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We’ve made McLaren a second a lap faster, says Whitmarsh
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We’ve made McLaren a second a lap faster, says Whitmarsh
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Mar 2011   |  12:40 pm GMT  |  164 comments

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says that some tough decisions have been taken following the team’s poor performance in winter testing and the result, he believes, is a one second per lap improvement in the car.

Two of the key areas are the floor and the exhausts, where a simpler solution has been employed.

Speaking in a Vodafone phone-in with leading F1 websites, he said, “I was not satisfied with where the car was from a reliability or performance point of view. We have made some dramatic changes to the car. There is some risk, but we hope that it pays off and the car is more competitive.

“The changes are aimed at making the car over a second quicker than it was in the tests.”

The team found that some of the solutions on the car which had the potential to make the car very fast, were not delivering and were causing reliability problems. These have been changed.

One of the major areas of innovation this year is in the exhausts blowing on various aerodynamic areas; this is becoming something of an arms race in itself. McLaren had what Whitmarsh described as a “very extreme” solution on its car and it has now been changed back to something “simpler”.

Although he did not mention it today, hydraulics have been another area that McLaren has had reliability problems with. This is something that has also affected Force India, who buy their drivetrain and rear end from McLaren.

Whitmarsh admitted that the enforced lay off caused by the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix had been good for McLaren, buying it some time to radically change the car, “It could be very crucial, but we’ll be able to answer that in the next few days. We’ve been able to significantly change the car.
If the car is reliable and quick then this will have been crucial.

” I think the car fundamentally isn’t a bad car, we need to unlock the exhaust blowing potential and we had some very creative ideas, some of which could have worked spectacularly well but in order to do that they had to be durable and raceable and frankly some of our solutions weren’t. That’s why we had to go back and in doing so we found some interesting performance.”

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God i hope hes right, McLaren need this extra performance, they cant afford to be on the back foot


So now it's just 1s off the pace rather than 2? 😉


LOL That made me laugh. And as a McLaren fan I need it....


that was my first thought.... LOL


Some F1 reporter told me that the McLaren had sooo many radical solutions that the team was finding hard to make them all work. So making it simple makes sense. I hope we can see Lewis and Jenson in a similar position the Red Bull drivers were last year.


So if making it simple they can get close to the Bulls and the others... why doing all this? Maybe it's the "Trial and Error" method?

I guess they're really out f the pace, with or without that radical solutions, and they will be joining the front runners in a few races.

Anyway, we will see next Friday. I positively can't wait for the weekend to come!!


It sound like what he said last year "We will improve 2 tenths every race". But we will see in five days.


he had said 0,3sec per race back in 2007, thats a step back isnt it.


It was quite embarrassing to hear the team make dreams claims of new parts coming at 'the next race' that will close the gap.
Maybe this time it isn't just PR, but Witmarsh / McLaren have got a reputation of making unfounded, people pleasing statements.


McLaren always uses the Nurburgring Nordschleife as a reference. They only forget to mention it.

One second gain there means a couple of tenths in an average F1 circuit.


I know the track, but is really dangerous to run there. Are you sure of that?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Where did you get this information from? I have never heard of this.




I think it's what one calls irony... made me laugh anyway (and I'm a Macca fan)


Joking mate





This all sounds very un-mclaren like. New tyres, DRW, kers, new exhausts to get their heads around at Albert Park.


LOL Whitmarsh is just a sales man in overalls. I learnt a hard lesson last year never to trust his words however sweet they sound. So until I see the evidence with me own eyes, all I have read there is Blah, Blah, Blah.

P.s. #HappyBirthday to me Yay!


Atleast admitting to the cars faults is a step in the right direction. I agree that the design is probably the most extreme design on the grid but I can't see reverting to a simpler design as being a bad move. If you recall the Silverstone Grand Prix in 2010 where Mclaren introduced the 'Blown Exhaust' system which ultimately provided an inbalanced car, they reverted to the traditional exhaust system and were in fact faster. Key here is to get a few Race distances under their belt and build on performance from there.

Hopefully the unpredictable nature of the Albert Park Circuit will cause a surprise in the pecking order and buy Mclaren some time...


de ja vu,

It only ever seems to be McLaren who big up their updates before a grandprix, we have seen last year how they magically work, NOT!

I prefer Redbull and ferarri's understated approach, much less risk to egg on your face


Not its different this time, they have managed to harness the hot air coming out of Whitmarsh to feed the floor!

But joking aside, i completely agree - been here the start of the last couple of seasons, and I'm not a huge Mclaren fan but I would like to see Lewis up there battling for wins with Alonso, Vettel et al...

Also, it means Mclaren can live up to the moniker of being the team that improves the most over the season as they start on the back foot once again.


Most improved team doesn't earn you any silverware


It's always ' Oh we've got some updates .. We'll be quickest' or 'wait and see next race.. We'll be right up there' ...
Why oh why do they always make these statements in public .. They just make themselves look foolish every time!


Very interesting James.

Do you believe him when he says he thinks they can gain a second? If they can then their race pace would be very respectable and they'd be closer in qualifying.


He may be right, as long as the others don't bolt on their "simpler" exhausts and gain a second as well.


He doesn't belive himself, how can you think James believed him. He is a salesman no a politician because a salesman sales something, he sells words


Dont you love it when all your posts over the lase week come back to haunt you, and you are made to look a fool 🙂 lol !!!!



For Pete's sake,....what else could Martin Whitmarsh say without being criticised when asked questions by journalist's? Perhaps over optimistic according to some but that's not a crime is it?

Would you rather he say "Our car is crap". Would that satisfy your McLaren sneering?

It's because McLaren is an English speaking team that it receives all the scrutiny and criticisms from punters who read this website.

How about quoting Domenicali's or LdM's comments as they react to public scrutiny?



Truth?? Opinion surely..!

