Whitmarsh “not seriously worried” about pace

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Martin Whitmarsh plays down concerns over McLaren’s performance but admits they need to see gains from the German Grand Prix upgrade package.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Whitmarsh: worrying will not make our car go faster (The Telegraph)

“At this time I’m not seriously worried. Being worried doesn’t make the car go quicker. Of course I’m disappointed, but there’s no magic.”

British GP Review (Williams)

Chief operations engineer Mark Gillan: “We continue to work with Bruno in the simulator and with the race programme to help him optimise his qualifying pace and I think that he can take a lot of positives from Silverstone into Hockenheim. He was unlucky not to progress into the final qualifying session when his hot timed lap was severely compromised by the yellow flag.”

Ferrari in no rush with driver decision (Autosport)

Stefano Domenicali: “I am happy to see that Felipe was fourth. He was very unlucky in Valencia, so I think it [his struggle] is all over. I am happy to see after a very difficult start that he is in this shape and I really hope he can keep it up to the end.”

Mark Webber a major title contender – Jaime Alguersuari (BBC)

“He demonstrated in 2010 that he could fight for the championship and he is showing it again now.”

Silverstone via Twitlonger

“If you have experienced difficulties please ensure that you keep hold of your unused tickets and relevant stubs and email us at BGP2012@silverstone.co.uk and we will deal with queries on an individual basis. For any enquiries linked to bookings made through a third party please contact them directly.”

The best of British (Sky)

“It wasn’t good by any means and my personal experience is that the traffic management out and about was very poor, and personnel at key pinch points weren’t briefed or empowered enough to make sensible decisions. They must also recognise that Friday is like a full on race day at just about every other GP and should be treated as such.”

F1 Online – review (The Guardian)

“If you’re a Formula One fanatic with a propensity for games which let you tinker to heart’s content and dip into and out of play for short periods, you should find it pretty satisfying.”

Comment of the day

Chris Goldsmith on Mark Webber’s decision to choose Red Bull over Ferrari:

This is an interesting (if rather unsurprising) announcement, which tells you something about Formula One in the modern era. Namely, that Ferrari don’t have the kind of ‘brand power’ they once did. When I started watching F1, even though it was in the heyday of Williams and McLaren, there was always a sense that the Scuderia had a certain romantic allure which meant they had the pick of drivers on the grid. When young karters dreamt of racing in F1, that dream would almost invariably include a set of red overalls and a beautiful scarlet car.

These days I get a sense that the stock of Ferrari is a little diminished. Its privileged place in the makeup of the sport has certainly been eroded in the past decade, with Ferrari receiving a less preferential cut of the money, and having less political influence than it once had. Drivers are also a little more canny than in days of old, with managers seeking out the most competitive seat on the grid they can. A seat which hasn’t been in the red car of late.

The fact that Alonso has pledged his future to the team, and seems happy to honour that agreement regardless the performance of the team, tells us that there is still a certain special something about the prancing horse. But few can argue that the days where drivers would step over their own mothers to drive for the oldest team on the grid seem to be numbered. Webber has made a logical decision to stay in a competitive car rather than risk spending the rest of his career in the doldrums. Time will tell whether that was the right decision.
Chris Goldsmith

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On this day in F1

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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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64 comments on “Whitmarsh “not seriously worried” about pace”

  1. I don’t buy the whole idea of McLaren being in crisis and the idea that their championship aspirations are in trouble. We’ve seen cars move up and down the grid often this year, McLaren are just going through the same thing Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, Sauber and Williams have on different weekends this season: a small blip in form, mainly in my view caused by the Pirellis affecting unique characteristics on different cars at different circuits.
    McLaren will return to form and it’ll be sooner than later.

    1. I hope you’re right but I think you’re wrong.

    2. @colossal-squid well, you’re right at some point.

      But you have to remember that McLaren had the fastest car at the beginning of the season. And in Valencia they were outpaced by far by Red Bull. And now Ferrari has been matching them since Spain. So McLaren must be the only team that has been gradually going down.

