Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Red Bull Ring, 2018

McLaren admits it has a “big performance issue”

2018 F1 season

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McLaren has admitted it still has a serious performance deficit in Formula 1 despite its change of power unit supplier for this season.

The team fell to sixth place in the constructors’ championship last weekend. This is three places higher than it finished last season, but expectations were much higher following its split from engine supplier Honda, which it repeatedly blamed for their cars’ under-performance.

Driver Fernando Alonso has repeatedly defended the team’s performance, pointing out its improved results compared to last year and blaming the media for negative coverage of the team. However following the resignation of racing director Eric Boullier, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown admitted they are under-performing.

“Obviously our results this year have demonstrated we have a big performance issue,” Brown told media including RaceFans. “We are punching well below our weight given the history, the talented people, the resources, the technology at our disposal.”

McLaren has gone over five years without winning a race in Formula 1. Brown says the team needs stability to address its long-running under-performance.

“This comes from a culmination of being destabilised over many years within our team. If you look at our past seven, eight years we’ve had different CEOs, different shareholders. Shareholders in, shareholders out, CEOs in, CEOs out and [we] have really failed to get on a stable footing to be able to rebuild this great team.

“Which is now what we’re going to do. We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and we’re now taking measures to rebuild McLaren to make us a great winning organisation again.”

McLaren cannot be satisfied with the progress it has made this year, Brown added.

“We have improved over last year. We have more points this year than we had all of last season.

“So while it is unsatisfactory, at our race pace we are improving. We have more commercial partners, this year than we had last year, so we are improving.

“However we are not in a good enough place and expect to be much better.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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35 comments on “McLaren admits it has a “big performance issue””

  1. About time. The 1st thing to do to get over a problem is admitting you have a problem. For 5 years McLaren have tried every excuse and lie but in the end they have to admit they are rubbish as things stand.

    1. Obviously. But I can’t understad how this fixes anything. If the problem is that you need more stability, how does firing the captain of the ship help? The only thing we know for sure now about the immediate future of Mc is that it is going to be quite unstable.

      1. I get the impression that the problem really starts with Zak and it doesn’t look like he wants to go anywhere. Am expecting more changes and “fixes” that prove unfruitful until he is removed. He’s a guy that says all the right things, I just haven’t seen any sign that he can inspire and unite the team, to create an atmosphere in which a great car can be built. I’m happy to be wrong, but I can’t see much improvement until Zak gets the sack..

    2. The first step to fixing a problem is to know how what you’re trying to fix should work. If you don’t know how it’s supposed to work then you can’t be sure that what remedial action you take will be effective or not, in fact your remedial action may make the situation worse.

  2. McLaren […] still has a serious performance deficit in Formula 1

    Well doesn’t that just take the biscuit?

    1. you mean the freddo?

      1. @johnmilk
        You always know what to say <3

        1. It is as much of a blessing as it a curse. Nice to be appreciated every once in a while

  3. I firmly believe McLaren’s issues are the result of getting a late start with the 2018 chassis due to the delayed parting of ways with Honda. But this has to be looked at as a a step in the right direction.

    Although this can be looked at as a positive step that had to be made, it isn’t Eric’s fault – he will land with another team in F1 and be successful. Of course the pundits will not be satisfied enough and will call for Zak’s head even though he was hired for Marketing and was only recently given the additional position of Directer of Racing.

    The true cause of McLaren’s issues of course can be traced to Ron. Not that he should be faulted because he thought it was in the best interests of McLaren to join forces with Honda. But a recent article by Barnard claimed he (Barnard) voiced concerns to Ron was about his (Ron) neglecting the F1 portion of McLaren.

    There are many who will be critical of this action and I suppose – some due to trepidation Zak will turn things around and McLaren will be competitive once again. I hope this marks the beginning of a return to McLaren being a front runner and not a mid field team. It will be good for F1.

    1. Nina The same applies to Toro Rosso as well.

    2. it isn’t Eric’s fault – he will land with another team in F1 and be successful.

      Sorry, successful like with Lotus (people seem to forget how they couldn’t pay not only their tech personnel, they couldn’t pay their drivers) or like with Macca these days? I wouldn’t put all the responsibility on him but I can’t say he’s doing his job good.

      1. Did Kimi ever get paid for that gig with Lotus? I seem to recall some legal action going on a while back.

        1. Renault cleared all the bills when they bought Lotus out. To be fair not sure if that included the drivers, but I would imagine so.

  4. Considering all the money they lost in switching to Renault and the current performance, whoever takes responsability for the move must be very creative to make good arguments in front of the shareholders who are not only losing money but seeing their chances of it returning in a reasonable time disappearing!

