McLaren aiming for fewer mistakes all round

2011 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe says the team need to iron out mistakes at several levels of its operation.

Lewis Hamilton has drawn criticism for several high-profile errors this year.

Lowe admitted that while Hamilton needs to cut out the mistakes, he doesn’t want to compromise his racing ability: “Clearly Lewis has made mistakes. All drivers make mistakes.

“We want Lewis to make less mistakes, I guess, but equally we don’t want to stop him driving in a way that he does. He is, I think the most entertaining driver we have out there. Very, very fast, very good at getting through in the race, even if he doesn’t start from the front.

“That has allowed him to win 16 races and a world championship and we don’t want to erode that spirit. That’s what makes him what he is and that’s what makes him a driver that everybody enjoys.

“So of course he will be thinking ‘how can I make less mistakes?’ but I think that’s just a local blip.”

Lowe said the team have created problems for themselves by failing to get on pole position for any of the races so far this year.

He said: “The first thing is we haven’t delivered a car that’s been quick enough, generally, particularly in qualifying.

“Even though in the race we’ve had some of the fastest race paces, often faster than the Red Bulls, it’s been more difficult to show that and deliver from it because we’re not starting at the front. And it is easier to stay out of trouble if you start at the front, so that certainly is a factor.

“But I don’t think we should take away from what Red Bull have achieved and particularly what Sebastian [Vettel] has achieved. Their reliability rate, both mechanicall and operationally, and driver-wise in terms of incidents, has been extraordinary.

“We’ve had good years, better years than this year. If you look back to 2007 Lewis had an extraordinary run of reliability, both operational and mechanical, and unquantifiable we’ve not matched that level since then, but we work hard.”

He added the team’s new hire will help them in this respect:

“I think bringing Sam Michael into the team as sporting director will certainly be a great help to some of the operational aspects. So it involves work across the board and I don’t think it’s just a matter of ‘Lewis, don’t make so many mistakes’.”

Lowe gave further details of how Michael will work within the team:

“It won’t represent a big shift in how we balance the team, the factory and the circuit.

“Sam’s been brought in as sporting director. We did have a sporting director before, that was Dave Ryan, for the last couple of years we haven’t had one.

“It’s a recognised role, it’s one that many other teams have, so really we’re bringing in Sam to deliver better management of the performance of the cars and the drivers and the team.

“I think Sam brings some great experience from the technical side and I think that will play very well into that role, so we’re very excited about Sam coming on board. As I mentioned earlier there are things we can do to improve our operational performance and I think Sam can contribute in that area.”

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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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25 comments on “McLaren aiming for fewer mistakes all round”

  1. McLaren have the potential to challenge Red Bull – their biggest problem is they don’t exactly come sprinting out of the gate. It’s more like a drunken stumble. Certainly something that needs to be addressed if they’re going to stand a chance in 2012.

    1. I think what Lowe says here about Sam Michael now getting in to help iron out the stupid mistakes during the weekends.

      If they could have avoided those qualifying errors where they sent their driver out late, or had bad communication, the team might have posed more of a challenge to Red Bull this year.
      Not making those pitstop errors would have helped as well, and just think of the stupid one last year in Monaco!

      But certainly they also need to get a bit more speed in the car for next year, so they can get on pole regularly.

    2. Whereas Ferrari come sprinting out the gate but then get drunk when the season begins.

      1. And then they fire the bartender; in this case, Costa.

    3. kenneth Ntulume
      6th October 2011, 7:06

      very funny………coming out stumbling

    4. I was hoping @Keith would talk about some of the mistakes that the team has made but i am disappointed to read yet another listing of Hamilton’s mistakes – i think that is getting stale now – something about how the team will be handling its strategy, pit stop and pit wall guffs would have been more informative

      1. i am disappointed to read yet another listing of Hamilton’s mistakes

        @ndinyo Where?

      2. Pretty much the whole article is a quote, so deduce from it what you like. I don’t think anyone needs a list of Hamilton’s mistakes this year, he’s not exactly been out of the headlines. @NDINYO

  2. Let me get the blatantly obvious joke option out of the way and suggest they sack Ramilton.

    1. Should have kept it to yourself.

    2. Yeah, Virgin could use Lamilton. Or maybe Hispania Racing Turtles.

  3. As much of a fan of McLaren I have been especially since Lewis and then Jenson joined, a criticism I have of 2011 is the risks that Lewis has taken, especially with Massa & Maldonado. The one with Kobayashi was pretty bad, should’ve thought about him coming up the outside.

