry but this is the 2nd time this ‘#1′ thing has been raised. If a driver cannot compete on a level playing field within a team he is not worth hiring.

        Why would you wish that on any young driver? Magnusson has earned his right to make history in this sport – allow him that right.

    6. Steven M says:

      Vettel? What is Vettel doing with a underperforming RB?

      1. Phil says:

        Sure he’s struggled for 2 or 3 races with these new cars but it would be foolish to write him off. I don’t buy this idea that he’s lucked into four world championships by being in the best car and having a poor team mate. Best car or not, he has delivered consistently for 5 years on the trot (including 2009) and I think his best years are still ahead of him.

        Either way, he’d be a massive asset to McLaren compared with their current drivers.

  16. JB says:

    My guess is their fancy mushroom concept does not work in real life. It is clear they are struggling with Aero.

    One of the problem is that the mushroom system is placed on the suspension. As the suspension moves with respect to diffuser/car, the airflow is continuously changing.

    I doubt anyone is interested in copying this idea.

    1. Martin says:

      The movement of the car is part of the idea. The aim is that at low speed the effect is greater, and the car does seem to have good low speed traction. At high speeds the greater downforce squashes the springs in a way that allow the gap to open and the drag to reduce.

      But since the car is very poor in medium and high speed corners it is pretty safe to assume something isn’t working properly.

      I suspect other teams would like study it to see if there is potential, but as it trying create an interaction between the floor and the rear wing it potentially impacts the entire concept for the floor of the car, including the front wing, so it would be a lot of effort. If it could work it would help the rear wing pull the air out of the diffuser.

    2. KRB says:

      Yeah, remember in the pre-season where we thought that it might be this year’s DDD? Seems like it definitely helps with downforce, but the increased drag isn’t worth the benefit.

  17. Kbdavies says:

    Part of the problem is certainly the drivers.
    One should not underestimate how much a drivers feedback is important to car development. Button is likes a neutral car and is sensitive to grip and tyre temperature. Attempting to develop a neutral car that generates heats into it’s tyres easily is a near impossibility.
    Simply put, Button has never been able to develop a car forward in his career. In fact, his Brawn of 2009 steadily progressed backwards as the season went on. Also, Mclaren went into a downward spiral went Whitmarsh followed his development direction in 2012, before changing it back to Lewis’s.
    Magnussen is a rookie, and whilst he is good, he is certainly not special. His feedback will always be compromised as he needs to get used to the car.

    Jenson also crowed about how much input he had in the 2013 and 2014 car. Now we can see the result of that input; and no matter what upgrades McLaren bring to the car, their drivers are simply unable to get the most out of it and give an accurate assessment of how valid those update are – thus the factory can never if to progress along that particular path.
    If McLaren are serious, they need to get rid of Jenson after this season. They cannot get rid of Magnussen as that will make their knee jerk and confused reaction of replacing Perez look even more silly.

    1. Mike Martin says:

      +1 good post

      “They cannot get rid of Magnussen as that will make their knee jerk and confused reaction of replacing Perez look even more silly.”

      I can assure you they can and they will if Kevin does not step up. After Hungary Kevin will experience serious top team pressure. He will need to start out qualy and out race Jenson multiple times just like Ricciardo is doing to Vettel at RedBull.If not, Kevin can go mature at a backmarker in 2015.

    2. deancassady says:

      You may have something, considering how much more of a factor the ‘development wars’ have become in F1; now you MUST have a driver, even a driver pairing, which can deliver that component to enable the team’s technical advancement.

      Your opinion on Alonso and Ferrari would be appreciated.

    3. Carl Craven says:

      “Jenson also crowed about how much input he had in the 2013 and 2014 car.”

      As a Button follower I didn’t see any of that.

      1. Kbdavies says:

        @Carl – Most F1 site and blogs did report Jenson’s comments at the time – car launches in 2013 and 2014. He claimed both times; esp in 2013 about how much input he had in developing the car to his taste and driving style.
        Ferrari have always move forward as the season progresses – no matter how bad they start it in the first place. Accurate feedback of the car’s abilities and current aero/ updates is crucial to determine development direction. Based on Ferrari’s progress during the respective seasons that Alonso has been driving for them, we can assume his feedback help develop the car forward.
        Also, remember that McLaren started their 2009 season with an absolutely atrocious car. By mid season, it was winning races.
        Simply, i am yet to see Jenson develop a car forward as the season progresses. His feed back badly compromised McLaren in 2011 and 2012. We can see the effects in both the 2013 and 2014

      2. Carl Craven says:

        Lewis to Perez late 2012 “You’re going to get a awesome car next year”

        Was Lewis lying? There is enough literature going around that the 2013 car was designed around Lewis because it was more or less done before Lewis decided to leave.

        You then expect Jenson to come along and fix a car with setup and feedback that basically has an intrinsic design fault built into it?

        I think your opinion make unreasonable expectations.

        2009 Brawn went backwards for 2 key reasons. The team had little money to spend on updates and had to make a decision about when to begin work on the 2010 car. Not because of Button’s feedback.

        The 2009 Mclaren improved not through Lewis’s feedback or input. Infact they took the lead from Jenson Button’s car.

        No one is saying Button is the best F1 driver but there are plenty of people constantly doing whatever they can to discredit him with whatever reasoning they can invent.

