Pretty much everybody who expected McLaren to rise above the middle of the pack during the 2018 Formula 1 season must have been disappointed with their performance so far.
On paper, it definitely looked good. These past few years, McLaren had one of the best chassis’ on the grid, and despite their Honda power unit lacking in muscle, the cars performed really well on high-downforce circuits.
So one would think that after switching from Honda to Renault, the car might actually climb all the way up to Red Bull’s level, or at least somewhere close to that. Unfortunately, after nine races, the British outfit has scored just 44 points for the Constructor championship and is in sixth place, behind both Haas as well as Renault’s works team.
What happened then? Well, Autosport reports that new regulations have forced this year’s McLaren-Renault to lose downforce, as stated by the team’s CEO, Zak Brown.
“We don’t have the same level of downforce this year that we had last year. So we have identified an area in which our car this year 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.”
As for when Brown hopes his team might get back to fighting for wins, let’s just say that it’s not going to happen any time soon.
“Realistically, this is going to take some time to fix, so I think we are years away. I don’t know if that’s two or 10 or somewhere in between, probably more like somewhere in between, but I don’t want to get into predictions.”
Even “somewhere in between” sounds pretty bleak to us, so we can only imagine how frustrated Woking’s engineers must feel like – not to mention its drivers…
For this season, the team has yet to give up on finishing fourth in the standings, says Brown. Currently, they trail Renault by 18 points, which is by no means an insurmountable deficit. However, their rivals have been looking a lot better ever since the start of the year, so catching them won’t be easy.