Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2012

McLaren not being over-cautious despite failures

2012 United States Grand Prix

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Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2012McLaren say they will continue to pursue improvements in car performance while trying to fix the reliability problems which have dogged them recently.

“The failure that we had in Abu Dhabi was very painful,” said managing director Jonathan Neale during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “Having said that we’ve just done 1,500 trouble-free kilometres with the same car in the test last week.”

“Obviously we’re very mindful of the constructors’ championship and we are still taking performance upgrades to this circuit. We are not taking an overtly cautious approach but I’d say we are going to be very diligent.”

Lewis Hamilton retired from the last race in Abu Dhabi while leading. The same happened to him in Singapore and Jenson Button’s race in Italy came to an end when he had a technical problem while running second.

The team have also had technical problems during practice sessions and Button had a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Neale said the team intend to be in contention for victory at the Circuit of the Americas: “We hope and our desire is to do really well here and win the race.”

He added: “I think it’s going to be an interesting one for the drivers to have to learn on Friday and for the teams to have to balance their engineering programmes as well as allowing the drivers to get to grips with it.

“We have the extra set of tyres, I believe, on Friday, as well which should help. It’s always good to go to a new circuit but this one in particular seems to have been really well thought-out.

“I expect to see usual the suspects at the front, a really close-fought championship and pretty tantalising battles up and down the grid.”

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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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32 comments on “McLaren not being over-cautious despite failures”

  1. “Having said that we’ve just done 1,500 trouble-free kilometres with the same car in the test last week.”

    Which now puts them that much closer to the next failure!

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      14th November 2012, 20:22

      McLaren has to get this one right – if there’s another problem with Hamilton’s car, I’d love to see what percentage would still think it’s coincidence. The problem with Hamilton is that he’s driving in front of Button and that somehow affects the reliability of the car immensely. If Hamilton drove behind him, he’d have no issues whatsoever…

      1. @freelittlebirds The only thing I find hard to believe is why you are so certain a team that spends hundreds of millions of dollars per year going racing would actively try to prevent one of their drivers doing just that.

        1. Traverse Mark Senior
          14th November 2012, 21:53

          If Lewis finishes the year on a high and comfortably beats Jenson (both on the track and on the points board), it would not only compound McLaren’s mistake in failing to keep one of the best drivers on the grid, it would give Hamilton a huge boost in confidence, which could help him to settle at Mercedes.

          With the skyfall-ing on Ham’s year, coupled with him not finishing races and having an all round bad end to his season, his confidence may take a knock and Jenson could take a quantum of solace in the fact that he isn’t that far behind Ham, despite being pretty average this year.

          Either way, I believe that Ross Brawn has a goldeneye when it comes to spotting talent and potential. We all know that Lewis has that killer instinct, that licence to kill when it comes to driving on the ragged edge, and when he’s in the zone he has the ability to scare the living daylights out of the coolest of customers.

          Hamilton’s stay at McLaren might not have been as successful as he (or McLaren) had hoped. Even so, Lewis must keep perspective and remember that if you don’t succeed today, tomorrow never dies, there is always a new day just over the horizon and with his mentality and talent, his time isn’t over yet, he will die another day.

          As for McLaren, the need to live and let die. Sometimes you get the impression that the world is not enough for them. They should take a step back and re-evaluate the situation and how they run the team because it’s clear that they lack the goldfinger at the moment, that luck (without which success is almost impossible). But hey, who knows, maybe Sergio Perez will be a thunderball of a driver and administer the jump start that McLaren need…Octopussy!

          1. and in the meantime Hamilton will have pussy-cat-galore

          2. hahaha! awesome… but why?!

          3. Hilarious.. although I would throw in a Casino Royale reference with the gamble Martin took on Perez

          4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            15th November 2012, 13:05

            ok, I have no idea what that meant but it was absolutely hilarious – one of the funniest F1 posts I’ve ever read.

          5. Kenneth Ntulume
            15th November 2012, 14:01

            Bond fanatics are everywhere!

          6. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
            15th November 2012, 14:15

            I was making the point that, even though Hamilton’s season hasn’t gone as he would’ve liked, he mustn’t dwell on it. He has stared down the Jaws of defeat many a time and come out the other end relatively unscathed. If there is any negativity coming from McLaren, (such as Whitmarsh’s comments about Ham regretting his move to Merc) it is only Scaramanga-ring of the lowest level, and he shouldn’t pay attention to it.

            After all, he is in a privileged position, being one of a chosen few that get to drive the best motor cars on the planet (not to mention he gets payed a lot of MoneyPenny to do it). I doth my bowler hat to Hamilton, has F1 must be a crazy world to live in, it’s an Oddjob to have.

            I’m sorry that you didn’t have a Q as to what my post meant, that might be because it wasn’t meant *cough* for your eyes only…ok…I’ll stop now :-)

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        14th November 2012, 21:24

        @Keith-Collantine I agree with you that it’s unbelievable. That applies to everything, though. Why would Madoff run a scam when he’s a millionaire and can ask the board for 100 million dollars like the NYSE dude did? Why would a parent kill their child? Why would a judge accept a bribe when they have worked so hard to become a lawyer and then a judge?

        I sense that discrediting Hamilton is important to Whitmarsh/McLaren especially when Hamilton has chosen to leave. When has a driver at the top of his game in F1 left a team to go to another team that has scored less than 50% of the current team’s points?