        People don’t luckily get to hang around F1 as long as Button has for NO REASON.

      3. Kbdavies says:

        Carl Craven –

        “here is enough literature going around that the 2013 car was designed around Lewis ” – Can you show where you got this information? As i have NEVER seen any literature suggesting this claim.
        You also forget that Ruebens started to run Jenson close and even win races in the later part of 2009.
        Also your claim that “The 2009 Mclaren improved not through Lewis’s feedback or input.” does not make any sense, as the engineers can only get feedback/input from the people driving the car – Lewis and Kovalinen. This feedback/ input is what validates the development path the engineers choose to take. Jenson did not drive the MP4-24, he was was driving the Brawn BGP-001.

        No one is discrediting Jenson, we are just saying exactly what he is.

      4. Mike Martin says:

        Carl Craven: “The 2009 Mclaren improved not through Lewis’s feedback or input. Infact they took the lead from Jenson Button’s car.” Nonsense. Button was not even driving for McLaren. He was at brawn GP.

        There are more features incorrect in your post.

    4. Steven M says:

      My guess? Jenson wont last the season…

    5. Andrew J says:

      To be fair, in 2009 Brawn didn’t have the resources to develop the car. They started ahead but other teams were far better financed to play catch up.

      I’m not saying that JB might have been able to do a better job with his feedback, but it wasn’t solely down to him.

  18. Timmay says:

    Mclaren 5/10
    Kevin 5/10
    Jenson 1/10 – he is just terrible in these 2014 spec cars. Honda want him gone.

    1. Spinodontosaurus says:

      Did Jenson kill your cat or something…?

    2. Ahmad says:

      You mean Honda would want him gone or did Honda call you to clarify their position with regards to Button?

      Honda would probably want a Japanese driver along a top driver, but I can’t see it happening next year…

      Hulkenberg seems to be their best option, but not sure Dennis or Hulkenberg would take the risk.

  19. Timmay says:

    If Mclaren is a six then force India must be a 9.5

  20. CH says:

    Thank you James. Wondered what became of him. Ron may have uber strong manner/words but personally I don’t see EB/RD doing any better than when MW was there. Hope Honda changes their mind and supplies engine to another team so not all eggs in one basket. And I’m a McLaren fan.

    1. Ahmad says:

      Honda will be targeting RBR for 2016, as both have their factories in Milton Keynes.

  21. foreverf1 says:

    What else can they do with that car without a major redesign? If I understand correctly you cannot change the butterfly suspension without changing the gearbox placement which leads to redesigning of other components.

    How expensive is this going to be and is it worth it? Why not concentrate on next year’s car.

    Just rebuild for the future with Honda, Hulkenberg and Magnussen.

    1. Ahmad says:

      I would agree with going with Hulkenberg over Button.

      But the main problem is that while Mercedes, RBR and Ferrari will be going an evolutionary path to 2015 with stable regulations, McLaren is once again going for a revolution, and we all know what happened the last times they went this way (remember 2013 and 2009?). So new engine and new aero, just don’t expect too much next year, and it’ll be fine.

    2. Steven M says:

      I remember in 2010( I think) Ferrari had this same problem and what they ended up doing was building a cradle that mounted on the transmission, that way they didn’t have to re_homologate it transmission.

      Thing is that regulations are probably going to stay pretty much the way they are now for next year, so whatever they learn this year applies for 2015 as well.

  22. Methusalem says:

    Would Hamilton make a difference if he was still with McLaren?

    1. Mike Martin says:

      Mechanically absolutely not. If the clutch does not work it will also not work on Hamiltons car. I the car lacks down-force it will be the same for Lewis. If pit-stops are bad it will be bad for Lewis.(why does this sound so familiar)

      Lewis’s talent will win 3 or 4 tenths. 2014 McLaren would still be nowhere

      Driver feedback I am not so sure. I strongly believe Lewis has strong setup knowledge and knows how to give good feedback to engineers. I am sure Button can do this too but it does not show when he is first driver at a team. All teams he has been in the past(except Brawn) had poor setups and poor car characteristics. Maybe it’s coincidence, maybe it’s his driver style, maybe it’s nothing.

      1. Alexander Supertramp says:

        Well, if anyone could get heat into those tyres, his name would be Hamilton, right?

      2. Kbdavies says:

        Of course Lewis would have made a difference. He was faster than Jenson on race pace and qualifying pace – so he would definitely have qualified higher, and dragged the car to a higher finishing position. However, there is nothing he could do about mechanical failures obviously.
        Based on Rosberg’s performance, Mercedes would have had only a 2 poles this season, and we would be saying the car main advantage in race trim, or saying the Mercs speed advantage is cancelled out in the wet.
        Also, if not for Alonso, we would be judging the Ferrari on Kimi’s performance. A driver does make a large difference. A good driver allows you to benchmark EXACTLY where the car is in terms of potential.

      3. Fastfastfast says:

        Love this reply! +1000

      4. Davej says:

        Mate, best post I have read all day. +1000 as well

    2. Kingszito says:

      Hamilton’s one lap time is a benchmark for any car. If Hamilton goes slow in a car that car is definitely slow, but that couldn’t be said of Button.

      1. Phil says:

        Exactly. With Button you can never be sure if the car is under-performing or the driver. He had some woeful weekends where Hamilton in the same car was doing well.

