Lack of tech­ni­cal di­rec­tion has cast them adrift

F1 Racing - - IN­SIDER -

The McLaren MP4-29 is a bet­ter car than it looked in the rst half of the year. Its low nose al­lows de­cent front sus­pen­sion com­pli­ance; it’s had few me­chan­i­cal is­sues; and it’s not slow on the straights, al­though it’s no Wil­liams-beater.

Part of the prob­lem, they say, is that they can’t get the 29 to work on Pirelli su­per­softs. This high­lights a big­ger is­sue: the team is very de­part­men­talised. It’s so­lu­tion-friendly in the best pos­si­ble tech­ni­cal senses of the words, but the up­shot, for a team so big, is that they have be­gun to chase their tails. In try­ing to make the car work on su­per­softs, for ex­am­ple, they’re sprint­ing down a de­vel­op­ment trail that leads nowhere – or which shouldn’t ex­ist in the rst place. Thus real de­vel­op­ment suf­fers.

Sam Michael looks good in his sport­ing direc­tor role, but in terms of the di­rec­tion of de­vel­op­ment the ship is a big one to re-nav­i­gate. McLaren, like Fer­rari, ejected their team prin­ci­pal ear­lier in the year but in both cases you won­der if they – the boards – re­ally knew what they were do­ing. McLaren need a Paddy Lowe, an Adrian Newey, or even a Tim Goss in charge of the car. Whether there’s a Whit­marsh or a Den­nis at the top is ir­rel­e­vant. F1 is about a good tech­ni­cal per­son run­ning the com­plete car – it’s not about lead­ers. Lead­ers should do noth­ing more than se­lect those good peo­ple and give them the plat­form on which to do their thing.

For now, McLaren ex­ist in a pur­ga­tory of their own mak­ing, nei­ther pro­gress­ing nor re­gress­ing.

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