We’ve made McLaren a second a lap faster, says Whitmarsh
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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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.


“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


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.


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 🙂


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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. 😉


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?


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.


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.


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.

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