        This is my point. McLaren need a driver who they can be 100% sure is maximising the car’s capability. To improve the car they need to remove variance in driver performance from the equation. Button is too inconsistent to do this.

        You need a driver who can highlight the floors in a car. Not a car which highlights the flaws of the driver.

      2. Kbdavies says:

        Well said!

    3. Matthew Cheshire says:

      I’m very sure he wouldn’t. His struggles in the last few years at MacLaren were obvious. He and Jenson flattered the cars with the results they got, but Hamilton became erratic and accident prone by trying to push harder. MacLaren were always promising upgrades that usually made no difference against Red Bull.

      Hamilton was clearly frustrated at MacLaren and could see the future at Mercedes, contrary to most onlookers. You have to think Hamilton would have made it clear what he thought was wrong before he “bailed out”. That was years ago and MacLaren are still in the same shape.

    4. tifoso says:

      Yes, Lewis would make a difference. I think Fernando has shown you can get extra time out of an underperforming car. And in my opinion, Lewis is the only other driver in F1 right now who could match that effort. But, even with Senna-esque effort, I think the maximum he could get out would be an added second. And that would be something, indeed. A half second would be more realistic.

    5. forestial says:

      No. Given the current uncompetitiveness of the car he would be distracted and tweeting, as he did before.

      HAM is great to watch when he has a car that is competitive but the 2014 McLaren sadly is not there and I don’t think he would change that.

    6. Ahmad says:

      Yes, both him and Alonso would most definitely have made a difference.

      Skill-wise, Hamilton would get more from the car than Button, especially in quali, but his problem would be loss of motivation for driving a dog of a car. That’s why he left the team because he lost his trust in the team’s ability to compete at the top.

      Alonso would also have made a difference, just look how bad his car was in Bahrain.

    7. Torchwood Five says:

      Definitely.

      Some fans have dreams about getting two great drivers in the same car.

      Mine is, if Ron cannot amend his “no, you cannot keep your trophies” policy to entice Lewis back, to somehow arrange for him to come down and test the car, show everyone what it can actually achieve, then the engineers and Button know what to aim for.

      And Jenson, I know this is a difficult time, and I am sorry for your loss.
      Please can you talk the team up, not down, in the media. Take at least that leaf out of Lewis’ book.

    8. Satish says:

      Sure would. Heck, even Alonso could be seen doing SOMETHING with the dog of a Renault in 2008.

      When do we EVER feel/see that with Button in the Macca?

  23. goferet says:

    If teams believe they can win races in 2014 then this is promising for the season as this means we would finally get a show.

    For sure, Mclaren haven’t taken advantage of these fly away races to score some big points whilst teams like Red Bull find their feet, I think Mclaren will find it that much harder to score podiums once everybody is up to speed because of the level of talent in the other teams.

    And this is why I think it’s a mistake for Mclaren to put a timetable on when they will win because winning in this sport usually happens when you least expect it and so what Mclaren are doing is setting themselves up for unnecessary pressure and disappointment.

    Regards the Honda partnership, what we have learnt in 2014 is these engines need working on for a pretty long time so we can only hope Honda have been doing their homework.

    1. Random 79 says:

      McLaren thought they could win races in 2013.

      What else could they say?

    2. warley says:

      Their ‘homework’ may consist of cribbing what is in the back of the car of their partner for next year. If nothing else, as someone else pointed out it will probably need to be mount-compatible with the Merc or Macca will be up against it building a completely new car for next year whereas most rivals will be runing more an evolution on this year’s designs. While they are copying the mounting points, they are bound to pick up on a few other useful features of the Merc PU. What interests me most is the extent to which the merc is superior at present depends on software and algorithms as those will be harder for rivals to copy sorry imitate, short of another Spygate :-)

      1. neilmurg says:

        mounting points are specified in the rules, which is helpful if a manufacturer drops out at short notice (like honda did), but as this engine change has more than a years notice it wouldn’t be a problem.
        Which leaves you with the astounding assertion that software and algorithms are hard to copy.

    3. Matt says:

      Vis-a-vis your third paragraph:- Tell that to the teams of strategists who are paid exceptionally well to design a program around winning. You might need a rethink there I believe……

    4. Ahmad says:

      The problem is that if Dennis lowers expectations at McLaren, then the whole team will start to relax, take it easy, and get nowhere.

      He’s basically rallying his people, and focusing their mind. In F1, it helps more than it hinders. And Dennis hates failure although he’s quite used to it.

  24. Mike Martin says:

    2009 was a bad year but I was impressed how McLaren took the fight to Redbull in the years after that.

    McLaren lost one of the best drivers on the grid and key personnel. That is what hurting them now.

    Early silly season: Kobayashi and Hulkenberg drivers for 2015

    McLaren – 6/10 Ron Dennis will sort things out soon
    Jenson Button – 5/10 another poor season as first driver
    Kevin Magnussen – 7/10 rookie, does a good job. For fair assessment he needs to be evaluated after Hungary

  25. Random 79 says:

    “Ron Dennis that if anyone in the team was happy with that result they should leave McLaren straight away, as the team exists to win”

    So only miserable people are left working at McLaren because all the happy people left.

    Besides, 2nd isn’t looking so bad now, is it?