      This season has proven very unconsistent. But just up to the point when you see Alonso scored 4 podiums in 5 races and could’ve scored another one at Canada (had they pitted for new tyres early enough, like Hamilton… it was an strategical mistake, not lack of pace). And Red Bull has been on pole in 3 of the last 4 races, and just missed the top spot last saturday by less than a tenth.

      Those two teams have gone fowards in terms of performance, whereas McLaren has gone slightly down.

      The most worrying thing, though, it’s that they lost so many points in the pit stops alone. Ferrari, with a worse car, made the best out of the situation and scored a lot more points than what they were expecting. Those missed chances could decide the championship, and not in their way.

      Will they come back to the top? yes, surely. Will it be enough? mmm, not sure. Not if Ferrari, Red Bull and even Lotus keep improving.

      1. Has their performance gone down or has it just not increased as much as Ferrari and Red Bulls?
        One things for sure; they are definitely not winning the development race so far this season. And that is something they should be worried about. (Unless they are quite confident in the potential of their Germany updates.)

        1. I would say its their developments not bringing as big a progress as those from Red Bull and Ferrari @julian, which is probably logical, when they had the best package to start with.
          Ferrari (and to an extent RBR) could learn from analysing the McLaren exhausts, Newey got his tunnels for blowing perfected, while McLaren possibly have a hard time balancing rear and front downforce with raising the nose.

        2. @julian well, either way, isn’t that the point? they are not winning the development race.

        3. I think their development has not been focused. They have spent a lot of time and resources over the past couple of months trying to find out what was Jenson’s problem. Why was there such a large gap between him and Hamilton in the same car. Changes were made to address these problems but to no avail.
          Even with all of it’s resources McLaren can’t race and wind like that. They messed with a competitive car and screwed up instead of improving it. In other words they were trying to do too many things at once. Where was the focus?

      2. @fer-no65 @bascb Looking at those points you have made (all of them I agree with) I’d like to ask how many times have a team as big as McLaren been the fastest at the start of the season, only to be swallowed up by the midfield towards the middle to end? Putting aside all the points they’ve dropped through error, it would be unbelievable for them to not remain in the title hunt. I’ve only seen it happen with Brawn GP, and I think that was down to money running out and they couldn’t develop the car.

        Looking at the comments here there seem to be many who believe this drop in pace may remain for the rest of the season, or long enough to end McLaren’s title chances. I struggle to see how a team such as this couldn’t quickly recover. As @jcost says I’m only using what I’ve seen through the years to look to the future. Having a title favourite team after the first two 2 races fade away? It’s very unlikely in my view.

        1. @colossal-squid Well, it has happened before. But all the times I’ve seen that happening, the fastest team in the first part of the season had a points cushion, some distance they could manage and which gave them time to recover and react.

          McLaren doesn’t have that. They are already behind. I’ve seen McLaren bouncing back from a weird winter testing season and improve the pace bastly, but they tend to take a lot more time than, say, Ferrari. For example, in 2010, while Ferrari dropped in pace a lot and even so were the favourite to win the title in the last race, McLaren started good-ish, then they were the fastest, and then they slowly faded away after the summer break.

          I’m not saying they won’t be back, but Red Bull and Ferrari have improved faster and are already ahead. I can’t see them dropping in the development race, just as I can’t see McLaren recover their lead.

    3. I don’t think Mclaren really had the fastest car in Australia. They were able to use the tyres.
      Redbulls problem this season has been managing to turn the tyres on. So also Ferrari and Mercedes.
      Lotus get the tyres working during the races but not very well in qualifying.
      Mclaren’s mistake was to believe a fast car alone would win races.
      Withmarsh has not been worried about their pitstops until race 7. Result, good points thrown away.
      Now he isn’t worried about their pace.
      What is he worried about then?

      1. I don’t think Mclaren really had the fastest car in Australia. They were able to use the tyres.

        Jenson Button won that race in commanding fashion. There is no doubt about that fact that they had the fastest car at the beginning of the season.

        1. Exactly. Plus they locked out the front row in both of the first 2 races.

          1. What about Bahrain?

      2. “What is he (Whitmarsh) worried about then.”

