McLaren-Mercedes will concentrate on perfecting the reliability of its dynamic MP4-26 contender before chasing after performance, director of engineering Tim Goss has revealed – as Jonathan Neale paid tribute to the Woking-based outfit's technical expertise and 'strength-in-depth'.
McLaren unveiled its new baby to the watching world in Berlin last Friday, and team members have hinted at a raft of innovations in response to the regulation changes brought into force for the forthcoming campaign. Goss is quietly confident that the multiple world champions have got their sums right.
“Several challenges have been forced upon us by the regulation changes,” he explained. “There are some subtle changes in the aerodynamic regulations, especially regarding the diffuser. Those changes are something we need to evaluate, as is KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems). Exhaust solutions are a significant part of putting performance on the car, and there will be some novel solutions appearing on other cars and certainly on our car as well.
“We have a new tyre-supplier to get to grips with, too, and we need establish the balance of the car with the Pirelli tyres and discover how to exploit the most out of them. Our main focus over the next two tests [at Jerez and Barcelona] will be evaluating the car's new configuration, and making sure we have delivered the performance up to expectations. By the time we get to the Bahrain test, the focus will change to delivering a considerable performance upgrade package to the car.”
2011 will mark the third consecutive campaign that there has been significant upheaval in the rules, keeping designers, engineers and technicians increasingly on their toes. McLaren managing director Neale acknowledges that allied to the longest season in F1 history this year, it is a 'big logistics exercise' – but he insists it is nothing the team cannot handle.
“It's a big challenge, the Englishman recognised, “although I don't think there is anything particularly unique about 2011 – the regulations change in many years. The season has got marginally longer, which means the development season is longer, too. We expect to be competing in the championship fight to the last race – that does make the logistics of the turnaround quite tight, but we're used to that.
“I think for any business, it's important that there are successive generations of talent coming through the organisation. At McLaren, we have consistently committed to strength-in-depth both in the technical and development teams. I think that's why McLaren has been so successful since the sixties. We have 23 different nationalities of engineers and scientists, providing a richness of ideas and energy coupled with the experience and confidence of a team that has worked together for such a long time.”