Lando Norris, McLaren, Yas Marina

McLaren learning from Vandoorne’s struggles to get best out of Norris

2019 F1 season

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McLaren will learn from its experience with Stoffel Vandoorne to ensure new recruit Lando Norris gets all the support he needs when he makes his debut for the team in the 2019 F1 season, according to group CEO Zak Brown.

Vandoorne, who joined the team with a strong reputation following his success in junior categories, was following his second full season this year. However Brown said McLaren accepts theymay have failed to get the best out of him.

“We recognise that someone like Stoffel is an extremely good race car driver and for whatever reason it didn’t work out,” said Brown.

“We take some responsibility for that and want to understand why this driver with such a great pedigree didn’t work out. We don’t want to replicate that, where we may have got that wrong or contributed to that lack of success.”

Brown said the appointment of Gil de Ferran was done partly to help improve the performance of the team’s drivers. “One of his many roles is effectively my right-hand man in all things McLaren Racing as sporting director,” said Brown.

“One of the things that I would recognise is I think we need some additional racers in the McLaren family. If you look at Gil’s pedigree first and foremost as a driver, the as an IndyCar team owner, and as a sports car owner, he’s got a well-rounded understanding having won championships with Roger Penske what success looks like from many different aspects including sitting in the cockpit.

“One of [de Ferran’s] primary roles is to make sure that everyone gels including the driver and so he’ll be spending time both with Lando and Carlos [Sainz Jnr] making sure that we give them the best environment to work in.”

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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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  • 27 comments on “McLaren learning from Vandoorne’s struggles to get best out of Norris”

    1. Isn’t it really down to the car and shouldn’t the question rather be about chief executive Brown and how for some reason it didn’t work out, and wouldn’t the most effective solution to this and other issues simply be to get Whitmarsh back.

      1. Surely the car does not explain everything, for the first half of the season he could have scored points more or less consistently.

        Also he got worse in the second year, that’s something that has been overlooked, how did he managed to do this? Alonso didn’t properly unlock any extra potential and yet he got further away from him.

        I think it is a simple case of a promising driver not being able to give the jump, when people last year said that the car was masking his true potential I say otherwise, the car masked his poor adaptation to F1.

        But he isn’t named Lance…

        1. We can’t know, but the theory that the car was tailor made to Alonso’s likings and this cost Vandoorne the few tenths that he was slower than Alonso, is at least as credible than the theory that the driver who won in all categories, including the one just below F1, suddenly couldn’t cope with F1.

          We’ll find in FE I guess. In the first race, he qualified over a second faster than his team mate, the reigning DTM champion.

          1. how are we going to find out on FE? The point is that he didn’t managed to make the jump, surely going to a lower category won’t prove anything even if he succeeds.

            he theory that the car was tailor made to Alonso’s likings and this cost Vandoorne the few tenths that he was slower than Alonso, is at least as credible than the theory that the driver who won in all categories, including the one just below F1, suddenly couldn’t cope with F1.

            His results say otherwise. The car being made to Alonso, you are right, we don’t know, but sounds like excuses, mainly from fans, never heard him complain about it

            1. Did you hear any complaints at all? Complaints of an unreliable Honda engine came from the other side of the garage, Stoffel kept his head down and tried.
              Complaints of a chassis default or a strategic error? Or two sets of a new spec front wing for Alo, while Stoff had to use the old spec? None. Journalists learned these facts from his race engineer who over-spoke, a mechanic who thought it unfair, photographs and journalism.
              It isn’t really in the DNA to shout and boast… unlike some

      2. Bringing Whitmarsh back wouldn’t necessarily be a step forward and most probably a step back actually. Whitmarsh is the one who set up the very messy ‘matrix’ management structure in McLaren which Brown is currently trying to untangle and stabilize, Whitmarsh is also the one who effectively set the team up for failure back in 2013 and the team as a whole suffered from that for a good 3 years, if not more. I don’t think McLaren is keen on bringing him back, and i think they have good reasons to feel tha way

        1. Agree Whitmarsh messed up with the 2013 car that should have been evolutionary instead of revolutionary, but he’s not the tech man as much as a people’s man, and we all know he was the one who managed to entice Red Bull’s head of aerodynamics Dan Fallows over to McLaren, only for the team to lose him once he learned Whitmarsh would not be there, and we can all imagine what would be the effect of that. He also got Honda on board. Who knows what else he would be able to attract to the team in way of people or sponsors.