  26. Ungulado says:

    McLaren has one of the biggest budgets in F1.
    They are also one of the most winning teams in F1.
    They have the best engine in F1, a former WDC and the guy that was considered the bets prospect rookie for this year yet they are at STR level. If a team which such huge advantages is performing so poorly, I’d say that a 6/10 is extremely generous. Marussia fared better, all things considered.

  27. kenneth chapman says:

    can’t possibly see anything higher than a 4 for the team. as for the drivers, button also gets a 4 and magnussen a five.

    as a rookie magnussen is doing what is expected of a rookie and studiously learning the ropes. not an easy task considering the complexity of these new cars.

    as for button, well what can be said apart from what has already been said? i very much doubt that he can lift the team anymore. he is becoming bland and doesn’t seem to have the drive that is needed to overcome the issues currently dogging the team. maybe that is impossible to do….who knows. i would rather see him throwing it into the wall whilst having a blast than just tootling around hoping for something extraordinary to happen.

    i would expect them to improve as they are a massively well resourced team and they are now being led by a truly visionary leader who will brook no second rate performances.

  28. aveli says:

    mclaren will not win a race this season at this rate. they keep shouting out about what they’ll do at the next race and when the race takes place they go silent. they should rather be silent until the race takes place and then come out and shout about how well they did.

    1. Random 79 says:

      That would be the logical way to go :)

  29. Ben says:

    James, do the bans on wind tunnel development and CFD design include work on next year’s cars? If not, is there scope for teams doing development which can be used for both ’14 and ’15?

  30. Van says:

    I fear that Bahrain and China will prove to be representative of McLaren’s form for the rest of the season.

    Unbelieveable how easily the Merc-powered McLarens were passed by the Renault-powered Red Bulls down the straights in China. That’s the ultimate embarassment.

    Ron talks a good talk, but he must realise that his team is currently no more than a collection of mid-table desk jockies.

  31. Kingszito says:

    I doubt that McLaren are suddenly that bad to build a bad car two seasons in a row. This car showed a great potential in Australia, what went wrong in between?

    I would give
    McLaren 2/10,
    Mag 4/10
    Button 1/10

  32. Ahmed says:

    Jenson is probably the most overrated driver and champion. He has quite simply brought mclaren down to his level of mediocrity. Mclaren got lucky in Oz with hamilton and vettel suffering DNF’s and ricciardo getting excluded from the race. The mp4-29 is steadily going backwards. 2.5 seconds behind hamilton in bahrain qualy and 2.3 in china when lewis couldve went faster.

    Really speaking, what has changed in mclarens form since 2013? Nothing… They are just blowing their own horn, unable to sign a new title sponsor and going nowhere slowly. The only decent car since 08 was the mp4-27 and mclaren threw away tht title with pathetic pit stops, strategy calls and bad reliability. They need to initiate a 5 year plan the way mercedes and rbr did if they wish to become consistent competitors again.

  33. Roger W says:

    It appears that Eric Boullier thinks there is nothing fundamentally wrong with McLaren – I can’t say I agree with this interpretation of “fundamentally” …

  34. iiro says:

    Great idea for these three idle weeks! Congratulations!

  35. Timmay says:

    If it wasn’t for the Melbourne result (where arguably every car was coasting on day 1 of the new regs for reliabilities sake), what score would you give them?

    Two, One, or possibly Zero?? Lol mclaren

  36. tifoso says:

    My thing with McLaren thus far is that “bodied” suspension: there was such a buzz around it in pre-season, but now that the actual racing has kicked off, I have heard almost nothing about it.
    And having those Merc engines they should be able to have a performance advantage, if nothing else on straights, such as China.
    Perhaps the most foreboding thing I’ve seen is those time gaps regarding fast laps in the article above. In Australia it was under half a second, but then jumped up to over 2 seconds. I had no idea they were that far off the pace!
    Of the perennial heavy hitters, I think McLaren are the worst off. They will welcome the return to Europe.

  37. Martin says:

    My $0.02 on what McLaren need to do for 2015.

    1). Sort out the design to track aero correlation problems. In 2012 the car was better than expected and for 2013 and 2014 it has been worse. The Red Bull guys that are coming to save the day still need tools that work.

    2.) Work out what Pirelli is going to do with the tyres for 2015 and with that info work out the best gearbox length for weight distribution. I’ve seen comments that this a key thing with the Mercedes car.

    3.) Get the best possible driver line-up. If, out of the available drivers and evidence, it is Hulkenberg and JEV, get both of them.

    4.) Realise that the ‘McLaren way’, which worked well in the 80 until now, has been matched by equally meritorious ways of developing F1 cars. McLaren took professionalism to a new level, but others have joined them. Just following the system will not produce a better race car than everyone else. Be willing to learn from other teams and to change.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I wonder if Macca have “a not invented here” syndrome?

    2. Robert says:

      It is not gearbox length on the Merc, it is PLACEMENT. The split turbo enabled a much more forward gearbox, changing the weight distribution.

      And your point 1) shows that you don’t really understand CFD very well. Saying “sort it out” is really what they have been trying to do for over a year now, and the models are still not perfectly calibrated. This was caused by the move in 2013 to a high-chassis design, which basically negated all of their existing aero tuning. Last year they struggled mightily to get new models calibrated for a high-chassis design, and were less than successful. This year’s car also has fundamental changes, and it is not clear how fast they can get it tuned better.

