McLaren has shown significant progress since switching to Renault, but results in 2018 do not yet live up to expectations. Last year it was Honda’s fault, but what about now? Zak Brown clearly states that this year’s McLaren is just not as good as the one of 2017.
According to F1’s official website, Brown is not satisfied with the aerodynamic performance of the 2018 car:
“I’m not going to get too technical, but we don’t have the same level of downforce that we had last year. We have identified an area in which our car is weaker than last year’s car. Did we have the best chassis last year? No, definitely not. Did we have probably a better chassis? I think because of all the different variables, it would be hard to definitively say yes or no, but we know we have less downforce this year than last year.”
Everyone remembers Alonso’s furious comments on the engine over the radio and also the team’s public statements on Honda’s inadequacy. It seemed like McLaren had found a scapegoat in the engine partner while at the same time claiming the chassis was top-class. In 2018, it’s hard not to compare McLaren with other Renault-supplied teams; and let’s also not forget Honda’s relative success with Toro Rosso.
Zan Brown, however, insists it’s more complicated than that:
“This decade, we’ve had a lot of lack of stability. We’ve had team principal in, team principal out, CEO in, CEO out, shareholder in, shareholder buying, shareholder out, etc. etc. I think any company, whether you’re a Formula 1 team or consumer packaged goods, it’s pretty difficult to bring stability and direction moving forward when things are constantly changing. So I think we’re going to close that chapter, and now build from where we find ourselves today.”
It is possible that Honda learned quite a lot from their mistakes. It is also a fact that every year is different for chassis design. McLaren will have to convince its investors and the public that such bold strategic decisions are headed in the right direction.