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    4th July 2018, 13:57

    I think Zak’s doing the right thing – he has to send a message to the company that McLaren are not producing the results that they should be producing. Even Haas was able to get a P4 and P5 this weekend and Red Bull have won races and podiums galore with the same engine.

    McLaren should be fighting with the Red Bulls – period! We know that Alonso is every bit as good as the Red Bull drivers and the fight should be on.

    I’m pretty sure that Alonso would have signed a 3 year deal with McLaren already if his car was between Max’s and Daniel’s in the races and all these races would have been much more fun to watch for all of us.

    I think the racing division of the company needs to re-invent itself. I think the F1 division needs to become more of a technology firm and embrace a more friendly and relaxed work atmosphere to promote cooperation between the teams.

  6. Boullier has been poor from the moment he stepped through the door on his first day. In his 4 and a half years not once did he oversee an even half competitive car. His main problem though was that he didn’t talk the right game, over-hyped and under-delivered.

    1. “In his 4 and a half years not once did he oversee an even half competitive car.” But car design was not his responsibility. The people who made this poor car are still in place – except Tim Goss.

  7. JungleMartin
    4th July 2018, 14:23

    “… we are improving… we are improving.” I keep repeating it, so it must be true.

  8. The problem is our engine
    The problem was our sporting director
    The problem was that we are going through a re-structuring phase
    The problem is that we needs works team status to win
    The problem is our engine

    Some say when you enter wooking, you can hear whispers echoing…Rooonnnn…Roonnn…Roonnn….Maaaaartin…Maaaartin….5 years Zak…..5 years……take off that Kimoa hat Zak…..uuuhhhh….the best….the best…..the best chassis Zak

    1. You mean the Roooonnnn that caused this travesty in the first place?

      1. He was bad wasn’t he?

        1. But this ron too might return with dumbledore’s deluminator and prove himself useful yet

          1. This ron is much more capable than other one!

  9. @johnmilk from all the comments and sarcasm I read I can’t understand if Ron Dennis and Martin Withmarsh are seen as a good or bad legacy for McLaren, can you help me with this?

    1. @m-bagattini unfortunately you would find it to be both

      As legacy goes, Ron Dennis surely has a good one, look at the things he achieved there, he made McLaren

      Martin, I always found him to be very composed, probably too good for F1, he didn’t achieved much at McLaren, however the last time McLaren was competitive it was with him at the helm.

      Hope that helps

    2. @m-bagattini

      Pre-Ron: A handful of wins, 2 WDCs, 1 WCC.

      Ron Era: Hundreds of wins, 8 WDCs, 7 WCCs.

      Whitmarsh Era: A handful of wins, no WDCs, no WCC’s, prospects of success.

      Zak Era: No Wins, no WDCs, no WCC’s, no prospect of any success anytime soon.

      Ron’s legacy is a great thing for McLaren, Whitmarsh’s is debateable, Zak’s is looking like it isn’t going to amount to much.

      1. @geemac

        2 WDCs

        Hunt and….Fittipaldi?

        1. yeah, 76 and 74.
          Ron is without a doubt the most important name for the team after Bruce Mclaren.
          Without him, Mclaren would’ve folded like a lot of teams did in the beginning of the 80s, completely unable to conceive efficient machines using the ground effect concept.

      2. @geemac It’s easy to forget how Ron Dennis’s ruthless focus and perfectionism drive McLaren to incredible success. The issues have arisen (as Dieter and others have commented) in firstly Ron’s and then the organisations focus drifting away from F1. It’s a good case study in succession planning (was supposed to be Whitmarsh) and how organisational structure and politics can manifest in performance.

        I hope the McLaren F1 team climb the steep upward curve to recovery, I have read rumours from another Pitlane journalist that the IndyCar entry will be binned for now which is the right decision for where the organisation is, entering other series can wait for now.

      3. Didnt Lewis win his WDC under the Whitmarsh who was brought in to appease Max Moseley who had it in for Ron?

  10. They’ve put Honda on so much crap that having a good performace this year to prove that everything that went wrong on the past 3 seasons was Honda’s fault was fundamental. A matter of pride in their own work and institution.

    Now, with Honda performing considerably better with another team and they massively underperforming compared to their target (Red Bull) on the same engine, they failed badly to prove everything they said.

  11. YellowSubmarine
    5th July 2018, 6:38

    Jenson Button, October 2012: “Lewis Hamilton has made a mistake leaving McLaren for Mercedes.”


    1. Its very easy to laugh at someone’s opinion written so many years ago, when you are viewing facts so many years ago.

      1. Remember, Lewis at that point was already years from championship win. He knew he had to change ships…

  12. How can McLaren have such massive wind tunnel correlation issues? They use Toyota wind tunnel like man other teams, why the issues?

    The question that comes to mind is… How long in Honda era was this a problem? They seem as competitive as they were before in Honda years.

    And always slowest down the straights…

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