22 March 2013
Friday press conference - Malaysian GP - Pt.1
Cyril, Caterham one of I guess three teams that were perhaps a little disappointed with performance in Melbourne – perhaps along with Williams and McLaren – what's going on behind the scenes at Leafield that gives you confidence going forward?
Clearly, I think that we have chosen to go for a strategy that is a little bit different from other teams, in the sense that we do not operate our new car for now. We have strategies that will make the car evolve according to different packages, the first of which will come in Bahrain. So we are running right now on hybrid car, so we are pretty much where we expected it to be. It doesn't mean it is where we wanted it to be. Having said that, we have been analysing clearly the difference, the gap between Marussia and our car. First we want to diminish a little bit the fight between Marussia and ourselves. We are just competitors and we would like to make our way up through the grid, not backwards but up towards the front. Clearly we see most of the developments that we did over the last year, the last 12 months, we think they made two-thirds of the difference over the last 12 months and only one-third over the winter. And of that one-third only half is coming from KERS. So I think that we have a real chance to be optimistic. Some good stuff is happening in the wind tunnel. Obviously we want to make sure this is translating into reality in Bahrain.
Obviously it's a home race for your Malaysian shareholders. How's it looking for this weekend?
It's looking pretty much similar to the last weekend in the sense that it's going to be on the edge with Marussia. I think the utilisation of tyres and driver familiarisation, driver mistakes also can make a difference so this is what we are getting ready for. We are going to have our shareholders present, so we want to make sure we have a good show at that moment.
Sam, the team and drivers were very open in Melbourne about the problems that you were suffering with the car. Can I ask you what went well that weekend?
I think we got close to extracting most out of the car. First of all it goes without saying that we're not… there's no-one in McLaren who's satisfied with where our performance is. So we've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks – before Melbourne as well because we had all the signs there from winter testing – going through data and analysing exactly what we need to do to improve the car. We're about winning races, as we proved at the end of last year. We made some quite substantial changes to the car with a view that over the course of the season they would pay us back in terms of wins. I'd say that we… all of the people inside the group at the moment are focussed on understanding the 28 and turning it into a winner as soon as possible.
Presumably you've considered – you won the last two races of last year – you've considered bringing last year's car? Have you now ruled that out as a plan?
All of our focus is on the current car. That involves understanding it, doing tests, we've done a lot of testing today actually on the circuit, we've done a lot of work in the factory in the last four or five days since Melbourne, making some encouraging progress in those areas, so right now all of our efforts are concentrated on the current car.
What does your experience tell you about how long it will be before you're challenging the two gentlemen [Fry, Allison] to the right?
As soon as possible – but it's very hard to make predictions because when you're trying to unlock two or three different areas on the car, my experience tells me it's very unpredictable to know when that's going to happen. What I will say is the past history of McLaren as a group to recover from situations like this is extremely strong and consistent. They've done it before and I don't see any reason why the engineers won't do it again this time – especially based on the activity that I've seen and we've all been involved in over the last couple of weeks. I think it won't take long for us to be back up there – that's the target.
It looked like Jenson Button in particular was a bit closer to the pace when the conditions got more changeable after the rain. Are you hoping for more of those conditions over the weekend?
Tagged as: Ferrari , Mclaren , Mercedes , Sam Michael , Malaysia , Force India F1 , Bell , Sepang , Lotus , Michael , Fry , Bob Bell , Caterham , James Allison , Pat Fry
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