With so little testing possible changes have to be validated through windtunnels, rig testing and simulation. That might be giving Martin positive information but ultimately neither he or anyonelse including armchair critics can know the car performance until they get on the track with real testing.


Damian he has a choice to say the truth - and unfortunately he has developed this reputation of thumbing his chest even when he has no muscle on it. After similar empty promises in pre-race teleconference all of 2010 Martin's promises about performance improvements for the coming weekend have as much value as engineering advice from posters on this blog to Ferrari i.e. zero. The guy just lacks credibility.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

It seems that you take any opportunity to make negative comments about McLaren.

I guess you just don't like McLaren because they realised that Hamilton was quicker than Alonso and refused to play along with him demand of making Hmailton run out of fuel at Hungary 2007.


He's got to be dreaming surely?! a second faster from a modified "simpler" exhaust is unreal. It's not fair to get your fans excited like that!


The problem with blowing the exhaust under the floor and then designing the floor to make the best use of the exhaust gas is that if things don't work out as planned you may not see any improvement and you could have an adverse effect that reduces down force/performance. As testing is now much reduced teams have to rely more and more on CFD design and wind tunnel work. As good as wind tunnels are the results and the conclusions that engineers draw from them can be wrong. It would look as though this might be the case with the Mclaren exhaust. We have seen similar things last year where team brought up-grades to GP's only to find they didn't work as planned.



They obviously tried to bite off more than they could chew, and in doing so - produced a car that was aerodynamically flawed.

I just hope he's right - that its a few components that were unreliable and flawed rather than the concept of the car itself.

We'll only find out on Saturday I suppose.

Only time will tell if the void left by Pat Fry's departure is one that can be filled.

There's a fundamental lack of continuity at McLaren - with a different designer of the car for this year vs. last year.

I wonder if its true what people say - if Newey left because of Whitmarsh - if thats the case, Whitmarsh needs to start proving his worth as Newey has clearly demonstrated his.


Looks like Martin got rid of the best at McLaren to get to the top?


It's not only for the fans. It's for Lewis Hamilton, Vodafone and the other sponsors. The message is : we can make big come backs ... after bigger mistakes. He didn't emphasize the last part though.


Perhaps McLaren are making a calculation that it's better to innovate, sometimes radically than stay behind the curve with regular tweaks?

Isn't that what makes F1 great, teams like McLaren innovating?

Look at Ferrari, so much for being an F1 team as we have not seem them produce any notable innovations in the last few years....seemingly content to chase the pack!



Mercedes picked up a lost second a lap in the last few days of testing said Brawn

McLaren picks up a lost second a lap in the last few days before the Australian Gran Prix said Whitmarsh

One just has to wonder which lap are they talking about given that atleast the later can't show anything.

He can meerly say it with the confidence that he had when he let the car go for the first time with the exhuast system as in the same thories and models that worked better.

Sorry to be a bit of downer, but hey, someone has to equal out (or atleast try) some of the British load.

On a more serious note, that is two major upgrades that failed miserably in a row.

The upgrade going into Korea last year was a big step backwards and then the floor and exhausts a big F again.

Atleast McLaren have the resources to revert. I guess that is the hidden cost. If a team like Sauber went and tried to do something as mad as what McLaren have tried and it failed they would have blown all their resources before the start of the season.

Too big a risk requires massive resources to outweight the risk.


You make a great point about having the resources to recover from mistakes via development. To me, "development" means, "we've designed and built an entirely new car this season, but we've done it piecemeal." Only the biggest teams, like McLaren, can afford to do that.

Mercedes, Williams and Sauber all improved last year when they stopped "developing" and focused on making their existing cars more driveable. Rubens said as much, as did MS. Such a simple concept, but one that seems to get lost in the Development Wars during the season.

I'd guess that improving the driveability of the car, alone, will improve lap times. If simplifying things has made Lewis and Jenson more confident that the car's handling won't spring any nasty surprises on them (via inconsistent responses, corner to corner or lap to lap) McLaren probably will find that second per lap.


I don´t know, they always look so upbeat about upgrades and they normally don´t work.

I hope they work because i´d really like Lewis to be fighting Vettel and Alonso for race wins and for that he really needs that second that MW is talking about.

The blowing exausts are really giving Mclaren a big headche, even last year they had so much trouble to optimized it. They talk about radical solutions but they doesn´t seem to delivered in performance and this year they are not even reliable.

Maybe with this upgrades they will be faster, sometimes we have to take a step back before you move forward, i hope this is the case with this new upgrades for Australia.

Donald, Edinburgh.

- It's quite unlike McLaren to beat their chest and talk of a whole second (that's obviously simulator-derived). Counting chickens and all that...

- It's strange that McLaren emphasise their simulator to such a degree, yet they had the most trouble implementing the blown diffuser (among other developments) in 2010 relative to Ferrari and Red Bull.

- Negative interpretation: What the heck, it wouldn't finish the race otherwise.


maybe their CFD / personnel aren't good at dealing with hot gases in their simulations. it's another layer of complexity.


James, do you think new exhausts/floor is just simpler and safer version of original concept that was planned as backup or something that is just last minute quick fix? If this is something that wasn't planned with such radical car than McLaren could be lost with future developments.


The big teams usually produce 2 or 3 versions of components for key aerodynamic gains.

This year - the big change was the loss in downforce with the double-diffuser. So naturally everybody was looking at replacing that aero-deficit with radical solutions.

According to Ross Brawn, Renault's forward exhausts will become as important this season as the double diffuser was in '09 when Brawn took the title.

I don't think that it should affect the overall concept of the car (fingers crossed) and therefore shouldnt impact future aero developments.


When, the week before the start of the season, the McLaren F1 head says the car isn't "fundamentally bad" you know they have some serious issues.


Taking off the trick aero bits makes you go faster does it ? - might make your car more reliable...

It seems like Martin is picking a performance improvement figure out of thin air and keeping his fingers crossed.....I know its not that simple, but it does appear to be a bit of a PR excercise.