        Is anybody else starting to think that Mclaren’s problem is Whitmarsh? He always comes across as the smiling I-want-to-be-friends-with-everyone type. I think you need to have a pretty strong personality to run an F1 team and am begining to think that Whitmarsh is to “wooly”.

        Apart from Hamilton’s championship, have Mclaren won anything since Whitmarsh took over?

    4. @colossal-squid
      We don’t know the future, so men tend to portrait the future based on past experiences. McLaren’s recent form is worrying, however, it’s not the best way to predict what’s to come in F1, particularly this season as you pointed out. However, maybe it’s pessimism, I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

    5. HewisLamilton
      11th July 2012, 15:00

      I can’t help but wonder if the stepped nose design that the other teams have used is working to their advantage now. McLaren chose not to use the stepped design, could this be a limiting factor at this point in the season? Other teams seem to find pace, maybe they are extracting more by means of developement relating to the stepped design.

      1. I made a presentation for my uni tutor before the beginning of the season and told him that the Maccas look fastest but because of the lack of stepped nose design they might not have the same potential for development and their performance might diminish relative to others as the season goes on. He asked me why and I told him that they simply wont have the same amount of air passing under the car as others do and so they wont have as much air to work with as other teams. And sure enough , a few races in and Mclaren lift the nose as much as they can to maximise the airflow below the car but it does little to help as their problem is in the fundamental design of their chassis not the nose cone. I’ll would wait for a few more races to see what they can come up with but its interesting to see anyway.

    6. stay optimistic!

  2. “We continue to work with Bruno in the simulator and with the race programme to help him optimise his qualifying pace and I think that he can take a lot of positives from Silverstone into Hockenheim. He was unlucky not to progress into the final qualifying session when his hot timed lap was severely compromised by the yellow flag.”

    The cynic in me reads this as “Senna’s sponsors are about to pay up, and we’re hard-pressed to justify keeping him in the seat, but we really need that money”.

    1. …Or it could be read, alternatively, as “Bruno’s sector times were good enough for a possible spot in Q3, until he lifted for the yellow flags.” Which is true. What a crazy idea!

      1. Each to their own ;)

      2. just a small note, he got beaten by Karun Chandok.
        (better driver than myself for sure, but you understand)

    2. I don’t see why they would want to drop Senna right now.

      He has struggled in qualifying but he’s been very strong in races. I actually went back & looked at race lap times from the last few races & he’s been faster than Maldonado. Last time out at Silverstone through the race he was consistently half second+ faster than Pastor.

      If he can improve his qualifying pace then I can see him scoring big points regularly based off his race pace to this point.

    3. DK (@seijakessen)
      12th July 2012, 15:49

      The only problem Bruno really has right now is his qualifying times.

      It’s a shame because he’s looked very good in a lot of races this season. Australia and Canada were the two worst races he drove, and Spain is unknown since he had the incident with Schumacher. If he could get into Q3, I actually think he would have more points than Maldonado now in spite of Maldonado’s win at Catalunya.

  3. Keith, will you be posting any more fan videos from recent GPs?

    1. Seconding this question, I’ve really enjoyed that feature in the past. I know a couple friends who were at the race, and they definitely got some great photos, but I don’t think they took any video, and I always love seeing bits of the race from grandstand perspectives.

    2. @tdog @leucocrystal Thanks for the positive feedback guys. I would like to be able to do the articles again but time constraints have made it impossible for recent races (as I mentioned back in February I’ve had to take on some other projects this year). I’ll look into whether there’s some way they could be brought back.

  4. cotd: I think your reading too much into Webber’s signing. Who’s to say that Webber dosent go on to drive for Ferrari in 2014 and finish his career there? Half the grid have been linked to driving for Ferrari this year at some point; the current world champion is rumoured to have a pre-contract do drive for them in 2014 and if you believe the media, Vettel talks in admiration of the scuderia. You could have said the same thing at the start of the 90’s when Senna rejected an offer from Ferrari (although he always said he wanted to retire whist driving for Ferrari), you could also say Prost only went to Ferrari after Senna made McLaren his team…but Ferrari were rubbish then and you had to wait until 1996 until Schumacher made his dreams of driving for Ferrari a reality and turned their fortunes around

    Do Italians count? Fisichella dropped a good seat in Force India to drive for la scuderia…dont know about stepping over his mother but his father probably would have slapped his if he hadnt taken it lol

    1. I think the point is that Ferrari isn’t the team you wished to race in anymore. Fisichella, as every italian, dreamed about driving for the Scuderia, so it was a no-brainer for him, even if it ended his career (I’m sure he’d have stayed in Force India for 2010, instead of the “mighty” Liuzzi).

