JA on F1 technical adviser and former Williams chief engineer Mark Gillan believes it will take McLaren quite some time to fix problems with their 2013 car.
The Woking-based team ended last year with the fastest car, but decided to go for a significant change, rather than evolve the 2012 design. They have been well off the pace in the first two races of the season, with ride issues among their problems.
The team has just four points, 62 less than championship leaders Red Bull, with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez scoring a ninth place each. However Button was on for a top five result in Malaysia before a pit stop problem slowed his progress.
Although McLaren are renowned for starting slowly, but improving the car quickly through the season, Gillan told the latest edition of the JA on F1 podcast that it might not be so easy to do that with this car, as the problem is not simply aerodynamic, but more fundamental than that,
“I was surprised at how slow they were at the beginning of the season,” said Gillan. “They’ve had a couple of poor starts, but typically get it sorted.
“The fact they are obviously concerned about the development and how quickly they can improve things probably means the problems are down to suspension and the pick up points into the chassis which are quite difficult to change quickly.
“If it was just purely aerodynamic changes, I’d expect them to deal with it within a race or two, so it’s probably going to take them quite a while.”
If the McLaren does require new mounting points for the suspension, there are two options – to build a new chassis, which takes 90 days or cut the affected area out of the existing chassis and bond in new pick up points, but this adds weight and requires the chassis to be in Woking, which will not be possible over the China/Bahrain period.
But even if they start building a new one now, the chassis wouldn’t be ready until the Canadian Grand Prix, round seven of the championship, at the earliest.
To listen to the full interview with Mark Gillan on all of the teams plus interviews with James Allison, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, make sure you listen to the April edition of the JA on F1 podcast available to download directly here.