My thoughts exactly. How does taking off the radical bits that make the car faster, make it go faster?


when the radical bits fundamentally didn't work i would guess. 😉

from the reports from testing it seemed it was slow and broke down, not amazingly fast and broke down.


fingers crossed mclaren can get in there and make me smile.would make for a great season if mclaren could add a quick car to join RBR and ferrari and co.c`mon Mclaren.


Lets hope the solutions push the mcLaren into the fight at the front!!


Deary me. How McLaren have fallen and how much poor Martin is having to spin. Gaining a second per lap by taking off your much vaunted exhaust development? Cobblers.


Isn't it time Martin Whitmarsh stopped his Canute act and left us to see how well this years car performs? Compared to the other teams, we've seen a non-stop flood of press releases, all claiming the MP26 will improve, has improved, has potential, needs it's potential releasing etc etc.

Unfortunately, once again, McLaren seems to have gone down the wrong route and have built a dog, leaving them to play catchup for the rest of the season. I can't believe that mclaren with access to wind tunnels, CFD and massive team of engineers can't do a better job.


To be fair he's probably getting pestered by more UK journalists ("Who have you given our Lewis such a poor car Mr. Whitmarsh"), so he's giving honest answers..and they get reported a lot. So it looks like he's talking about it more

Lets face it, the tabloids aren't exactly balanced in their coverage of any sport, let alone one which has any form of national flag waving involved.


i am starting to have problems reading the word honest and the names Martin Whitmarsh in the same paragraph 🙂


Whitmarsh was

"...Speaking in a Vodafone phone-in with leading F1 websites..."

It's Whitmarsh's choice to contact the media, perhaps it's more to do with keeping the sponsors on-side.

McLaren have problems and it's disappointing to see similar mistakes being made at the start of every season. I hear Mclaren's design group is run on a committee basis. Haven't they heard how the camel was created?


Are you writing for the NOTW or Mail this season?

Headlines distorting the facts, shame on you.

“The changes are AIMED at making the car over a second quicker than it was in the tests.”

Another quote:

"I think it will still be a challenging weekend, but I'm HOPEFUL that we'll put on more than a second in performance,"


Are you suggesting James editorialize Martin's words? Or critique them? Surely he should just report them, with some context, and let us decide?


Thomas, you are an [mod].


Who was in this conference, you or me? He didn't say it once, he said it three times in different contexts


Well Said James.... PLease disregard any person who disreputes your reporting ... 99.99% of you readers love you articals and they are defibnatly informative...

On another note .. I really hope Mclaren LOSE another second in performence 😉

Forza Ferrari.....

Forza Alonso !!!!!


Great post James and an even better reply. Man, that made my morning...


LOL LOL I don't know why I found this so funny.

It reminds me off a teacher.

On a serious note, I think it was a bit harsh from Thomas. Come one guys let's be reasonable and show respect, especially when you talk to someone gives so much good stuff for free.

And if you don't like it, go and buy Autosport or whatever that charges you money with a load of political BS.


Nice one James - go for it! It's the best way of defending a pretty unique website here.


''Who was in this conference, you or me?'' LOL - Classic!


Where has this one second figure come from? Oh, the simulator y'say Martin. This would be the same simulator that suggested the complicated exhaust and floor would be beneficial to the car's performance. But it's all okay 'cos that extra track time you could have had at the first test has been really beneficial in terms of data about the tyres


Given it is a reliable solution, these changes can bring the car to the forefront at the grid. It shall be an exciting start in Australia.


reliable is good for the first few races. the tyres falling to bits may actually be more important than the speed of the cars as long as their car has reasonableish performance.


assuming ferrari and red bull were not sand bagging of course


My how time's change - can you imagine Ron Dennis coming out and admitting such a thing? That said I prefer honesty over spin any day. Sounds to me like McLaren tried too many new ideas which makes it hard to know whats going wrong as you have no baseline. The simplest solution is often the best and it's possible that with so many clever people trying their hardest to come up with something nobody else thought of that they overcomplicate in their strive for perfection.

Honestly can't wait for weekend, other that the ferrari and red bull it's hard to say who'll be where come the end of the first race. Add in the first race reliability factor, new moving wings, KERS and host of rookies and hopefully it'll be a race of surprises!


I think Mclaren have made a rod for their own back. Whitmarsh openly stated last year that he wants his designers to come up with the next F-Duct. Maybe they've all been financially incentivised to come up with radical ideas and in the end they had so much to test and analyse that they couldn't see the wood for the trees as my mother would say.


fantastic, all the usual hype, excitement, hyperbole and rumour we've come to expect in the weeks leading up to race 1. bring it on...


McLaren : how to turn technology into politics


Last year, few teams and not only McLaren came with statements about gains of 1s 0,5s etc. HRT is an almost useless F1 team. Its only quality was its stability : the car didn't change at all not even for Monza. If the teams ever succeeded in bringing half what they promised HRT drivers would've been lapped twice per lap by the leaders (I'm exaggerating I know ). They didn't because teams talk too much : there are stupid spectators to amaze and stupid sponsors to convince hence a 1/100 of a second becomes a second and a second becomes a minute.

As long as there is no one able to come with a straightforward objective scientific test which assesses exactly the gains brought by a package everyone can tell whatever he wants.

Among the miracle promisers, McLaren is the WorldChampion head and shoulders above the others. They don't promise world championships, they promise breakthrough, developments, gains, last minute updates, throwing the sink, etc. Martin when he talked about the car he used the words creative ideas, innovation, radical, etc.. and he kept coming with those words before during and after the launch. He added some of Ron Dennis cold arrogant trademark of how you should never write off McLaren and they go to every race to win and all the bla bla poor James had to listen to for decades and us for years.

