McLaren's woes likely to be terminal for season

© F1 Pulse, 14 June 2013
• McLaren failed to capitalise on the 2012 car - the fastest of the season
• Trailing Force India by 14 points in the constructors’ championship
• No significant progress after three pre-season tests and seven races
• "Developing themselves into a mediocre vehicle"
• Button embarrassed, Perez says even a miracle won't save McLaren
• Former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton claimed three podiums with Mercedes
• Lost technical director Paddy Lowe to Mercedes as well
• Last constructors’ championship claimed in 1998

McLaren may not be able to win a single race this season after experts were left bewildered that the British team hasn’t made any significant improvements to its car after seven races into the championship.

McLaren ended last season with the quickest – albeit unreliable - car and after the launch of the MP4-28 late in January, many described the machine as the ‘fastest car of 2012 made even better.’

After the first pre-season test at Jerez, rivals reckoned that McLaren was on the right track only to be revealed later that one of the competitive times set by Jenson Button was due to an ‘unrealistic’ set up where the suspension component was fitted incorrectly.

It has been downhill ever since.

McLaren is currently sixth in the constructors’ championship trailing Force India, which has better odds of claiming a podium, by 14 points.

“We are seven races into the season now and there were three tests before those seven races. So that's ten events to react to and yet they are making no progress relative to the competition,” noted Gary Anderson, a former technical director of Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar, in his column on the BBC website.

Button had pointed out after the Spanish Grand Prix that it was “a bit embarrassing for us because we are not doing a good enough job” as McLaren decided to persist with the MP4-28 rather than field its predecessor with updates.

“I think they are developing themselves into a mediocre vehicle,” Anderson added.

At the recently concluded Canadian GP, both the McLaren drivers finished outside the points and were even lapped ending the team’s run of record points-finishes that lasted a bit over three seasons.

Button said that he has “never been so pleased to get out of a car” after the race at Montreal.

“The biggest problem is they don't seem to have a clue where they are going,” Anderson wrote in his mid-season review.

Sergio Perez, who made the worst start for a McLaren rookie in 20 years, too suggested that it was highly unlikely that the team would make any significant improvements soon.

"There is nothing that can save us; not rain, not a miracle," the Mexican driver was quoted saying by AFP. "It's not the year I wanted. Last year, at this time, I had more points (with Sauber)."

"The car has so many problems, and we are so far behind that there is not a single issue that we can focus on," said the frustrated Perez adding that the team cannot even think about claiming a podium at the moment.

McLaren’s troubles aren’t just limited at the track.

  • It started with the departure of Lewis Hamilton, who was signed by Mercedes this season, leaving the British team with its star driver. Hamilton is fourth in the championship with a realistic chance to win races,
  • Then it lost its technical director Paddy Lowe, who followed Hamilton to Mercedes. A few years ago it lost Pat Fry to arch rivals Ferrari.
  • McLaren’s relationship with engine-supplier Mercedes hasn’t been rosy lately either with the team announcing that it would switch to Honda engines in 2015 leaving the German manufacturer worried about its intellectual property.
  • Although McLaren has always been there and thereabouts in the championship in the past decade, it has however not claimed a single constructors’ title since 1999.
  • It is also set to lose its title sponsor Vodafone at the end of the year although McLaren has a replacement standing by, the identity of which will be revealed in December.
 

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