    Once the crashing issues are sorted, along with that of the wheel at Silverstone (of all places) for Jenson, the points loss relative to Red Bull and even Ferrari will decrease and they’ll be closer to the titles.

    As to whether they can win depends on their car being brilliant out of the blocks and Red Bull’s RB8 being rubbish, which is impossible given the RB7’s qualifying dominance.

  4. mclaren has been really prone to mistakes, maybe “unforced errors” by the team and drivers since 2008ish. a bit more so than ferrari. red bull were pretty solid through 2010, and this year the team, and vettel, are nearly flawless (or so it seems). there was the tire mix-up earlier this year, but that’s all i can remember. if you want to dominate this sport, you need the holy trinity: driver, car and team.

  5. Spot on in my opinion! It has been frustrating being a McLaren fan this year with the communication errors and pit stop / qualifying strategies..

    As much as I hate it we could really learn from RBR, their team is just unified and flawless race after race! Especially their pit stops such consistency..

  6. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    5th October 2011, 16:07

    The team has potential, they even challenged RB in some races… it’s not a bad team, it’s just RB being superb this time on Vettel’s hands. Button proved he can beat Webber once again.

  7. “The first thing is we haven’t delivered a car that’s been quick enough, generally, particularly in qualifying”

    Spot on.

    They have the best duo, all they need is equipment (pit and factory team included) to match the skills of their drivers.

    For Lewis, when season ends, instead of Hawaii, he should try a week or too in a high-end Safari reserve, Mala Mala is South Africa would make wonders to his mindset.

  8. The refueling issue in Singapore was totally amateur. Wheel nut issues. They need to tighten things up.

    This has not been their best year in overall effectiveness, but circumstances have shined a brighter light on this. In particular, RBR’s main advantage over McLaren this year is that Vettel and Webber are not swapping the best finishes. If McLaren had one of their drivers consistently finishing ahead of the other, this title would not be forgone conclusion. I think Button and Hamilton’s average race finish is less than 1 position apart. If Kovalainen was in one of the cars, they might be contending for one of the titles this year.

  9. Whereas Ferrari have been perhaps too conservative this year, McLaren have been a bit too aggressive at times, both in design and in strategy, and I think this has been a contributing factor in Hamilton’s erratic performances this year.

    McLaren could have pushed Red Bull a little harder this year, but after Vettel brilliantly fended them off at Barcelona and Monaco they began to get a bit too aggressive, and as a result instead of having what should have been a fairly easy 2nd and 3rd in the championship, they’re left fighting Webber and Alonso for it.

  10. All well and good to aim to cut out the mistakes but I hope Michael really gets them to do it. As long as they have this “too clever” mentality they’ll be making daft decisions for a while yet. Quotes like this don’t help either:

    “So of course he will be thinking ‘how can I make less mistakes?’ but I think that’s just a local blip.”

    I mean, just…what?

    1. Its not rocket science!

  11. Looking at all the shifting that is happening next year seems like Mclaren & Mercedes will have the strongest technical team.

    1. Don’t forget Ferrari started restructuring the team at the start of this year/end of last year already, and it seems they did cut out the mistakes at least for Alonso.
      They might be able to get results a bit earlier then either McLaren or Mercedes.

  12. I believe mistakes made by drivers are relatively acceptable due to them being in the action and milli-seconds to make decisions, but mistakes by the team either in strategy, pit-stop, tyres, set-ups or car design are not acceptable and it puts drivers at a disadvantage which increases the risk the driver has to take.

    Mclaren has to also manage the mistakes better. Panicing, as they often do, makes the error escalate, as with the tyre error in Hungary. I did not see why Lewis had to go out back in Q2 only to get his tyre busted. They analysed the times and came to the conclusion that Lewis posting a better time in Q2 than the benchmark time was adequate but still doubted it. Then having extra tyres gave them a false sense of security in their tyre strategy. And never tell Lewis to “go for it” after a team screw-up.

    These are mistakes that makes a driver, especially Lewis, work harder and risk more to mitigate.

  13. if Michael is going to fill in Ryan’s shoes, i think things are going to be better for Mclaren…since they fired Ryan in 2009 everything went downhill for Mclaren

  14. I do hope that McLaren sort it out next year. I’d love to see what Button can do in 2012.

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