There's something political about the way McLaren handles its communication always promising the heavens to make you accept their current misery and incompetence. Such tactics have only one advantage : they buy them time. But they have to use that time to make the appropriate enhancements and to solve those issues. Otherwise, at a given point you not only can't hide your inability and incompetence but you loose credibility as well. That's what's happening in France right now where a racist political party is gaining momentum built on lies and unfulfilled promises by regular parties.

For McLaren, if they can't achieve success this year Hamilton might loose patience and motivation the same way french people lost patience and faith and Lewis recently put some pressure on his team by expressing how he wanted to win at least 3 titles which means that McLaren has to deliver or he has to look for a different team (hopefully not a racist one !)

McLaren has still some solutions to hide their poor form : the bike, the road car and if all that doesn't work they can join the coalition against Gaddafi. As Martin said they can come with some "very extreme" solutions.

They found a SECOND with their car Martin said. I don't recall that anybody thought McLaren was 1s off the pace so if they really did find ONE SECOND, they should be right up there. The message I guess was more towards Vodafone, Lewis and towards McLaren shareholders. Afterall, Martin Whitmarch isn't McLaren owner and can be dismissed like Dominicali can. He might have a strong relationship with Ron DENNIS but Dave Ryan did have a strong one with Whitmarch. It didn't save him from the sacking !


Mercedes seemed to find a second in the last test with a revised package.

I don't see any reason why after running 3 tests they wouldnt know what worked and what didnt.

I'm predicting Lewis Hamilton on pole for the first race....;-)


apparently the difference between Ross and Martin is that you can take Ross Brawn's word?


Andy i beg to disagree - he is the team principal so technically you blame him for everything and praise him for everything. I have no regrets for not being Martin's fan - the results speak for themselves. As i have mentioned before he among the big four (Brawn, Horner and Domenicalli being the other three) is the only one that has not won a championship.

McLaren may have produced bad cars before but since Martin took over, the team has started on the backfoot in all the three years he has been in charge (2009,2010 and now 2011). In 2010 he had a shot at the title but distracted himself with managing the egos of his drivers - Ferrari didn't and were it not for a strategic error could have made that disinterest in driver equality pay off. IMHO decisions in F1 at the sharp of the field are only usefully if they are geared towards winning titles.

One title in 11 years is not a good statistic for McLaren. It's budget is huge and clearly they are not getting value for that money. Of course for 8 of those 11 years, Ron Dennis is to blame, but you expect that when a team brings in fresh blood it is so that it can improve rather than remain where it was or move backwards.Is three years enough for Martin to have made a difference? I think yes. Brawn and Domenicalli did it in less so its feasible. Besides Martin has been at McLaren for donkey years so there was no learning curve in his case.


And from previous posts I have ascertained you are a huge fan of mclaren and Martin. 😉

He is the team principal, but you can't blame him if his tech team don't deliver a reliable part.

Similarly, did you blame Ross brawn when last years merc was underwhelming?


Mercedes ran from the beginning with an intermediate car. The real package was planned later, so the car used for the second gained wasn't gained in a month. It was the result of the extensive work of the winter. Even then it remains to be prooved that they managed to gain a second.

In McLaren case, they brought a car which had huge reliability issues due to the radical exhaust. They had to turn back to a more conventional solution and in doing so in the last time they managed a whole second, are you kidding me mate !


Yes I was 😉

Just trying to start the new season as we ended last Jo 😉

In disagreement 🙂

Hope you are well, Andy


mclaren coalition against gaddafi.now thats a real side splitter.guess desparate times and desparate actions go together.


Hmm there are a few interesting comments last few days from McLaren to boost their campaign and you wonder if this at all has to do with Hamilton's comments.

Hamilton is saying he is looking to win more than 2 WDCs to prove he is the best of his generation. He also says "They are an incredible team. I haven't been to other factories, but McLaren have some of the greatest people I have ever met in the team." I think Hamilton is starting to think, how do other teams work, maybe I need to have a look around if McLaren not delivering again.

Options aren't great but Hamilton could look towards Renault (if Kubica would not make a full recovery) given Ferrari and Red Bull are unlikely destinations for the short term?

In any case I can't see Hamilton staying at McLaren if he is fighting for 4th place every race.


That sentence is very very very significant. It's the 1st time Lewis talks this way about McLaren and it's clearly a warning to the team. Get your act together or I'll look somewhere else.

Gone the talks about wanting to stay there for his whole career and so on.


I'm with you on this one, Jo. Not to over dramatize things, but it does feel like frustrations with car performance and reliability are building in the Woking driver lineup, rather like during the Kimi/JPM era. The difference is that both Lewis and Jenson are all about F1: From what I can tell, neither of them is even curious about other racing disciplines - certainly not enough to willingly turn their backs on F1, the way Kimi and JPM did. So McLaren may lose them in the end, but I doubt F1 will.

I've gotta agree with Mike: The psychology is fascinating.


I worry for his career. Simon Fuller knows naff all about F1 and what is he going to do, create an LA Galaxy F1 team or something that ridiculous? Honestly, Hamilton lost his marbles signing with this man, what would have been wrong with someone like Brundle, Weber, even Briatore!

Hamilton could go to Red Bull but only if Vettel decides to drive for Mercedes (or to Ferrari in the unlikely event alonso decides to retire!). I think he is stuck for at least this year and next to McLaren during which his frustrations will just make him less confident and will deminish his shine and thus his apeal for top teams to fork oit for him.

Good morning by the way James, how is Oz?


Ask yourself, what changed in Hamilton's set up in recent times...ah yes, a new manager, one who changed David Beckham's attitude a bit as well.


Beckham didn't do bad after signing with Fuller, won the Premiership and La Liga as well as becoming one of the highest capped England Players ever. Certainly on the international stage, I would say that he has had his best years after 2002 which is when he signed with Fuller.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, can we PLEASE have your thoughts on the whole Hamilton saga.

It is a fascinating story of a boy who grew up with McLaren and performed so well in his first year that McLaren decided that he was the future..not Alonso.

