There’s a strong whiff of revolution in the air at McLaren, as racing CEO Zak Brown sets about remoulding the organisation in his attempts to make McLaren great again. But in a stark admission, Brown has revealed that the team’s current MCL33 has a fundamental weakness which means it’s not as strong a chassis as the MCL32 it replaced.
Many believed that McLaren’s switch from Honda to Renault power for 2018 – which sees them running the same power unit as Red Bull, three-time winners so far this season – would finally unlock the talents the team believed were hidden in their chassis, but which had been masked by a basic lack of grunt. Indeed, McLaren even predicted at the end of last season that they would outclass Red Bull at certain circuits on the calendar this year.
The constructors’ standings so far tell a different story, however, with McLaren holding just 48 points ahead of the German Grand Prix, compared to Red Bull’s 199 – and Renault’s 70, for that matter. Renault also hold the prized fourth place in the championship too, marking them as the highest performing midfield team, with McLaren down in seventh. So what’s gone wrong?
“I’m not going to get too technical,” said Brown, “but we don’t have the same level of downforce that we had last year. We have identified an area in which our car is weaker than last year’s car.
“Did we have the best chassis last year? No, definitely not. Did we have probably a better chassis? I think because of all the different variables, it would be hard to definitively say yes or no, but we know we have less downforce this year than last year.”