Whitmarsh defends late test for new McLaren

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Martin Whitmarsh says using the old car for the first test was the best approach for McLaren.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Q&A – McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh (F1)

“In the case of the MP4-26, one of the most significant performance factors facing every team for 2011 was the introduction of the new Pirelli tyres – a variable that, by running at Valencia using last year’s car, we felt we could more richly evaluate in isolation, on a platform that we already knew and understood. In actual fact, that first test proved extremely beneficial in providing us with rich, raw tyre data that we’ve been analysing ever since. So, while I admit that the introduction of the MP4-26 has been affected by a few reliability issues, we still stand by our decision to defer its introduction by one test.”

Toro Rosso on Twitter

“Over the past two days, we’ve done a total of sixty pit stops!”

Via the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app

Mercedes update ‘will hit target’ (Autosport)

Ross Brawn: “I think we will be pretty respectable in Melbourne, but I honestly don’t know where people are at the moment because I don’t know what fuel loads people are running.”

Felipe Massa, the workaholic of Montmelo (Ferrari)

“More or less all of us drivers are agreed that there is a need to improve the rain tyres so that they give more grip: if we were to have another race like the one last year in Korea, it would be tough to get to the finish.”

Silverstone sees profitable future and growth (Reuters)

“Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips told Reuters on Wednesday that the former World War Two airfield, owned by the British Racing Drivers’ Club, made a profit of more than 2 million pounds ($3.24 million) in 2010.”

Red Bull to charge down Orchard Rd (Channel News Asia)

“Former driving ace David Coulthard will demonstrate short sprints, burnouts, donuts and engine breaks in a one-hour event along a 1-kilometre stretch from Orchard Link junction to the Buyong Road intersection near the Istana.”

Thanks Adaptalis for the tip!

Highcrosft’s HPD ARX-01e revealed (Highcroft Racing)

“The new car features a heavily revised aerodynamic and suspension package design and built by HPD’s partner, Wirth Research.”

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Comment of the day

Klon thinks Jaime Alguersuari’s prediction of HRTs overtaking Ferraris may not be so unrealistic:

Well, of course this may sound ridiculous. On the other hand, though, if you’d said a Super Aguri could overtake the world champion in an open battle back in early 2007, most people would have laughed. So it’s not like this hasn’t happen before.

From the forum

Work continues on the overtaking statistics project – come and join in!

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On this day in F1

The non-championship Syracuse Grand Prix, held in Sicily, was won by Luigi Villoresi, driving a Ferrari.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “Whitmarsh defends late test for new McLaren”

  1. As bad as it seems now, if McLaren really have got the quality of data they say they do, theyll be gone and away by the end of the season. Getting the use of the tyres right will make any minor aerodynamic niggles irrelevant.

    This is of course assuming that Red Bull and Ferrari dont have a similar quality of tyre data, which they almost certainly will.

    1. I can’t imagine that the top teams don’t all have pretty useful tire data by now…

      1. Actually I see the point in doing the first test with the old car to build their tyre simulation model and base further development on.

        But that does not mean, that bringing out the new car a week later and having reliability problems with it, that limit their experience with the new car, is a very big trade off.

        Sure, if the basics of the car are right it might mean giving up a perfect start for a good middle of the season and a great end. But we saw in many years how a great start could make the WDC so much easier.

        It would mean, that McLaren will very much hope and count on basing next years car on what they have now so it pays out in the longer run.

    2. Just think how much time Ferrari have done on their new car, on the new tyres…tyre data will be more valuable taken from the car that you will be using throughout the season…obviously if McLaren had had reliability problems in the first test then they may have struggled to do much running, in which case it was a good move but they could not have know that back then!

      1. Or maybe they did know they would need to test a lot of different things on the new car, hence running it would have meant doing like Mercedes did, and run with a real interim car until about yesterday.

        But McLaren likely don’t worry so much about KERS, and maybe also not all too much about their suspension, but rather about aero and their exhaust/back of floor being okay – for that they would need to anyway test the real car.