Now he finds himself in a sticky situation with Alonso in the seat that he really wants to be in. Red Bull still have the weak point of the Renault engine and with all the new power train changes coming in, they may not be the best bet for the first years of the new regs.

Simon Fuller is a bit of an enigma. I can hardly recall ever hearing him being interviewed. Is Fuller a real fan, or will he simply try to milk Hamilton by getting him to look for the largest wage packet...a la Beckham with regards to his money hungry move to the LA Galaxy.

The psychology of the whole situation is fascinating. Will you be writing an article on this soon?

Best wishes from Colombia.


James, do you see a Hamilton's new management encouraging him to go for Massa's Ferrari seat assuming McLaren fail to salvage this season or bring about this 1 second difference they're talking about?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I have a horrible feeling that Fagin Fuller will try to hook Nicola Scherzinger to double up with Lewis Hamilton into a management contract.

Maybe Fuller has bigger ambitions for the sport and how to screw it up into a showbiz infested crossover with the rest of his frankestein creations.

Fuller has permeated trash TV, has given the illusion to young people that the route to success is through a premiun rate number. What does he need the extra money for? You can only have so many plastic surgery operations and so many private jets etc.

I hope that Bernie is onto his game and deals with him appropriately.


If Redbull win both the WDC and WCC this year I dont think there is much chance of a spare seat being there for Lewis.


I know what you mean. Simon fullers main goal is improve the image rights of said celebrity/sports person to increase other revenue streams (which he gets a percentage of like all agents).

I can't help but feel a purely f1 agent like B2B would concentrate more on the drive and less so on the marketing. As I believe you are only as good as your last race.

Sure David beckham earns a hell if alot of money now then before but why does he constantly move to europe for a higher level of football. I can only assume it is for something that money cannot buy you.

Just like every sport I fear that being a celebrity beginning to creep up the priority list of a few drivers.


No. I can't see that. Red Bull maybe? There aren't many options outside McLaren at the moment for LH. I just don't see Fuller as a positive for the sport.


Now if he could just get Posh to smile that'd be some serious progress!


Indeed. Do LA have an F1 team?

Apparently Lewis' new album is due out in June.


If Fuller is about money only two teams can pay Lewis more than McLaren - Mercedes and Ferrari. Since Alonso is in the seat that Lewis would like at Ferrari that leaves Mercedes - which has a 40 something driver that can vacate a very expensive seat for a very expensive 20 something - Nobert Haug can hire Lewis but would Ross Brawn want him? You would believe Nico wouldn't mind him as they have been team mates before and appear, at least in the public eye to have a decent relationship.


He's sure to be at the Grammys then..


It seems a no-brainer to go with a simpler exhaust. But I wonder how much of the performance from the "octo-exhaust" was factored into their original targets for the car.


Has he been playing F1 2010 lately? If finding a lost second is really that easy.


Good news, the more cars competing at the sharp edge the better.

Edward Valentine

Just how much of a gamble is this? What if in qualy trim McLaren end up more than 2 seconds down on RB and Ferrari?

I remember Jenson saying in Canada last year that driving flat out isn't the fastest way to finish the race. Regarding the tyre situation I think this will be the story for the season or at least the first two or three GPs so perhaps they're right take a shot of pitch and toss with the more simple untested exhaust system.

Australia is getting more intersting by the day!


It's a shame there's so little faith placed in what Mr. Whitmarsh says these days. Never-the-less, I'm looking forward to an exciting season. If he's right, it blows this contest wide open.

With all the new regs, I'm sure the balance of power will shift considerably over the course of the season. In that context, one second per lap doesn't seem like such an outlandish claim.


I really despair, when I hear McLaren say they have an "upgrade" coming. When they don't work, or work (but not by as much as they thought), it really makes them look like bunch of cretins.

Like other have said here, just be quiet, and let people know AFTER it works!


When did they exactly introduce those changes? During the last tests or after them? Cause if it's after then they still can't be sure if it works the way they want it, can they? They didn't have time to test it after all.

I can't help but think this is a PR talk, but we'll know in a few days better.

Anyway - the more cars fighting at the front, the merrier for us - viewers. So hopefully, he's right.

Just a few more days! 🙂


McLaren are all about the PR.

The reason for their late unveil of the new car - PR. Vodaphone thought it would be 'cool' and offer 'great viral content' to do the whole building a car in front of the eyes....


Hi Lilla, so long since the last time I read something from yours!

I totally agree with you - not a surprise, is it? PR working at full load here IMO. But we'll see in just four days!! Can't wait!

Btw, do you have any news on Robert Kubica's recovery? I've read that he will still need some weeks before being able to walk.


Hello Galapago,

I don't know if I know anything you haven't already heard, but I've read that Kubica is recovering well - even faster than expected, which is very positive. I've just watched an interview with one of the Polish jurnalists and Kubica's friend and he said that Robert will probably be able to start walking in 2-3 weeks, but that doesn't really tell much, because the leg injury was really the smallest of all his injuries. So walking will be just first, very small step forward. The biggest problem now is his elbow (after the surgery), hopefully it'll be fine after taking off the bangades (in about 30 days). But you never know if he doesn't require yet another operation... basically, I think that, considering the size and nature of injuries he suffered, it looks quite good. Fernando Alonso said lately that Kubica is bored - no wonder really as there's not much he can do. But apparently he's already doing some excersises (some light ones of course).



I believe it's much to early to call the MP4-26 a dog.

Let's assume the car in basic configuration is +/-0 s/lap.

Let's say, McLaren exhaust could give them -1 s/lap) if it worked properly.

Instead, it is NOT working as expected, creates imbalance and some reliability problems, and they calculate it costs them +1 s/lap.

So they ditch it and are back to basic +/- 0 s/lap. It's 1 s/lap gain from where they were, exactly as MW said.

