31 January 2013
McLaren 'must avoid any more mistakes' in 2013
McLaren has admitted that the secret to any success they might have in 2013 is whether or not they can avoid the mistakes and reliability issues that derailed their 2012 campaign.
Most experts in F1 agree that McLaren had the strongest, fastest car in the paddock in 2012, and yet despite that hardware advantage the team didn't feature in the final battle for the driver or constructor championships at the end of the year in Interlagos, which ended up being between Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
"We haven't won nearly enough if you think of last year, when we started with the fastest car and ended with the fastest car," said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "Clearly we can't be satisfied with an outcome where you win quite a few races and are fast most of the time - but you still aren't securing the championship."
Whitmarsh was speaking to reporters at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking on Thursday, after the media event unveiling the team's new MP4-28 chassis for 2012.
"Fernando and Ferrari last year probably never had the quickest car but were very strongly in contention for the whole year; they maximised the points out of the product that they had and we didn't," Whitmarsh went on to concede. "I think we've worked very hard on that this winter and we're seriously intent on putting that right.
"There's been a tremendous effort on design processes, making sure that we've got reliability, looking at the processes of how we run ourselves as a race team," he added.
McLaren's reliability issues are thought to be one of the factors that led Lewis Hamilton to seek his fortunes elsewhere in the F1 paddock after 14 years involvement with McLaren at various levels of motorsport. It was a definite setback to the team, although the fact that his former race seat has gone to the talented Mexican driver Sergio Perez in 2013 has helped softened the blow for McLaren.
"I don't think anyone else in the team has spent too much time mulling over memories, I think we're looking forward now," Whitmarsh said of the after effect of Hamilton's departure. "I think that's the nature, sadly, of motor racing; but in a positive way, you look forward - you get excited."
And Whitmarsh is certainly taking comfort from the underlying knowledge that last year's car was arguably best on track, as he hopes to pick up the team's comeback performance from where they left off.
"This car is already quicker than the car that finished the end of the last year, and at the moment it's got a very encouraging development slope. Be it downforce or other parameters, this car's responding very well," he said.
"It's always possible that there's been a eureka moment somewhere else, but I think that's less likely: these current regulations, and the cars that are placed under them, are pretty well developed," Whitmarsh added.
"Undoubtedly, this car will look different by the time we get to Barcelona, and again by the time we get to Australia."
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