McLaren MCL34, 2019

“We got that wrong”: Brown says McLaren expected too much from first year with Renault

2019 F1 season

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McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown admits the team set its sights too high for its first year with Renault power last season and intends to deliver a “big step forward” in 2019.

Speaking at the launch of the MCL34, the team’s second Renault-powered car, Brown said the team was too optimistic about how quickly its performance would improve after splitting from Honda.

“Obviously when we made the change last year I think we were probably a little bit over-excited about how quickly we would return to the front,” he said. “And we got that wrong.

“So we’ve looked in the mirror to understand where we went wrong. We’ve made a lot of changes as all of you know both structurally, operationally – some new people – and so this is a very important year to show forward progress.”

A key weakness of last year’s car was its aerodynamic performance. The team’s sporting director Gil de Ferran said the changes to the aerodynamic rules for the 2019 F1 season made it harder to track their progress from year to year.

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“There’s been a lot of effort by our engineers to to try to understand the shortcomings of the car being them aerodynamic or something else,” said de Ferran in response to a question from RaceFans. “And we did the best we could to address them.

“Certainly this year there’s been a new set of aerodynamic regulations. Interestingly enough they seem relatively small but their effect on the development of the car has been quite large. So in a way actually you lose a bit of a reference point that you would have had, had the regulations been stable.

“And so it it’s hard to know exactly how well you’re gonna do relative to everyone else but I think we worked hard in trying to understand some of the fundamental dynamics behind some of some of the issues and did our best to try and improve them.”

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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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  • 22 comments on ““We got that wrong”: Brown says McLaren expected too much from first year with Renault”

    1. I always have patience for teams or drivers in their first seasons of a marriage, so I can’t say I was surprised at how they struggled last year, but do expect them to improve greatly this season.

      Firsts this year that I’ll have patience for…RBR with Honda, Gasly with RBR, Leclerc with Ferrari, Kubica with Williams. With Stroll, even though this is his first year on the team, I think he should have such a better car that I expect little appearance of teething problems and rather much better performance straight away. I suspect Kimi shouldn’t have much trouble adapting to the Alfa Romeo either. Even Gasly and Leclerc will both be so stoked to be in the best cars they’ve ever had, that they might impress, however, they are also starting off on their hind feet as newbies on the team alongside very strong teammates, so patience may be in order for them, at least for the first half of the season.

    2. Pecking order prediction for the year:
      Merc (Lewis to be the difference)
      Ferrari (Best car, not the best driver)
      Red Bull (Fast, will win, but overall points will be hurt by unreliability)
      Reno (Miles away from top 3, will scrape to 4th thanks to great drivers)
      Racing Point (Better car than reno, but will be hurt by strolls haul)
      Mclaren (Will be better, a competitive midfielder, nowhere near the top 3)
      Alfa Romeo (Battle with Mclaren in a tight midfield)
      Torro Rosso (Car will be good thanks to RB parts, Honda will hurt their overall haul)
      Williams (Better than last year, will compete but sadly cant see who they can beat)

      1. Well I dont agree at all and you are missing a team =D

        1. Yikes, HAAS for a close battle with Racing Point and Mclaren, marginally beaten by both to finish 7th.

          Midfield is going to be epic.

    3. These past 4 years have been full of false claims, and big promises and huge expectations. Eric Bouiller even said they’d win with Renault on their first year…

      Everything is a disappointment if you claim to be the best and it turns out you’re not. It’s time to be humble, and remember there’s a long way ahead. There’s no “get-rich-quick” schemes in F1.

      1. For sure. And at least he is admitting their mistakes of last year, and setting aside all the rhetoric from their time with Honda, nobody including Honda expected it to go as terribly as it did. That threw everyone a massive curve ball. And Honda still has everything to prove.

      2. No, he did not say that. They also never said they had the best chassis. Stop propagating these myths.

        1. Does it really matter what they said (and yes they did say “one of the best cars”), AFAIK they were the biggest disappointment in 2018 and notwithstanding the many claims of seeing the light and knowing what to do, they have not shown any improvements.
          I think they should keep quiet and show us what they can do on track.

          I am sure that they will deliver a great car one day (maybe in 2019). The big doubt I have though, is if they will have the drivers to match a great car.

          1. What they really should do, is put a mop in zaks hand, then change all the social media passwords…

            1. Love it… ;-)

          2. Though if they end up with a good car and subpar drivers, that’s gonna be a good scenario for them, once you have a good car you attract top drivers, so far they didn’t really work cause they had one of the best drivers with a car that hasn’t been worthy of mclaren name since 2012.

    4. Who are those two scruffy individuals standing with the drivers?

      Will they either wear a tie or a shirt that doesn’t need one. Please.

      1. Lol hey come on now, their ties might be holding the front wheels up so the drivers can sit on them.

        1. Hahaha…
          Robbie – nice to see you have a sense of humour…

    5. Ron. How are you these days?

    6. There’s been a lot of effort by our engineers to to try to understand the shortcomings of the car being them aerodynamic or something else,” said de Ferran in response to a question from RaceFans. “And we did the best we could to address them.

      Not particularly encouraging.

    7. I would love to have what Zak Brown smokes or drinks.. maybe both… completely not in touch with reality. being the boss you did not know that the car would not perform as expected? every couch engineer and F1 expert knew the car would not perform. besides the engine it was plain to see the car had fundamental design and performance issues. either Mr Brown you are too gullible and or the engineers have fake degrees diplomas etc. because you are all bluffing yourselves. be realistic and say this year we would like to complete every race without a DNF. once reliability is sorted work on performance. I’m a McLaren fan for many years don’t lie to me or the other fans and don’t wishful think. set realistic goals even if the goals are mediocre. have to crawl before you can walk let alone run (slow)…

      1. I understand your frustration but I’m not sure ZB could have said it much differently. He has to be diplomatic, and sound positive about their outlook etc etc. You cite reliability as something they should stress, however given what we know of the Renault pu’s, at least prior to this season, zero dnfs is not something ZB can guarantee. I’m sure they are truthfully trying their best and would rather be in a much better place. The whole Honda debacle really threw them, and last year was year one of a new marriage with Renault, so we should allow that they’ve had major setbacks in the last 5 years which is far from what they expected, and now they are crawling their way back. The good news…they are a ‘have’ team not a ‘have not’ team, so the potential is there. Nobody knows their situation and how much they want and need to do way better, more than them. Internally I am sure they are their own biggest critics and are frustrated and anxious to do better this season.

    8. The Renault in the back of the Red Bull last year seemed to be just fine… McLaren have become a travelling cocktail party. Hubris gets you no where; hard work = results (said Roger Penske). The last time I saw so many new hires with mediocre F1 experience was BAR/Reynard pre-99. Ron will be horrified at the presentation.

      re: new set of aerodynamic regulations. “Interestingly enough they seem relatively small but their effect on the development of the car has been quite large”: what? You mean the front wing that controls the airflow over every surface?

      Depressing really… I’ve never been so disinterested in the start of a new season. Let’s not even mention Formula E.

    9. At least they’re saving a cool 30million that they would have paid Nandini.

      1. Nando and we will miss his entraining quips on the radio

    10. Honda? They got that wrong. ReNo? We got that wrong. Aerodynamics, handling, Stoffel Vandoorne? Wrong wrong wrong.
      But commercially we’re very strong, we have a team of good people, and we have the greatest driver in the world. He’s just not here right now.

    Comments are closed.