I expect in Australia we'll have a chance to see just how good the basic McLaren is.

Could be quite a good car.


this is purely speculation but those aggressive sidepods with little undercut may end up being a bad idea now that the exhaust wont be pulling as much weight in getting the floor working and so while it may allow them to finish the race from a reliability standpoint (to finish first you must first finish blah blah blah) but what they lose from working the floor could hurt them from a downforce standpoint.


Really like this analysis and it is how I think Mclaren think they will get a gain. I do hope your right but am waiting to see Friday!!


how can you find a second by taking things off and simplyfying the parts when its not even been tested? mclaren seem to have the approach of throwing the kitchen sink at it while ferrari think it over and try to hone the set up and add suttle upgrades and maybe 4 or 5 major upgrades over the season. typical mclaren bluster



Apologies, this is on a seperate note, but Tony Fernandes is now at loggerheads with David Hunt over the Team Lotus deal.

Can you shed any light on this?

Tony, it seems to me, is in danger of bringing the sport into disrepute by seeminly being in litigation with everyone he comes across viz the Lotus brand.

Many peeople, myself included, were happy to give him the benefit of the doubt as he earnestly seemed to be wanting to go racing. This latest story though seems to place the Lotus brand back in the headlines for the wrong reasons, again.

How many more lawsuits must be filed for Lotus to be better known for litigation than racing, and fans of the sport to lose faith in Fernandes?


I know Hunt has been complaining for some time that he didn't get paid by TF, so his words today are familiar. It seems odd, as Team Lotus name is central to TF's strategy. But maybe TF is already planning a plan B. I'll find out more in Melbourne.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Strange how everyone seems to be turning against Fernandes these days.

Coincidentally, does anyone know of a large order for brown envelopes that Proton has made over the last few weeks?


they should ban the Lotus name from F1 forever no team has to use it end of story.

Conrad M. Sathirweth

They might be a second quicker than they were before but I doubt they will have gained a second on Red Bull and Ferrari because I am sure they are not just waiting about for Australia.


McLaren has to take the risk this race, whereas the others have less reason to do something drastic that makes their testing data defunct. They'll probably take a more gradual approach, with updates in future races, and probably just did a lot of work on future upgrades with the extra time instead of immediate ones.

So, I think McLaren may be even with them in this 1st race, but later RB and SF may hop ahead sooner.


Standard Mclaren talking themselves up tbh. Still be miles behind Red Bull and Ferrari IMO.


I reckon McLaren have gone all 80's with their exhaust and its just a straight 3 inch bore with a huge Cherry Bomb silencer. Made all the 80's hatches into winners at the traffic light grand prix!

Seriously, it seems the original exhaust concept has so much of a detrimental effect on the aero, reliability and balance that simply replacing it with a sturdier, more convential unit will just let McLaren access performance that is already there. I'm sure they know more than most of us on here having got access to the data so lets hope for the sake of an exciting championship that they're right!


I had one on my Mini Cooper, and it worked brilliantly.


Does this have to do with the allegedly illegal exhaust they designed?

There is a rumour that suggests it was made of illegal materials and had more than 2 outlets.

Did you hear anything about it James?


No, but I'll check it out


Scarbs ran something on his blog last week I think around the use of some exotic materials


Does that mean that if the radical solutions had all worked properly then the car would be much more than 1 second faster than it was in testing. Does not make sense, implies that the Mclaren might have been extremely fast, which is fine in theory but reality always turns out different.



And all the other teams were just sitting in their garden drinking tequilas since the last test.


only Sauber uses tequila


Why would McLaren only just find out that their parts were slowing the car by more than a second, surely they wouldn't have been put on if the difference was that big. Either it's an incorrect claim or the original design was way too extreme.


Maybe they were faster but just unreliable - they probably were turning in good times on the computer models where reliability is never an issue 🙂 Waiting to see how they fair over the weekend - at least first practise has been ticked


On the day that car was launched I commented to some friends that it was going to be either (a) faster than anything else on the grid or (b) a sad reflection of a design team which is trying too hard to do wild and exciting things when it can't get the basics right.

It seems I was correct on the latter.


Tom, I take your point, but your logic is flawed. You gave Mclaren 1 option: to be faster than everything else on the gride or; not. No wonder you were proven right!

As I say though, I take your point. Many commentators, such as Eddie Jordan, are bemused by Mclaren's approach to sharing design between two designers, and I can understand the criticism as it appears to be borne out by testing thus far.


For the record, my closing remark was more an acceptance of inevitability than crowing about my level of insight. It certainly wasn't crystal ball stuff, was it?

Being faster than everyone else, or not being, is two options, no? 😉 Plus there's a third which I didn't mention - they could have been at the level we all expect Ferrari to be at (i.e. on the tail, but not quite the level, of Red Bull). The point was, I was expecting it to be great or be a disaster (at least in McLaren terms), and that's what it is. Perhaps not to the level of the 2009 car, but nonetheless.

Anyway, when RBR and Ferrari (and perhaps Mercedes?) are all producing quick cars without some wacky F-duct or sidepods or even the rumoured "holy shit that's freaking awesome" exhaust setup, you have to ask what's wrong at McLaren. Why do they feel the need to be so adventurous and so "innovative"? The only answer that springs to mind is that they think they have to in order to compete - and while they may be correct, I do wonder whether if they just did what every other team does (generally quite a logical progression of a design over a number of years) they wouldn't have had rather more success over the past two years.


Most of their titles were won when they were the most innovative on the grid - you can't blame them for trying; afterall it has worked before.


This is what James had mentioned on his article on the car launch!

Shankar Arumugham

@Tom: Sorry to say this, but that is not an opinion by itself. All you have said is there is a 50-50 chance of the car being good.


@Shankar Arumugham: Erm...OK, where exactly did I say it was an opinion? It was an observation.

@Skanda: Great minds...or I just stole it. Don't think I did though.