        It still feels like maybe they should have done things differently, more like Red Bull and Ferrari, but I do think their 2010 car depended too much on that big DDD and the corresponding stiff suspension, which compromised it as a basis to work on for this year. I note the nose is still quite similar though :)

    3. I see Withmarsh’s point – in theory. You get data on the new tyres running a car that is a known quantity, so you can get at the ‘pure’ tyre data. Once you have that and you run the new car, you can better isolate what your overall data is telling you about the new car, because you can isolate the tyres’ effect on performance. In theory, anyways. What may be the fatal flaw in that thinking is that you would need to run the new car with the old tyres to make sure your data is really saying what you think it is.

      1. I agree, it’s kind of a double edged sword.

        However I just wonder if people would be criticising him as they are if the new Mclaren blitzed the field…

        1. Well its rare that people get criticised when things go well! But I do agree; it was a risky strategy in many ways, but you have to be ready to take criticism in this sport when things dont go as planned…thats what they sign up for, I am sure they are used to media and armchair critics grilling them, and it doesn’t affect them much!

  2. The picture of Coulthard in that Red Bull article is a bit terrifying.

    1. They’re really going all out in promoting the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix… Were there low crowd numbers in 2010 or something?

      1. @damonsmedley,

        nope, the figures were alright for 2010

      2. I rather think this is Red Bull pushing up their presence in the market.

        But the Malaysians will hope it helps their GP attendance with that April 3 run.

  3. Keith, I can’t post in the forums. I tried adding a reply to the “WRC Fanatic” thead, but the post never appears.

    1. Spam filter glitch. Fixed it, post is up.

  4. It’s a bit concerning how the Coulthard- Red Bull link up is still going strong. Saying as DC is going to be in the BBC’s F1 coverage before, during and after each GP this season, I fear his Red Bull lovin’ may get a bit nauseating

    Also, is it just me who thinks that holding one of these F1 roadshows in Singapore is a bit daft? I mean, they get a whole Grand Prix every autumn! Isn’t the idea of these things to take racing to new locations and new fans?

    1. It might be a reaction to to the news that the Malaysian GP wants to have a night race. I think those two venues are a bit competitive and the Malay is just after Melbourne so maybe they are trying to keep Singapore in the news.

    2. Did you see those 2 BBC season previews?

      They were pretty solid and I think DC did not even once refer to the wonders of Red Bull. That really suprised me, he did quit well.

    3. I see your point but i think DC also still has alot of love for Mclaren. Either way i am sure he is proffesional enough to stay impartial

  5. Just as well Coulthard isnt in Melbourne. Webber can not exceed 100kph when he drives across the Bolte Bridge here next weekend.

    1. The Victoria Police have chimed in also warning against burnouts, donuts and other anti-social behaviour.

      I think his mountain bike would suffice for this demonstration. :P

      1. Nah, that would be to dangerous this close to the start of the season. He might get seriously hurt!

        1. As a Ferrari fan I can say with all sincerity, that would be terrible. :P

          1. You need him to take points off Vettel, or be a good target for Vettel to crash into instead of running away from Massa at the start?

  6. Surely he will defend as it is a team,what is done by Mclaren is done now how quickly can they recover from that is the question.

    Mercedes needs to perform as that’s why they came in F1.

    1. here in singapore they’re promoting the event as ‘witness the 2010 F1 champion drive down orchard road’. very misleading as its going to be coulthard and not vettel in the car! but red bull ARE also 2010 F1 champions i suppose…

  7. prototype racing is in a sad state of affairs over here. complicating things are constant shake-ups from ACO, ALMS putting their own spin on the rules, poor tv coverage, and a general sense of, as my grandfather told me, “no money, no funny”.

    i thought they were on the right track a little while ago, especially with sorting out the GT classes, but it’s clear they have no idea. that goes for both ALMS and ACO.

  8. Interesting read on Ferrari’s website regarding Massa.
    Massa did FOUR pit-stops for a race simulation. That is a LOT!!

    Keith, could we have a detailed race-chart and analysis for this particular race-simulation?

    1. Imagine a race with rain in the middle and after that a drying track! Total chaos!

    2. He says getting to the finish would be hard on the wets. It should be, it’s a Grand Prix isn’t it?

  9. Ermmm… re: missed testing.

    Once again, it’s an approach that we’ve thought about carefully, and feel confident will prove beneficial.