      I guess so many years of clear number 2 drivers ruined every star’s dream of racing for Ferrari.

    2. Well, I do think that certainly for drivers from Latino countries, such as Spain, Italy, and parts of South America, probably have the Ferrari mentality more than drivers from elsewhere. It’s interesting though, the pieces Martin Brundle has been doing recently from the Ferrari factory. One thing he says over and over again is how it’s fulfilling a life’s dream for him, to drive a Ferrari F1 car. I would say that for a lot of British drivers these days, Ferrari has no such draw, and most would be more interested in driving for McLaren and Red Bull. Yes, some of this is down to performance, yet Ferrari have been at least as competitive as McLaren over the past decade or so. Likewise, German drivers are much more likely to want to drive for Mercedes than the Italian team, while Michael Schumacher had a desire to go to Ferrari even though they were in a huge slump at the time.

      It’s probably not just down to performances in F1. I’d say that as a sportscar brand, Ferrari aren’t quite what they used to be. Their cars were once considered the very best sportscars in the world, yet these days they are just one manufacturer in a very crowded market for aspirational luxury supercars. Surprising, really, considering what an absolute shambles the global economy seems to be in at the moment.

      Maybe it’s about time Ferrari put together a serious prototype team for the WEC. Audi’s success has certainly done wonders for their brand over the years.

      1. Drivers who are aware of the history of the sport – and who want their name to be part of it – want to drive for Ferrari.

        Drivers who just want to be successful will seek out the best and fastest car.

        1. Maybe Webber wanted both? i.e. win the drivers championship with Red Bull this year, complete his career at Ferrari? Who knows, maybe he got the idea that committing to Red Bull would boost his chances of winning this year, so he’d have to sacrifice any move to Ferrari? Quote Webber:

          I’m sure everyone understands the lure of racing for Ferrari, but in the end there were just too many pros to staying at Red Bull Racing – it was as simple as that.

          I’d say winning the championship this year is no.1.

      2. Yes, some of this is down to performance, yet Ferrari have been at least as competitive as McLaren over the past decade or so.

        Lets compare stats for the last 10 full seasons (2002-2011)
        Wins: Ferrari 71 – 41 (incl 2007) McLaren
        Constructors Championships: Ferrari 5 – 0 McLaren
        Drivers Championships: Ferrari 4 – 1 McLaren

        Of course in the last few seasons the pendulum has certainly swung towards McLaren.

  5. Oh, I think you should Martin…

    1. Finally someone who can take the words out of my mouth! I read this and just couldn’t believe how laid back he is about this. The form has been slipping for a while and it’s been on all kind of tracks as well so there’s that argument over. Considering where they were at the start to being behind the Lotus team is really shoddy for a team of McLarens stature.

    2. With all the PR and Fuzz while giving up racing ground, McLaren should consider becoming an advertising agency rather than Racing Team.

      1. McLaren should consider becoming an advertising agency rather than Racing Team.

        – looks funny to read this is almost exactly the same we said of Hamilton and his glamour agency last year, making him and McLaren the perfect fit @kimi4wc :-)