I think it would be very refreshing if Mclaren, one of the 'top' teams, has a season in the midfield. It would give teams like Sauber to perhaps get some great results. F1 is boring when dominated by two or three teams.


I don't get all the doom and gloom prophecies for Mclaren. This isn't 2009 when they were 2 secs adrift. They are near the Merc pace before the final test which suggests a race winning car in the right conditions but it is far too early to rule any of the big three put of the championship.


It makes sense reliability-wise but it's interesting that the radical exhausts-floor delivered so poor performance during testing.

1 sec is quite a step. I'm sure MW wouldn't commit to such a number if he wasn't 100% they have it.

Still should be around .5sec slower than Red bull/Ferrari and maybe Merc although Melbourne is relatively lower downforce than Barcelona. What do you think James?


In reality what McLaren are saying here, is that they have wasted most of pre-season.

We will see where things turn out to be, what we do know is that they were in a very bad place for sure!

I really have been unimpressed with McLaren over the last two seasons, given their resources. Some nice gadgets but a distinct inability to see the wood for the trees.


As a McLaren fan I agree to some extent with what you're saying.

I really hoped they'd get that blown diffuser working before the last race.

Renault did a great job last year of incrementally changing the front wing, and adding things that worked. Seems quite simple when you put it like that. 😉


I hope and even think that he is right, because Whitmarsh is very miserly in promises and that this assumption is based on real data assessment


Im a mclaren fan, but whitmarsh does seem a tad overoptimistic.I do hope he is right however.

Mclaren does develop the best over a season generally from a slow start


What's even funnier is when a team says their car is 2 seconds faster than preseason. Did they go back and confirm this at a track they tested on? NO!

So then, it's all BS.


Always nice to be positive, but never good to slip over the edge into a Twilight Zone of the unrealistic.

Does this projection of a newly found one-second gain come from the the same engineers who penned the designs which are now being drastically modified?

Sounds a bit iffy.

As a decades long fan of McLaren I certainly hope Mr. Whitmash is providing us with a bit of realism and not simply .....science fiction.


The day Lewis comes back to earth or McLaren drops him I'll hope for a fast MP again.

People jump on FA for moaning, but too often LH is heared on the radio asking stupid q's or taking his eyes off the ball.


Unless I read this wrong, he *actually said:

“The changes are aimed at making the car over a second quicker than it was in the tests.”

"AIMED at" - meaning thats their *goal. They're not claiming it's actually happened! They're just giving all the McL Fanboys some hope to run with.

*My changes are AIMED at winning the lottery but don't call me for a loan yet!


This may go down in history as the all time best disclaimer pre-season, "hey redbull we could have beat you but our car wasn't sorted so we had to make it slower. You should have seen what we had coming for you.... Blah blah blah". When will young Martin learn that actions speak louder than words. Whatever, at least he's paved the way for a killer excuse for losing. About as believable as their happy family propaganda with jenson and Lewis


I hope these changes do put McLaren into the right ballpark with regard to pace. There obviously is potential in the blown floor idea so lets hope they've got it right. They were about a second behind in their best performances so I expect if these changes work this will then put them in the mix with Ferrari and Red Bull, although I expect Red Bull may have a little extra on the day. Let's also hope they have sorted the hydraulic problems as always reliability is key. - I really can't wait for weekend to see if their claims are justified. - I hope so.


When Ross Brawn said Mercedes had a second in their upgrades you had confidence it was a rational statement based on a methodical approach to car development. This just sounds like McLaren throwing everything at the car and hoping some of it sticks!


they gain 1sec or not, this is exactly a step back which shows once again they didnt use winter period in a productive way.

the main problem of mclaren, their systems at home not representing real results on track.

if you think what can be a simplier solution Mr.Withmarsh talked about, the answer is simple, it is just copying other teams, but copying other teams usually dont carry a team to the top step.

so in best mclaren can only be the second best team which is far from satisfactory for teams like mclaren and ferrari.


Presumably, this one second improvement is only a projected gain on the simulator? It must be, as testing has now ended. There’s a world of difference between a projected, i.e., imaginary, second and a real second. So, we’ll see what the truth is, in Australia. Besides, weren’t the McLarens closer to two second behind the Red Bulls in testing, all things considered as well as can be? In which case, even if MW is right, and even if Red Bull don’t improve before Australia, McLaren would still be up to a second slower…not good.

I also agree that these comments are politically motivated. They’re a response to the negative comments by both McLaren drivers throughout the tests and the press speculation and reporting. Hamilton’s new manager is also significant. We all know how…forceful and committed…Lewis’s last manager was. Horner has stirred things up, too.

On that note, I really think that Lewis should look long and hard before deciding to leave McLaren. He knows the team inside out, having worked with them since he was 13. He has a great working relationship will all the guys. McLaren have some of the very best facilities, financial backing, a great link with Mercedes which begets arguably the best engine and KERS, lots of sponsorship, etc.

Although Lewis has never had the best car, he’s had a car that just about able to fight for the championship in three of his four seasons. That’s pretty good. Serious questions would have to be asked whether Red Bull and Ferrari would treat him equally and fairly. Red Bull is completely built around Vettel. I have never, in several decades of F1, seen a team take a significant part off of one car, against the driver’s will, and give it to his team-mate. As for Ferrari, I’m sure Fernando, if he’s still at Ferrari, would love to get his revenge upon Lewis in some form… Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Lewis is the best driver in F1. He’s the fastest, the best in the wet, the most committed, the fittest, and the best overtaker: the most exciting to watch, in short.


Best in the wet, most committed? Better than most but not necessarily the best...Korea 2010 comes to mind here amongst others. Clearly Hamilton is among the best and arguably the best overtaker but I don't see him as the most complete driver out there...at least not yet. I also don't think Fernando has a score to settle with Hamilton but rather McLaren. Lets hope we get to see Hamilton up there with the leaders but it doesn't look like that will happen for a while yet


He’s the fastest, the best in the wet, the most committed, the fittest, and the best overtaker: the most exciting to watch, in short...Alistair

Therein lies the problem. LH is spending too much time and effort entertaining the crowd/public instead of driving for himself first. He should have won last year's Championship and somehow contrived to throw it all away starting at Monzo and Singapore...