        Not only that but McLaren and Hamilton have become synonymous in a way that few drivers have in F1. For instance, when you think of Lauda do you immediately think of a team? When you think of Prost, do you think of a team? When you think of the Chicago Bulls, who do you think of?

        Hamilton’s departure is a loud and clear message that he has no faith in McLaren. If he believed that there was a good chance that he would win the WDC next year, he would have stuck around.

        What’s the alternative to sabotage?

        1. @freelittlebirds If your argument is that those in charge at McLaren have the same powers of reasoning as criminals and murderers then we’re definitely never going to see eye-to-eye on this.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            14th November 2012, 22:14

            @Keith-Collantine Granted, the examples are extreme:-) But we don’t need to go to extremes. How about a teacher favoring one student over the other? I’m sure we’ll agree that’s happened.

            No one can tell with certainty what is happening but the alternative is combination of poor reliability and bad luck which are just excuses for incompetence – a card that McLaren aleady played at the start of the season.

          2. @freelittlebirds

            How about a teacher favoring one student over the other? I’m sure we’ll agree that’s happened.

            That bears no similarity at all to F1.

            I’ll say it again: McLaren, like Red Bull and Ferrari and the rest, are in it to win it. They spend hideous amounts of money to win.

            I asked Neale a question that forms the basis of this article: are they going to prioritise reliability over performance in the final races? No: they’re going to keep adding more performance to the car because they want to win.

            The idea that they’re suddenly going to compromise half their effort because one of their drivers is switching teams makes sense only to someone with the most superficial interest in F1. These are teams of hundreds of people who all crave victory. If a driver, engineer, mechanic or janitor is switching teams, they’ll get another one for next year.

            In the meantime there’s winning to be done.

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          15th November 2012, 15:42

          Let’s look at this statistically. We can say that the McLaren in general has been a reliable car and we can be extremely conservative and say that the cars have a 30% chance of a mechanical problem.

          What are the chances then that Hamilton’s car would have a failure 5 times in succession?

          If I’m correct the chances are 0.3*0.3*0.3*0.3*0.3 which is 0.25% meaning it should happen 25 times out of 1,000 given a 30% chance of mechanical failure.

          Now let’s also take into account that Jenson has had 5 incident free races which is also unlikely (0.7^5).

          Now let’s also add the chances that Hamilton would have non-stop consecutive failures AFTER the announcement to leave McLaren. Would you say that’s a 5% chance?

          If you add all these strange results you are going to come up with 1 out 10,000 or 1 out of 100,000.

          That’s assuming a really high 30% chance of mechanical failure – if we bring it down to 20% or 15% then you’re getting to 1 out of a million.

          If my calculations are wrong, please let me know. It’s been a LOOOONG time since I did any statistical analysis.

          Hopefully, we have an actuary who can shed some light into the odds of all the mechanical failures that Hamilton has had compared to Button’s incident-free (or am I wrong?) races since the announcement.

          I think when you talk 1 out of 100,000, I think we are beyond reasonable doubt, right? I believe that simply based on the odds, Hamilton could sue McLaren for negligence and win in a court.

    2. Hahaha … you’re absolutely right!

      I definitely don’t think there’s any sabotage from McLaren going on, but no matter why it’s happening, it’s happening, and it really sucks for Lewis.

      One thing I did consider (although it’s even more far-fetched and absurd than McLaren breaking their own car intentionally) is that Bernie somehow rigged Lewis’ car to break down just because he loves Vettel so much! :-D

    3. Ha! Very true :P

  2. oh dear. .i may be a non believer but this is the right time to pray for HAM’s car for the last 2 races

  3. I think its good no to be overly cautious here, after all, what can they lose from not scoring with both cars? And if it does work out, they still have a realistic chance of getting 2nd in the WCC.

    1. @bascb
      they can lose a place to lotus in the WCC. so they could end up 4th, after having had the best chances to clinch the constructors title this year. but that’s just the way mclaren rolls these days.

      1. @andrewf1 @bascb You can rely on good ol’ McLaren to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

        1. Ah, yes. True enough @andrewtanner, @andrewf1, the team really has a knack for losing even with all the cards stacked in their favour lately!

  4. Well, I think they should. To finish first, first you have to finish.

    1. Now who used to say that all the time?

      1. Ron Dennis dislikes these comments hahaha.

  5. It’s the right approach. It seems the 2013 regs are so similar to this year that any performance gains made even in this late stage of the season can be applied to next year’s car. McLaren are out of the running in both Championships, why not test out as many new and radical ideas on this year’s car while they can, as Ferrari did to some extent at the tail end of last year? Throw caution to the wind!
    Worst case scenario they lose a couple of podiums or a win, best case is they have a better platform to use when developing the car over the winter.

    1. if that is really what Mclaren are doing… it may make sense but it doesn’t reduce the pain I have in seeing Lewis (or Jenson) alternating retirement every race

      1. I imagine it doesn’t! But maybe this short term pain may make a long term gain.

  6. McLaren are used to it.
    How many WDC’s would Kimi have had without the McLaren factor.

    1. 2. He would’ve won 2005, but not 2003… 2003 was more Mclaren capitalising as much as they could on Ferrari’s ‘bad’ car. Ferrari still won the championship out on the track…

  7. Achilles Last Stand
    15th November 2012, 12:54

    McLaren & Whitmarsh need to cut the crap talk & get on with the job in hand. Martin in particular has a foot in mouth problem.

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