Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Suzuka, 2018

McLaren admits its Suzuka tyre selection was “wrong”

2018 Japanese Grand Prix

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McLaren has admitted its unusual selection of tyres for the Japanese Grand Prix was a mistake but insisted it was a deliberate choice.

The team selected four sets of medium tyres for each car – twice as many as any other team – and the same number of super-softs, the fewest of any team.

Sporting director Gil de Ferran explained the reasons behind their choice in response to a question from RaceFans.

“There was a general understanding that our car was working better with harder compounds,” he said. “Particularly on this type of track with very high Gs and a lot of sequences of corners [we thought] it would be a more suitable choice.

“I think quite frankly as it transpires we got it wrong. We’ve been spending the whole weekend trying to deal with a non-optimal choice that we’ve made. And that’s all there is to it really.”

However de Ferran rejected claims McLaren had failed to submit it selection in time and had therefore been assigned its tyre quantities by Pirelli.

“It was a deliberate selection,” he insisted. “It was not – I read something in the press – that we forgot maybe the choice and therefore got a default choice from Pirelli, that’s not true.”

The team’s tyre choice meant they did not run the super-soft tyres before qualifying began. They qualified 18th and 19th with only Marcus Ericsson, who crashed his Sauber, behind them.

However Stoffel Vandoorne does not believe their selection compromised their preparation for qualifying. “I don’t think it changes the result today dramatically,” he said.

“Maybe it was not the perfect build-up towards the qualifying session but with the performance we’ve had this event I don’t think it actually would have changed the outcome. With the amount of tyres we have available for tomorrow if for some reason it’s very hot and the blistering starts to become apparent than maybe it’s a good thing.”

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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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  • 20 comments on “McLaren admits its Suzuka tyre selection was “wrong””

    1. I guess Mckaren thought removing the “MP4” from their chairs name will make the car lighter and faster.

      1. Mclaren and Chassis I meant.

    2. It is a odd selection. And it does look like they forgot to make one. I guess only Pirrelli can confirm it, and surely if it is true they won’t

      1. No, I don’t think the default selection would be that bad. Only McLaren could come up with such allocation.

    3. Johan Tolemans
      6th October 2018, 11:43

      I love how Vandoorne sees the humor in it. He’s an inch away from saying “yeah we’re not going well as an F1 unit but should for some reason the race turn into a stand-up comedy contest we’ll be on the podium”
      Following the muppet show at McLaren and Seb the red clown will be the only reason to follow the rest of the season.

    4. They are absolutely nowhere, it is painful to watch! At that rhythm next time they will qualify behind the crashed cars. They may aswell try without tires.

    5. Mclaren… sounds more and more like Minardi..
      Backmarker but at least they got some sympathy, something McL totally misses.

    6. And they kept putting all the blame in Honda since 2015

    7. Alonso dragging that thing around weekend after weekend is the only positive coverage McLaren have had all season… If we thought this year was bad, just wait until the next. It’s going to be a bloodbath.

    8. I have a strong feeling that if in the next major regulation shake up in 2021 Mclaren are still in this position, their going to pull out of F1.
      I dont think the team has ever been in such a position during its entire f1 history…

    9. Not surprised. It seemed like a daft decision right from the start. At least they owned up to this brainfart of a decision

      1. Agreee. And keeping things in perspective, it really doesn’t matter as getting any points Sunday is out of the question unless something very unusual happens.
        Ferrar’s boo boo is a different story.

    10. McLaren’s form is going from bad to worse, being practically the slowest car in the field. All this while the Torro Rosso guys (who are still rookies on this track) qualified 6th and 7th with their new-spec Honda engine. This must be very painful for McLaren and for their fans…

    11. McLaren seem determined to turn their Formula 1 involvement into some experimental art form.

      1. Lol. Sums it up perfectly!

    12. Tyre selection is the least of their worries (and seemingly they can’t even get that right now!). McLaren officially the slowest car out there in Suzuka, behind even the Williams’ now. A sad way for Alonso to end his F1 career, he probably can’t wait to be driving something competitive in 2019.

      As for McLaren, bottom of the timesheets and now committed to Renault engines for the next few years, which appear to be the worst performing on the grid, where can they go from here? Is this rock bottom or can it get worse?

    13. I thought they’d made the weird selection as a testing decision (I said the same about their selection a few races ago… Spa maybe), so they could run each tyre a lot and try new bits because they’d essentially given up on 2018…

    14. The absolute supreme humiliation they could suffer was to be dead last on Honda’s home race while Honda, with a midfield team, got to Q3.

      Red Bull Honda will be a succesfull combination and they can only watch, while obeying blue flags, next year.

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