    McLaren-speak translated: We really blew it. Not only have we not figured out our forward exhaust system, but we had to spend countless track testing hours changing it back and forth and back and forth with a rear exit exhaust to try and get the same comparative data that the 2010 car gave us on the tires. We’d love to have used the 2011 but we found high levels of carbon monoxide in the cockpit where the hot gas from the forward exhausts had burned through the floor board and leaked into the cockpit. Hamilton got a headache, but Button thought it was rather groovy. Since we have equal drivers… well we had to try and please them both.

    We know that Newey has figured out something about channeling the air outside of the 40cm floor plan centerline rule and to be honest, we can’t be seen to be copying Newey. We can’t figure it out you know, but we have to try even if it mean our drivers run around in a bit of a stupor.

    Then we have all this new software from Dassault that is completely written in French that we are trying to incorporate into our program. Can you imagine all the translators we’ve had to hire to do this? And they all want a 3 hour lunch break and they always show up smelling like garlic and red wine. How do you think that looks and smells like in a pristine engineering environment that requires it’s staff to shower 8 times a day?

    But I have to say all that other rubbish cause it’s in our contract with Vodaphone.

  10. Regarding the COTD, and JA’s comment. Of course it isn’t ridiculous to expect such things this season. After all, in 2010 we saw a 7-time WDC in a Mercedes get done by a Virgin.

    Oh, that didn’t sound quite right, did it? Let me re-phrase that. The Virgin was all over him….oh, dear, that won’t do either. The Virgin really opened up…..oh, gracious. Well, anyway, I’m looking forward to more from the Virgin this year as well.

    1. But they are not F1 virgin anymore!

  11. I just hope Wirth put at least the same effort into the F1 car, that has gone into that Honda sports car.

    To be honest, the sportscar looks far more refined and balanced to me.

  12. I would have thought that any tyre data gathered on the MP4-25 would now surely mirror everyone elses on their 2011 contenders?

    1. I guess they wanted to be sure that the only difference was the tyres. And not their radical new design.

  13. At the end of the day, it could have worked. it didn’t, now they have to move on.

    1. Yeah, I think it’s Witmarsh’s comments that really drive me buggers. Not a hint of truth there. Just the usual teeth nashing corporate speak of a CEO in deep deep trouble.

      Fans can see it, and the drivers have commented ad nauseam regarding the 2011, it’s a pig on roller skates at this point. Is Whitmarsh really that stupid? That was the whole point of that silly rant I posted earlier.

      No doubt the McLaren computers are analyzing his comments to respond to the next round of questions.

  14. Over the past two days, we’ve done a total of sixty pit stops!

    Wow, that Toro Rosso is really harsh on its tyres!

  15. After looking at the ARX-01e article, I found two articles about “the Laurel Hill site”, one on a test driver suing for being fired after complaining about ventilation; and expl. of what the site is: a nearly mile long aero-tunnel where they run a real car in controlled environment owned by Ganassi racing. Quite cool.

    The sort of thing I would imagine the Schumacher/Brawn/Ferrari team to have had back in the day.

    Or McLaren having it hidden under their tech centre – except they don’t or they wouldn’t have struggled last year or this year with the EBD stuff.

    1. Great article there, thanks for the link.

  16. Tyre data and aerodynamic data are two different things.
    Downforce is not created by the tyres. If your car is a skunk, tyre data or no tyre data, its still a skunk. I mean your engineers should have been aiming for a certain percentage of downforce relative to last year. If they don’t archieve their target downforce level, then your car will be slow regardless of if you compared the new tyres with last years car or previous years.
    Sauber didn’t use their old cars this year, their engineers already knew what they were looking for from their new car and knew they had found it.

    So Mr. whitmarsh, tell us why your car is presently slow and unreliable, and not why you have quality tyre data you are analysing endlessly.

    1. I mean your engineers should have been aiming for a certain percentage of downforce relative to last year.

      They did: McLaren aim for 2010 downforce level on new car

      Personally I still don’t buy that it’s a dog. I just think it’s behind.

  17. By all means, I donnot believe it is a dog. However, Withmarsh takes pleasure intalking about abstract things.

    Back to the car though, if they aimed at 2010 downforce level, which already Mclaren was a bit behind RBR and Ferrari, it doesn’t mean they attained it or even came close.
    A car may be slow but if it has good downforce, you will know.

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