Heavily revised McLaren on the way 21 May 2004
McLarens technical director Adrian Newey has confirmed that a dramatically modified version of the teams MP4-19 machine is being built and that it could test in as little as two weeks time.
McLaren have struggled for pace and reliability with the MP4-19 and have scored just five points from the first five races of 2004, putting them a lowly fifth in the constructors championship heading into Sundays Monaco Grand Prix.
Newey said that the B version of the car, which will feature a revised monocoque, is now being constructed and that it should provide a significant performance gain over its predecessor.
Its an updated car so virtually all the mechanical parts are the same but from the bodywork perspective its heavily updated and that involves some changes to the monocoque shape, which means that we have to re-crash test, said Newey. Thats done, signed off, so were building the car at the moment.
In terms of when it will be out, we expect somewhere between two weeks and four weeks; obviously it is all depending on the race bits, and maybe a 50km shakedown at three weeks if we dont make the two-week schedule. In terms of lap time benefit then simulation says it should be significant but I would rather not go further than that at the moment.
Newey went on to add that he had every faith in engine partners Mercedes, despite the recent reliability issues: Yes, we have had a few engine embarrassments lately but I think most of these things, when you have problems, tend to go back to the structure and management of the company.
Equally, that means that when it starts to become recognisable that there is a problem it can take a while to sort out and, of course, the larger a company is, someone like Mercedes, more inertia tends to be associated with that.
But the problems have been recognised, there have been some large changes made, and I think they are very good changes. Martin Whitmarsh is now personally heavily involved in the engine programme and he is doing a very good turn-around, and I am very confident for the future.
But these things do take time and I would hope we will see steady improvements on the engine side through the balance of this year and with the target of getting up towards the benchmark, I would say, probably not necessarily next year but certainly by the 2006 season when I hope we are right up there with everybody else.
McLaren last won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2002 when David Coulthard took victory from Michael Schumacher by just over a second.