        1. Ouch.

  6. Sometimes the truth cannot be seen from inside maybe because people become too accustomed to what they used to have. I suspect current McLaren is midfielder now. It only kept top form in both quali and race for the Aussie GP. During Malaysian GP, it still kept top form at quali but not so much in race pace and then on, it gradually fell behind. I think HAM’s win of Canadian GP was frankly due to luck, where wrong information of the pit on Ferrari’s strategy actually played in very favor of McLaren. If they did got correct information and decided to not make 2nd pit, McLaren might have found itself outside podium. RBR was tangibly faster than McLaren there and Ferrari was also slightly faster than McLaren.
    And from the Valencia, the pace of RBR in quali and race become noticeable and this is evidenced at so called McLaren friendly Silverstone in terms of tyre specific characteristics while RBR has been consistently faster than McLaren there too.
    The pure lack or deficiency of pace of McLaren becomes self-explanatory if one sees the pace of BUT who qualifies within top 3-4 when the car is fastest with a little bit of edge in race pace but when the car is not in form, his quali is TBH beyond Q3 most of the cases. So my guess is McLaren’s real pace has been obscured and misguided by HAM’s performance in quali and Canadian GP win.
    So now hearing MW says the situation is not serious truly sounds serious for McLaren fans. Still he seems to recognize one thing correct though, that the pace cannot be achieved overnight and or just spelling worries. All in all, they must’ve been in wrong direction development-wise and smoking something in la-la land???
    Who knows? But I doubt that they will be in a competitive form sooner than later. Maybe way later than sooner unless they do something in serious mode.

  7. I think the COTD is reading far too much into Webber’s decision. Webber has just chosen the faster car, simple as that.
    Ferrari’s allure is definitely not on the decline. On the other hand, I think their stock has gone up thanks to the weakening of the other historic team: Williams.

    1. Webber lives in England and has been with the Red Bull team for a very long time. I think that’s played a big part in his decision, probably more than whatever brand value Ferrari have or don’t have. Why shake his whole life up just to drive for a team which hasn’t had a faster car than his own since 2008?

    2. Let’s be honest no one has the guts.

  8. McLaren are the team who have lost the most in terms of pace this year and probably results as well. They are fortunate in that the teams are extremely competitive so while it’s easy to lose out it shouldn’t be as hard as previous seasons too make it up. They will win more races and get on top of things but it’s just a case of when and it hopefully not being to late.

  9. Shame. Poor Mclaren fans.

    1. How on earth did you come to that conclusion? Martin Whitmarsh makes it pretty clear that the team expect this to be a temporary situation, and that there is no pressing need to address it because they have an upgrade in the works for Hockenheim that they believe will make their cars more competitive. So why should the team panic over their recent lack of form when they have a major upgrade scheduled for the next race? There is no genuine cause for concern unless the Germany upgrade proves useless, so why waste time and energy worrying about that which cannot be fixed?

      1. I was joking due to all the moaning going on. Its funny because hardly anyone went on like this (witch hunt mob. fire him, fire her mentality) when the other teams showed poor form.

        1. @infy: Is that really surprising. McLaren are a British team with two world champion British drivers. As this is an English language website, with a large proportion of British contributors, I find it difficult to believe that you are surprised at the volume of opinions expressed on McLaren’s decline.

          1. Surely that would result in a large showing of support? All we’re really seeing is criticism & blame, which a supporter would never do. So are you saying a large percentage of the sites posters are British but not Mclaren supporters?

          2. McLaren have been disappointing from 2009 onwards. Four seasons. At the same time, improvement and leading the pack is always depicted by the team’s management as ‘just around the corner.’ Given the resources and driving talent at their disposal, it’s not unreasonable to expect more. Added to that, this year sloppy pit work has cost a series of time losses and unnecessary penalties that make the search for an extra tenth of a second seem completely pointless. If McLaren want the kind of fan support given to Ferrari, then they have to accept that comes with fan pressure for changes when performance drops. It didn’t do Ferrari much harm at the start of this season.

      2. The most striking thing is how far they’ve gone in terms of standing table and people are reading too much into it. McLaren won the Canadian GP after a good team effort and Lewis qualified second to Vettel before a bad pit service and Maldonando destroyed his targeted top 3 finish at Valencia, it wasn’t long ago!

        Their poor pace at Silverstone triggered many concerns but I think we should wait (at least) til Germany to properly assess their chances of landing a title this year.

      3. They should worry because it might well be wet again in Germany.
        They couldn’t run what upgrades they had at Silverstone thanks to the weather, so they could go from being one GP behind in development to three.
        The other worry is that they don’t now seem to understand the car that they have, which makes the task of validating the performance of the upgrades that much more difficult.