      Again, with the limits on testing, getting car design right is a bit of a crapshoot, especially if you rely upon rigourous CFD-led approaches. Newey supposedly does not…

      1. Martin says:

        Hi Robert,

        I try not make assumptions about what people on this site do and don’t know. You never know who you may run into on the internet. It was 15 years ago, and it wasn’t F1 related, but I did do CFD at university as part of my engineering degree. Your describe McLaren having problems with its models. So the models do not correlate with the track results, which is what I said.

        Calibration is a measurement issue, and is not normally a term that would be used for CFD as there are no physical measurements. Your limitations are the number of elements / cells that you split the body into and the processing power to numerically estimate the partial differential equation solutions along the body. I’d be surprised if McLaren were particularly lacking in the processing side, but better computers and software to use it keep coming along, so the models around the car behaviour in roll pitch and yaw are more likely to be the problem area.

        In the analysis of 2013′s problems Martin Whitmarsh said that the 2012 car was better on the track than the numbers suggested. Again this is a correlation issue. It was not clear if this was a CFD or a wind tunnel related comment, but the point is the same, the design to track correlation was not great, but unusually in 2012 it went in the team’s favour. So the comments from the team suggest it is more than just an inability to change solution philosophies (the pullrod suspension was another part of the change).

        With the Mercedes gearbox, like all the other cars it is still mounted to the back of the engine. It is current F1 practice to have a rather longer gearbox case than needed for the internals. Since the gearbox length has been one of the main variables used to vary the wheelbase for weight distribution and aerodynamic purposes, it has become a reasonably commonly used term. Gearbox position could be interpreted as a transverse box, which I don’t think has been used since the 90s, but I could be wrong. Really that is gearbox orientation as it is still positioned directly behind the engine.

        Regards,
        Martin

      2. Robert says:

        Martin – very cool if you have modelling experience too. Given that, then you know that there are always a set of tuning parameters, usually estimated constants, that go into a model. These involve things like the amount of drag generated by a square millimetre of bodywork at a given airflow angle, the elasticity of the airflow itself, etc. In any good model there are tens if not hundreds of these constants.

        On this site and others, three years ago we were debating the degree of changes that would need to be applied to the McLaren models for a high-chassis car, which it seemed imperative that they build soon. We didn’t forecast the suspension change, which obviously made it worse. I had forecast (accurately, it turned out) that they would face quite a bit of re-tuning to get these constants rejiggered for a high-chassis car, especially to get a better estimate of downforce. That is because none of these constants is “pure” – they are all driven by a host of inter-relations to other constants, and to input variables that are either too difficult to measure, or considered small enough to ignore (because it lessens the computational load considerably).

        So when I talk about correlation, it is these constants that have to be re-measured, by getting a body of experience with the CFD and the new baseline chassis design. And for what it is worth, my background is several years using simulation technology (queuing network models, simulated annealing, etc.) to simulate advanced computer systems and networks…and I have worked on a model that resulting in a $50MM loss the first year for the company that put it into production due to poorly tuned parameters. Thankfully that was not my part of the project :-)

        Also, I see what you mean about the gearbox – the length would be important as they are using it as a stressed member, got that. But the way I heard it reported on Sky, it was the entire Merc gearbox that had been moved forward. Obviously, that could simply be reporter-speak for “they lengthened the gearbox and put most of the internals forward”. But the overall packaging of the Merc rear-end is VERY much smaller than the competition (sky showed comparison photos), so I do wonder if they did indeed just slide the whole thing up and keep the packaging tidy.

        You know, we could solve this riddle with two spanners and 5 minutes with the car…. ;-)

  38. tifoso says:

    One more thing, if all else fails, they have Honda engines next year. Watch out. History has shown us this equation: McLaren + boosted Honda power = Formula 1 World Championships.
    And Honda has the immense resources and knowledge of their hybrid road program to draw from to help sort the ERS side of the PU out. We all know Honda can get good power and reliability from a turbo engine.

    1. Alexander Supertramp says:

      Power is not Mclaren’s main issue this year!

    2. Andrew M says:

      As people so often say about the stock market, past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance.

    3. Dave Emberton says:

      Honda fans always conveniently forget everything post the Senna and Prost era.

      And correct me if I’m wrong, but McLaren + boosted Honda power = 1 Formula 1 World championship (1988). The next 3 were non-turbos, until they were eclipsed by Renault.

      McLaren + Mercedes won 3 world championships BTW. Button would probably never have won the 2009 championship if they’d still been stuck with the worst engine on the grid – the Honda.

      1. tifoso says:

        Dave Emberton, you are correct. I stand corrected in that 84-86 McLaren were not running Honda turbos, but rather TAG’s. My mistake, and I’m glad you had the opportunity to point it out. Bad information is never becoming.
        However, as I’m sure you can see by my name, I am neither a McLaren or Honda fan. That would be sacrilegious.

  39. James Clayton says:

    I worry for McLaren, I really do. Only yesterday I saw two articles where McLaren made announcements about future announcements.

    One was them ‘announcing’ that they’d announce their title sponsor later this year (an ‘announcement’ they’ve already made once or twice!), and the other ‘announcing’ that they’d announce Dan Fallowes replacement if they were unsuccessful in their court case.

    When a company can only ever make announcements about things that they are planning to subsequently intending to announce, you can be sure the company has deeper issues.

