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Whitmarsh: Hero-to-zero happens quickly in F1

Martin Whitmarsh says McLaren was too ambitious with the design of its 2013 F1 challenger and is now paying the price
Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that McLaren was 'too ambitious' last year with the design of its MP4-28 and is now paying the price with its struggles early on in the 2013 campaign.

The Woking-based team went for a radical design of the new car despite the pace of the MP4-27 used last year by Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, but has struggled to run at the front so far – with the team going into Monaco this weekend down in sixth in the standings.

Speaking in an interview with the official F1 website, Whitmarsh admitted that the team should have simply evolved the car it had but insisted that McLaren was doing all it could to return to form.

“Hero-to-zero happens very quickly in this business,” he said. “Not so long ago we had the fastest car on the grid - and now we don't. It's tough - and believe me we are annoyed with ourselves - but we are working hard to try to improve.

“Frankly the car is not fast enough. With the benefit of hindsight we were too ambitious last year. We had a competitive car and made decisions to make very big changes in the expectation of aggressively making a big step forward - and that backfired. In hindsight we should have evolved what was already a competitive car. We didn't do that and are paying the cost of it - but we are learning a lot from all this pain.

“If I try to look for positives, we've learned a lot about ourselves and it makes us more resilient. Of course, I'd like to be competitive now. I love to go to races with a realistic prospect of winning. If you are in a period like this it is not the most satisfying thing to go motor racing.”

Whitmarsh added that he felt the team was heading in the right direction but said only time would tell how quickly it would take for McLaren to return to the front.

“Nearly everything we had in Barcelona is still on the car so that indicates that it works,” he said. “We have a new front wing here and some other bits and pieces, and we are working hard to bring more new parts to Montreal. I would love to have a magic way to resurrect quicker, but unfortunately it is only hard work that will help, and I am sure that we will become more competitive as the season moves on.

“What I can say is that we will have a quicker car in Silverstone than we have today. How much we gain I can't predict, as it is also depends on what our competitors do.”



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
23.05.2013- Free Practice 2, Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28
23.05.2013- Free Practice 2, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-28
23.05.2013- Free Practice 2, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-28
Fernando Alonso - McLaren Honda
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, 3rd position Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 pole position and 2nd position  Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 pole position and 2nd position  Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, 3rd position Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 pole position and 2nd position  Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 pole position
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, 2nd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T and Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull Racing RB11
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, 2nd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 pole position, 2nd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T and 3rd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 pole position
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 pole position
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, 2nd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
28.03.2015 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 pole position, 2nd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T and 3rd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
28.03.2015 - Free Practice 3, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
28.03.2015 - Free Practice 3, Max Verstappen (NED) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10
28.03.2015 - Free Practice 3, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 VJM08

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D-Fuct - Unregistered

May 25, 2013 11:09 PM

I don't remember many hero bits from McLaren in a while - perhaps the article should be titled 'from not particularly great to nowhere'.. Still, they've nailed the poorest performance per £ spent ratio which is quite an achievement in itself. Looks like Hamilton made the best move imaginable.

sokudo - Unregistered

May 26, 2013 1:17 AM

They took a risk, it didn't pay off. It happens, though not usually for a team like McLaren. Right now best thing they can do is get everything they can right because with a car that isn't all that quick, with Button particularly (and Perez more consistently later on in the season I feel), they have skilled enough drivers to really take advantage of odd situations such as weather, tyre degradation being more extreme than expected etc. But they're making the mistakes, especially with Button. Malaysia a bodged pitstop cost Button a certain 5th, a very possible 4th (Hamilton's fuel issues) and a potential podium! (Nico wasn't great on fuel either). And now Button was looking at a top 5 (a miracle really) in quali, the car fails.



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