        Worrying might not make the car go faster, but complacency certainly won’t.

      4. @prisoner-monkeys

        Martin Whitmarsh makes it pretty clear that the team expect this to be a temporary situation, and that there is no pressing need to address it because they have an upgrade in the works for Hockenheim that they believe will make their cars more competitive.

        I would rather have a fast car already, as many other teams have. Than to have an untested upgrade package due that is EXPECTED to make the car better. All the while other teams will be working on upgrades too, upgrades that will be further in development than McLaren’s.

        Face it, they’re behind and they should be worried about it. They’ve as good as lost the title already.

        1. @nick-uk – What on earth can McLaren do between now and Germany to fix their problems, considering that they except the Germany update to bring them back to the front?

          1. Ensure a ‘Plan B’ is suitably in place, such as evaluating what other possible upgrades could be developed over the summer break. Hedging all there bets on one update is risky, if it doesn’t work as expected then what? To suggest there is nothing they could be doing between now and Germany is stupid. Do you think McLaren have given the whole team a week off after Silverstone? Of course not, there are likely hundreds of things to be done; which seeing as I do not run a team I won’t be able to axhaustivley list for you here.

          2. You think they haven’t already done that?

            Whitmarsh is saying he sees no reason to be concerned. Obviously, he has a very good reason for not being concerned.

  10. A little off topic but I am surprised at how bad the Lotus cars are performing. They have a car faster than the ferrari but stil no race wins. I wonder if its because of the attitude of the drivers the team. I know the team have won championships but that was a long time ago and under Flavio, i think if there was someone like him in the team, they sure would have scored much more than they actually have now.

  11. I get the impression that Mclaren are looking at each other thinking, So when do we start working on next year`s Car?

  12. Ok, Whitmarsh didn’t say he is not worried like he is relax and cool…he said worrying doesn’t help! that doesn’t mean he is not concerned!

  13. I Love the Pope
    11th July 2012, 16:37

    I love Ferrari. That hasn’t changed one bit. I really like Vettel too, but I’ve never really been crazy about Red Bull. I don’t think they’ll be around forever, and at the end of the day, I get more excited about car manufacturers building cars than awful-tasting drinks companies building cars. Red Bull is so “last decade” for me. You know the whole “extreme!” thing is really old. It was a fad. Give me something real to hold onto, and for me that is Ferrari and Mercedes. McLaren are getting there too.

  14. McLaren’s biggest problem in most of the races this year has been race pace.
    Often we see Lewis qualify well only to have horrid pace throughout the race & fall backwards.

    Ferrari, Red Bull, Lotus & I think even Sauber & Williams all have very consistent race pace, I think in some cases all of these teams are faster in races than qualifying which is why we often see there drivers qualify further back but move forwarsd towards the front during races.

    Something I remember from Pre-Season is that McLaren said they had put more focus on single lap pace as they felt that was important based off 2011. However I think the 2012 tyres have flipped things round so that where you start is no longer as important, Its consistency through a race & how you use your tyres.

    1. but if you have a bad starting position, you’ll destroy your tyres in dirty air when fighting for position. so quali is still important but you should also learn how to make the tyres last!

    2. McLaren’s biggest problem in most of the races this year has been race pace.
      Often we see Lewis qualify well only to have horrid pace throughout the race & fall backwards.

      That is not necessarily correct. In two races, he had gone backwards even before the race had started, sent to 7th on one occasion and sent to 24th on another, through no fault of his.
      In 7 races, he actually had pit errors that were responsible for him losing time relative to his competition.
      Mclaren when they had good race pace had destroyed those potentials by messing up in the pits.
      When they then lacked race pace, his qualifying pace had flattered to deceive.
      When you compare both team mates, you will see their performances has been almost identical in terms of drop off. The fact Button is qualifying poorly, has masked the cars real poor race form.

  15. Lotus can be a major force this season if they can improve qualifying without compromising race pace, arguably they should have won at least 2 races this season.
    However their position is good at the moment because any team on the grid would prefer a better race pace than qualifying pace.

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