    1. Kbdavies says:

      True! Macca have a history of making announcements that never come to pass. In 2011 and 2012, every time they had a bad race, Whitmarsh would say they “had something” up their sleeve for the next race. It usually never materialised. Ron has made the same announcements twice this season already…..and they are moving backwards.
      Why don’t they just shut up and get on with it; like ALL the other big teams. You don’t hear RBR go on about what they will be bringing to the next race. they just turn up and blow everyone away as they did after the summer break last year.

  40. ivan says:

    James,is mclare the only mercedes powered team that uses own gearbox?Is it possible that Mercedes have a better one?

    1. ivan says:

      *Mclaren

  41. Ahmad says:

    McLaren – 4/10 for becoming the worst Mercedes-powered team. They got lucky in Australia but very poor since.

    Button – 4/10 for getting beaten by a rookie in Australia, and not outperforming his car (like Alonso does with the Ferrari).

    Magnussen – 6/10 for Australia only.

    1. Robert says:

      Did you not watch the Oz qualifying, and Kimi wrecking JB’s Quali 2 run with his yellows for crashing out? How that equates to Kevin “beating” JB, when JB qualified in 10th or so after Kimi’s crash in front of him, and finished just behind Kevin, is beyond me.

      Or do you just post on stuff you never watch?

  42. Elie says:

    Mclaren are 5/10. I think the mushroom suspension is acting a bit like a parachute at the high speed straights. This will probably also make the front if the MP4-29 less front limited.

    Magnussen 6.0/10- Hes a rookie in a team thats struggling and did an excellent job in Australia. The reason hes struggled since is that the opposition have improved their cars.
    His incidents with Kimi were annoying but thats why there called Rookies

    Button 4/10- Jenson has shown over the last 2 years that despite his 14 years exp – he does not have the expertise or the speed to improve a car. Im not at all surprisef by Kevin beating him in the first race. & it will happen times more. If I were Ron the decision for next would be a very easy one..( despite what he is saying in the press)

    1. Elie says:

      *correction- if they replaced the rear suspension – it would make the car less front limited

    2. Robert says:

      Yeah, Kevin will out-qualify JB each and every time Kimi manages to crash in front of JB in quali. Pretty much all weekend JB had faster practices and quali laps in Melbourne than Kevin, and in the race went from 10th to 3d. While I respect the job Kevin did getting the car through the race in his first GP, I don’t think he had any overtakes…

  43. For sure says:

    No disrespect to their drivers, you don’t know how good their car is without a guy like Lewis driving it.
    And I am not even a fan of his but he is one of those bench mark drivers.

  44. Ryan Eckford says:

    What do you say about McLaren?

    Their car seems to be inconsistent, and has some major flaws. Not enough downforce, too much drag, and poor cooling as you have mentioned James. The car is clearly not optimised around the engine/power-unit, and that suggests the balance is not good enough. The season, unless they produce miracle upgrades, is a total write off. It could be a period of woe for McLaren, unless Honda have produced a power-unit similar to Mercedes.

    As for the drivers, they are doing their jobs without going beyond the call of duty. This is where they need a Hamilton or Alonso-type driver.

    As for the team, they are all working hard, but they are struggling under the strain of Ron Dennis. If you are reading this Ron, I want to tell you that, “Your ambition outweighs your talent!” This means that you are out of touch with the environment of the sport, and that you need to change, or leave the sport completely.

    1. Phil says:

      I think even if Honda do produce a Merc quality engine it doesn’t mean McLaren will do anything with it. After all, they have the Merc engine right now.

      Everyone is talking about how the Merc engine is so much better but in reality only the Merc team have any significant advantage. Sure Williams and Force India are doing well but they are still behind Red Bull and Alonso’s Ferrari. I can’t help thinking chassis is still the overriding factor and will become more so as the engines equalise over several seasons.

    2. luqa says:

      The biggest problem at Mclaren IS Ron Dennis. He is out of touch and his management style is one of control and intimidation. Don’t rock the boat, don’t give the boss bad news, because he will fire you for being the messenger.

      The work atmosphere very quickly becomes poised and fosters mistrust. I’m quite sure one of the reasons Dan Fallows is returning to RedBull can be directly attributed to the return of Ron Dennis and his self centred leadership style. When the staff are afraid to question authority, as seems to be the case at Mclaren, there is no team, it becomes a pure ego driven dictatorship.

      So my suggestion to Ron Dennis is : BACK OFF and listen to your experts. Then the results will come.

      1. Robert says:

        +1. Although now that they have seemingly lost Fallows it seems that a large degree of damage has already been done….

  45. Brett says:

    What are the chances Alonso goes back to Mclaren? He seems unhappy at Ferrari but Mercedes and Red Bull don’t seem like options. I keep hearing all these Alonso to Mclaren rumors but I just can’t see it. Mclaren seem a bigger mess than Ferrari right now.

  46. JohnBt says:

    LOL! Gosh the photo of Ron gaping mouth says it all doesn’t it. It worth more than a thousand words.

    James it’s hilarious when unusual pictures are used for some articles.

    Will be good if McLaren confirms the sponsorship soon, I know there’s a financial crisis though.

    What happened to McL after a good opening performance. Feels like some teams will thrive well at certain tracks, with the exception of Merc working well at every track. Break is too long for me but I do understand the teams need it after the flyaways.

