McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is promising the team’s underperforming MP4-27 will feature a number of “quite noticeable” upgrades at Hockenheim this weekend, as the Woking team bids to close back up in the championship battle before the summer break.
The team’s general slip in competitiveness relative to traditional main challengers Red Bull and Ferrari, along with the consistently threatening Lotus team, in particular since the opening rounds of the season has been underlined by its failure to record a race finish higher than eighth in the last two races, with its wretched Silverstone result representing the team’s worst two-car finish since 2009.
Even before the British GP, which the team had initially entered with confidence, McLaren had flagged up that it would introduce a bigger upgrade package in Germany and today Whitmarsh revealed a snapshot of what that the developments entailed – with revised sidepods a key element of change.
“The sidepods from the front to the rear are quite different so you’ll notice those and there are other bits and pieces that the sharper-eyed will see,” he said in the latest pre-race Vodafone phone-in with journalists. “And clearly there are some parts which are hidden to the naked eye. They are the main area of modifications. They will be reasonably noticeable.”
Whitmarsh believes the now perennial 2012 problems of getting Pirelli’s tyres in the correct operating range was the main contributing factor behind McLaren’s Silverstone struggles, with the team experiencing graining on the soft tyre in the race.
“I think for everyone, not just McLaren, trying to understand how to work the tyres correctly is quite a substantial challenge. So eliminating mistakes, improving the performance of our car and understanding the tyres and seeing if we can exploit them better are all on the top of our to-do list,” he added.
In wake of Lewis Hamilton’s comments earlier this week that he would look to resolve his McLaren future one way or the other during the summer break, Whitmarsh also reitrated his confidence that the 2008 world champion would sign a new, multi-year deal to take him into 2013.