That is why I thought he should have hired a former racing Driver (thinking Hakinnen) as his manager. Someone to get into his head and give him a few home truths... Points on the board all count towards the end, as Alonso would say.


This reminds me of the story when old man Owen was running BRM. Sitting in his office with Nikki Lauda, the old man rings the factory and then tells Lauda that he will have an extra 25hp at the next race. If only it was that easy.


I'll translate the McSpeak in accordance with current rumours:

Mclaren at some point in the past couple of months hit upon their novel design idea where by exhaust was transfered out through multiple outlets in the floor, hence the over run in the design/build process and late car debut.

It turns out the exhaust overheats hence all their reliability problems, to try and remedy this they started making parts of the exhaust from Pyrosic, an "exotic" material that is banned by the FIA for production of mosts parts.

They tried to circumnavigate this by claiming the exhaust components were actually part of the floor (rather than part of the exhaust pipes) but were told to pull the other one by the FIA and as such were left with a design that effectivly didn't work.

They have now presumably reverted to a more run of the mill exhaust/floor design.

Would explain why no one can figure out where their exhausts exit but i'm not sure how they got around rules prehibiting holes in the floor .

Unless they sort themselves out pretty quickly. the 12 points Ron Dennis got the other week could be the most any Mclaren employee picks up in the coming month!


Two points are definitely not true.

1. Multiple exits
Article 5.6 prohibits more than two exhaust exits

2. Holes in floor
Article 3.12.9 prohibits holes in the floor except outside of 650mm from the car centreline

Pyrosic is not on the permitted materials list under Article 15.1.1. However, this very same article has a list of exceptions, and one of them is heatshields. So Pyrosic can be used as heatshielding - and everyone uses it for that. So, you just can't use Pyrosic to create a duct that is solely made from Pyrosic and nothing else.


Maybe they need to put stuff on the car that DOESN'T work in the simulator!


I like the new(ish) McLaren attitude to the press and especially the fans. Last season I found the comments to television immediately post race to be a shaft of light on what used to be a dull and disappointing closing of the programme.

Good on you, Martin. Keep talking.

He's told the fans something of what he's been doing. He's put a positive spin on it but is anyone really suggesting that he should beat his breast?

Rather than criticise the chap we should be moaning at those teams that seem to ignore the press and public and just close their gates, put tape around the pits, and then issue a few bland press releases.

I've been a big McLaren fan for some weeks now, almost from the start of MP4, and felt that Ron Dennis' leaving would make me go elsewhere but I have to say I prefer this new, rather more open, McLaren.

The team has problems. We know this via two routes: the recent testing and Whitmarsh's statements. We also know the team considers its exhaust is not performing as anticipated and will change it.

If only some other teams could be so open.

As I say I like this attitude. It is as if Whitmarsh has some concern for the fans. It's not unique to McLaren but it is far, far from universal.


Gee, Mclaren must have really been off the pace to publicly say they have gained 1 sec.
Generally, at least in my opinion, silence means you are competitve.
I think McClaren must be still a long way off and this is an effort to soften the blow by fans.


Its plausible, they must've come up with a way to test cars more effectively through stimulations and must've used the test sessions to collect data, its evident when they ran button's car with an ugly front nosed data collector. With Testing Ban, someone had to come up with a solution to effectively develop the car on a continued basis.

So was Mclaren playing the Magician Tactic - The Art of Misdirection? I think so.

The Car is extremely revolutionary in its design and build and Mclaren has been rather radical in their Test Applications... and we've seen how an idea can be copied while testing... so it is plausible that Mclaren has developed something that is extremely radical and effective and one that needed protection till the season opener... So, yes... I think they've found more than a second... As I have always said... they have the best driver line up on the grid... So, you can't count out Mclaren... would be a mistake.

Can't wait for the first race 🙂


Some people have accused McLaren of using other teams ideas, but in truth few ideas are original just fairly logical physics, but all teams are forced to use an idea if there are positive gains simply to be competitive. The double diffuser is a case in point.


"I watched the [McLaren] out on track a week ago and it's a mess ... it didn't slow down. It didn't turn in. It couldn't get the power down."

Martin Brundle March 9, 2011


OK, let me see: Made reliability compromise, and made a car 1s a lap faster at the same time?

F1 is all about balance between speed and reliability, car will not become faster wnen you remove parts that make it fast on paper but fail on track.

So MP4-26 will defenitely be slower than McLaren thought it would, so question is: relative to what the car is 1s faster?...only people inside the team knows, so for the general public this statement does not make any sence.

My prediction that due to ugrade they will finish the race instead of DNF, however it does not mean that Mclaren will not be lapped by RB7.


Glad you mentioned the RB7, beginning to think you had forgotten how RBR actually won the WDC and WCC last year.

This is all about new concepts and ideas that theoretically give a team an advantage. Now if the concept cannot be made to deliver, in rejecting the concept you additionally dispense with reliability issues in parts which sustained that concept, that seems more than plausible. What seems incredible here is that this concept not only gave high unreliability issues, but also makes the car 1 sec a lap slower, beggars belief for a team such as McLaren. Something is very, very wrong at McLaren and I would expect changes to remedy this.

What we can say from this is that McLaren have wasted most of pre-season and are several months/years behind teams who have their concepts correct. In reality I cannot see any chance for McLaren this season and they could well be better off concentrating on 2012.


Jensen Button said "We should have said it was a new part because I went quicker with it."

I think its too early to start on 2012, but it definitely isn't a good sign when the Team Principal is saying 'we never give up, we're fighters,' before the season starts. Not good at all.

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