  47. justafan says:

    Guess your talking about 08 Wayne. You said Mac was not the best car? How can you measure what the best car was, then?

  48. Nick Young says:

    ]mod] JB doesn’t design the aero, which is where they seem to be fundamentally lacking.

    With the fuss they’re kicking up over Dan Fallows, is it possible they’re using this as a bargaining chip to try and get Peter Prodromou out of his gardening leave early?

    1. dren says:

      I think they lack in suspension work, too. A car that can run a softer suspension (good traction) but yet not pitch and roll (keeping aero balance stable) is something they have not been able to achieve relative to other teams. They seem to gravitate more towards novel aero ideas in the hopes to catch out the competition. It hasn’t worked since the f-duct, and even then it wasn’t a huge gain over the field.

  49. Matt says:

    McLaren sure seems to have lost their way. Australia seemed promising and then the cart came of the tracks. While it looks like other teams are progressing forward, it seems McLaren has once again selected reverse gear.

    Clearly they are in need of serious crisis management. The next few races will see if they really have new development parts to transform yet another dog of a car.

  50. justafan says:

    What McLaren needs is some quality driver of the Schumacher category who can lead a team and knows what it takes to win titles in abundance.

  51. MclarenNut says:

    Dennis is right, Mclaren exists to win.
    It’s either a 0 or a 5.
    Nothing in between.

    1. neilmurg says:

      0 or 1 then
      there are 10 types of people in the world,
      those that work in binary

      and those that don’t

  52. Scott D says:

    Driver scores seem rather harsh and speculative given the backdrop of such an uncompetetive car.

  53. fox says:

    In comparison to Williams, McLaren may bounce back. But it’s not clear how. Biggest surprise was Eric assignment as team boss.

    I wonder Alonso would go to such McLaren.
    On the other hand, Vettel may not go to Ferrari after Domenicali resignation.
    Stale times ahead. May be Honda brings fresh emotions.

  54. dren says:

    Mclaren over recent years has a bad habbit of throwing what seems like a lot of resources into novel technical ideas. I have a feeling (I don’t really know) that they have invested a lot of resources into the bulky suspension and feel that they should continue down that road since so much has been invested in it. No other team has this, and a few teams clearly have more DF than they do. If I was at Mclaren I would divert much of my resources to working with Honda on integration for 2015. I would scrap the rear funky suspension and optimize the airflow around the car to the rear. I a going to also guess they lack in the suspension department compared to the top teams. This then compromises their aero set-up.

  55. Gabe says:

    This year is a write-off, and next year probably will be a learning year with new staff and of course new engine. Can Honda do unlimited running this year, before they are officially in Formula One? If so, that could be a massive advantage. It’s too early to say if Magnussen will be good or not. He should be ahead of Button regularly by mid-season. Button’s on the glide path to retirement, so I don’t see him as part of McLaren’s long-term future. The team needs to show promise before they can attract a top driver. Alonso would be crazy to return. Same for Hamilton or Vettel.

  56. Iain Taylor says:

    [mod]
    According to most of the comments the driver is the key factor in whether the car is any good or not. This is rubbish if this is the case why has the beloved Alonso not won the last 5 World Championships?
    The design and engineering team determine whether a car is any good. The driver’s feedback is a factor, but not a massive one. You can’t say Alonso and Lewis are gods and Vettel has lucked into a great car and then complain that a certain driver you don’t rate isn’t good enough to develop a great car because of rubbish feedback

    1. Joel says:

      1. Driver feedback (very consistent) is very important for the engineers and I think both you and I agree on that. What an engineer need to know is when he makes a change, if the driver can give a feedback that co-relates to the change he made, then he knows he can trust the driver with the feedback. That is why 2 things make it very easy for the engineers; 1) A driver who has worked with the team for a while 2) whose feedback co-relates and is consistent with the changes we make.
      2. Setup – This is even more important on a race by race basis. If a car is sensitive to setup changes, the driver has a HUGE responsibility to get it right.If you don’t get the race setup right, the difference can be from a couple of hundreth to even more than a second. Even if a car is good, if it is sensitive, the driver’s setup skills is very much necessary. I think the notion that Button complains a lot is coming from the fact that when he followed his own setup direction, he was usually lost (1st half of 2012). He had to revert back to Lewis’s – he himself commented on that. Only the engineers from McL can answer whether Button’s feedback corresponds to the changes they make back in the car. Looking from the results perspective, it doesn’t look like it. Hence, the readers comments that driver is a key factor is valid. That is also the reason why teams pay some 10million vs some who had to pay to drive.

      1. Iain Taylor says:

        I totally agree with the above. Driver feedback is important and Button is someone who only produces his very best when the setup and car are to his liking.
        The point I am trying to make is that good driver feedback does not make a bad car into a good car.
        I think many of the comments are too harsh on Button. Ultimately the car lacks downforce and driver feedback will not change that fact. The last GP the car couldn’t get the tyres into the right operating temp range and hence grained, which destroyed any pace the car had.
        As the season progresses we will see if the team are heading in the right direction or not, but the engineering team rather than the drivers are responsible for that.

