"A lack of consistent leadership" was the root cause of McLaren's Formula 1 struggles through 2018 that meant it was years in the making, according to team CEO Zak Brown.

McLaren targeted a return towards the front of the F1 field in 2018 following the switch to Renault engines, only to finish sixth in the constructors' championship and record a race finish no higher than fifth. McLaren ended the year consistently racing as the second-slowest team.

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For Brown, many of the key issues at McLaren lay in how the team was being managed, making 2018 a year that was foreshadowed for some time.


"Ultimately what got us here this year started five years ago. This year’s problem is years in the works," Brown said.

"My summary of that is that we’ve had a lack of consistent leadership. I don’t point the fingers at any one individual. That was a lack of focus because of all the activities that were going on, from the boardroom down: buyouts; merging of companies; team principals in; team principals out; CEOs in; CEOs out.

"It was just a constant revolving kind of lack of focus, and I think that’s what created the issue. And then what fell out of that is that people didn’t have clear goals and accountability, responsibility.

"Ultimately that’s what produced a poor race car this year. It was kind of our structure, our organisation. The individual people are extremely talented. We’ve got world championships, we’ve got over 100 people that have been here for over 20 years.

"They haven’t forgotten how to win we just didn’t have the right infrastructure in place, and that’s what we’ve set out to fix."

A number of key management changes took place at McLaren through 2018, the most notable being the departure of racing director Eric Boullier at the beginning of July after four years in the role.

Key technical figures including Tim Goss and Matt Morris have also left the team, with Toro Rosso technical director James Key set to join McLaren in 2018. Gil de Ferran has also become McLaren's sporting director, taking a more hands-on approach within the team after previously being an advisor.

Asked by Crash.net if a year like 2018 was necessary for McLaren to uncover its root issues, Brown said: "I would have preferred to have a good year, but of course, this year was a surprise to all of us.

"It did get you to look in the mirror quickly, get really close to the team, make some changes, so ideally long term we will have benefited the racing team from this year.

"We’ve uncovered lots of areas that we’ve had some shortcomings, that ultimately will be a good point because we think we addressed them or we’re on our way to addressing them."