          The reported discontent at the McLaren staff has surely some root in reality, and even if it was right for Boullier to go, for me Brown is also out of his depth. He hasn’t delivered the promised sponsorship package, and I have no doubt Vandoorne’s issues could have been bettered by the team. I really can’t believe it was all to do with the driver. Maybe the car was all geared towards Alonso, and with lacking parts for the no. 2 car, and even having to run some sort of development program on the side is a big part of the problem.

    2. If you look at Gil’s pedigree first and foremost as a driver, the as an IndyCar team owner, and as a sports car owner, he’s got a well-rounded understanding having won championships with Roger Penske what success looks like from many different aspects including sitting in the cockpit.

      With all due respect to Gil’s experience, achievements and admiration for the skills involved in indycar, we are talking two different breeds of cars and maybe drivers. So is really Gil de Ferran the right choice for that role? No other team felt the need to have a former driver in that position.

      And being a sports cars owner helps or is that just a typo and there are some words missing?

    3. Jan Magnusson
      Heikki Kovaleinen
      Sergio Perez
      Kevin Magnusson
      Stoffel van Doorne

      1. Jan Magnusson – Antithesis of a Ron driver
        Heikki Kovaleinen – was never given a fair whack, the word fuel correction comes to mind
        Sergio Perez – too young
        Kevin Magnusson – wrong place wrong time
        Stoffel van Doorne – Mr Nice Guy

    4. Elephant in the room this one. Pretty much no driver on the grid had Alonso’s grit. Lewis, as good as he is, would not push, on track anyway, as much as Freddie has in a lemon. There’s a very valid argument that you win off the track as much as you win on it but that’s not what we are talking about. To suggest Stoffel went backwards is just suggesting human beings go backwards. Alonso pretty much fought every corner, every metre for his whole career. Stoffel couldn’t, nor could most.

      McLaren can summon the ghosts of Fangio & Clark but until the car is quick, they are doing that stuff in the wind that makes your trousers wet.

      1. I’d love to see Lewis in an absolute lemon..just to see how he reacts.

        1. He was, the 2010 or was it 2011 McLaren with its octopus exhaust was qualifying 16th/17th at the start of the season. It was winning by the end

          1. That’s only because McLaren were slow in realising the benefits of out washing air using.the front wing end plates (what they are trying to ban now). As soon as they started utilising the end plates the McLaren was competitive.

    5. It is a great shame talent like Vandoorne is leaving F1 and I hate to see him go. But the truth remains that he did not really deliver…

      1. @gpfacts

        Let’s see if he can redeem himself in FE… kind of like how JEV and Di grassi have. Vandoorne did have an impressive qualifying in his debut FE race but it all went wrong for him on raceday.

        1. @todfod apparently they discovered a problem with the power delivery after the race which explains the deficit, as he stated on twitter. So I think he can do pretty well this year in a competitive machinery.

    6. Seems obvious that not having the team constructed and focused around his team-mate (and that team-mate being a journeyman, not an all-time great) will help Norris look better.

    7. When Renault unleash the beast of a new engine and McLaren remember how to put a car together then they’ll be fighting Mercedes for the top step and Sainz will deliver them the trophy! It’s gonna happen, sure as sunrise. Just give them time.

      1. If it happens too soon though, Alonso will be back to reclaim his seat, and given Zak Brown’s worship of him, I can see him giving it to him mid-season.

      2. :) Love the optimism

      3. I’m wondering what’s a bigger ask… Mclaren putting together a stellar car or Renault getting their act together.

        1. Love it COTD material.

    8. I wonder if they used their experience of what went wrong with Kmag and then applied that same for Vandoorne. Now they will apply what went wrong with Vandoorne and apply it on Norris. Eventually, they’ll see what went wrong with Norris and apply it on the next driver’s career they are set to ruin.

      McLaren Racing just seems like one large unsuccessful science experiment to me.

    9. On a side note.. just look at the image of the Mclaren at the start of the article. The left sidepod has a manufacturing defect and doesn’t align perfectly with the chassis to create a streamlined air intake.

      1. If money was no barrier, who would you rather buy a high performance car from: McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari or Honda? (Or Renault)

        1. Honestly, I’d look at Ferrari and Mclaren as first options. Why?

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