      2. Kbdavies says:

        I think what people are trying to say is whilst driver feed back won’t make a bad car into a good one, the driver can make (1)A difference in where the car qualifies – setup/qualifying pace. (2) A difference in where it ends up – setup/race pace, and (3) A difference in how the car progresses regarding in-season development – Accurate driver feedback. How will the development team know how well their upgrades are working? If the simulator says it is worth 4/10th, but the driver can only get 1/10th or nothing, why would they progress along that path? They would have to choose another development path which could lead to a dead end. This is exactly what happened when Whitmarsh followed Jenson’s setup and development path in early 2012.
        This is also probably why Ron promised a 0,5 sec increase which never materialised. What the simulators are saying, and what the driver are doing with the upgrades are simply not matching up!

  57. Chins says:

    Very dissappointing to see Mclaren fighting it out with the lower midfield teams…I really wish they can turn the tables this season…but looks like it will remain a dream…

  58. EMG says:

    Driver feedback is important, but not as important with 2014 regulations.
    I am not saying that JB is the top driver but he is taking punches for other reasons. It amazes me how many people are pointing fingers while simply every one knows how sensible a formula one car can be, therefore it is not the driver. It doesn’t matter how good your engine is if your package is not optimized, hence the fact that mclaren are having issues with their car.
    The’ve lost major players since 2009 and now they are paying the price of it. Same happened with Ferrari when the “dream team” left. A lot of people here are failing to realize the real definition of aero for example which is the most important factor in F1.For example… I bet, many of the people here have never driven a normal car at 160+ km/h even. If you ever do that open your side windows and notice the difference (if you know I mean), then ask yourself who is to blame, you or the car?
    JB, is fine. There are no other options for mclaren at the moment. IT is as simple as that.

  59. John S-R says:

    I trully hope that Button proves some of you people wrong. The AUS qualifying was most definitely skewed when he was caught out by Raikkonen. Coming back from 10th in the race to finish very close to his team mate is pretty good in my eyes.

    James, any Mclaren/Button article always ends up in Button baiting. He must be the most dividing driver on the grid. Which is a shame.

    1. James Allen says:

      I know it’s really tedious

      1. John S-R says:

        It makes me happy to see you say that. As a long time fan of his it’s very sad to read people discrediting him for his championship etc. I for one will continue to support him. One day I would like to shake his hand!

        To be able to survive F1 for 14 seasons, the guy must be doing something right!

      2. Kbdavies says:

        It’s not tedious James; and there is no baiting going on. This is an article about McLarens woes; and the drivers are part of the team so they cannot be exempt from criticism. And on this issue, it is normal that Jenson should receive far more criticism than Magnussen.
        It is too late for Button to prove anyone wrong or right. Opinions about him are already fixed, and are based on EVERYTHING people have seen him do,or not do. This is not only 2009 or the odd standout drive – and they are quite justified in my humble opinion. I doubt he is going to suddenly change radically and dispel these opinions.

    2. oli says:

      Unfortunately Jenson is part of these drivers who won titles with a very dominant car. He will always be on the receiving end of criticism.

      Then he drove some great races (especially in 2011) for Mclaren but people kept saying it was a combination of having the right car and luck.

      so far he’s been much better than Magnussen, which is also normal since he’s supposed to be the leader at Mclaren, but I am pretty sure it will be the case throughout the season.

  60. Peter says:

    Nice series of reports on the teams James.

    Gary Anderson thoughts are quite interesting making the observation that it is aerodynamic or grip consistency as opposed to just more overall load/downforce that McLaren need.

    It appears that they are also now stuck with their unusual rear suspension now after testing without it in Bahrain.

    With Honda coming on-board McLaren would seem to have the trickiest situation of all the teams to balance during 2014. Honda is coming a year late really.

  61. SaScha says:

    Pride , is McLarens problem & downfall. They think being McLare is enough & this nobody is bigger than the team cr*p pushes real talent away. It does not work nowadays.

  62. Paul says:

    I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again.
    Why are people saying that KM is doing well for a rookie? It’s easier this year for rookies to shine cos they have nothing to unlearn – whereas drivers like JB have years of habits built into the way they drive

  63. flesh says:

    Maclarens problems are three fold firstly there attitude towards the maclaren brand is one of absolute superiority and when things are going badly they believe its either bad luck sabotage or its somebody elses fault they will not accept they are the authors of there own success or misfortune secondly the way they treat there drivers beggars believe I don’t think its coincidence that since they let lewis go and they did let him go he would of stayed if he believed they truly wanted him but maclaren are so arrogant they thought he could go and things would just carry on as normal I know lewis has his faults but come on what other team would of let a driver of his speed and calibre just walk away this is the same team that let Alonso walk away in 2007 after one season if these drivers are worth paying these huge amounts of money surely they are worth fighting for to try and keep but maclaren obviously think not and thirdly and this maybe my most contentious point is jenson button Mr corperate, and politically correct ,team player at all times who is so desperate to find a car that will make him so much faster than his natural talent will allow that he ends up paralyzing every car he drives and then convinces his employers that he is a genius its quite remarkable how long he has managed to stay at the top in f1 with the ability of a paving slab I think a life in politics beckons when he no longer can find someone to pay him the huge salary he commands I actually like jenson and an awful lot of people do in f1 and in that lies one of maclarens problems

  64. star crazy says:

    Mclaren have been lapped the past couple of races,i couldnt beleive it till i re watched the races,you will not get ANY reference to it from the commentators and i dont blame them its embarassing!!!! 6 out of 10????wtf??

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