McLaren have for the first time in 2013 acknowledged that their focus is shifting towards developing next year’s car for the radical new regulation package that will include turbo charged engines and only 100 litres of fuel available for the race distance.
Speaking to the assembled media, including Crash.net, Martin Whitmarsh acknowledged the difficulties that the team has faced this season and how taking a realistic approach to their situation has seen them start to focus on next year’s car:
“Every now and then there is a glimmer of hope and performance which makes it difficult for the drivers and engineers,” said McLaren’s team pricipal. “We’re throwing a lot of different ideas at the issues at the moment but not getting the improvements. The drivers don’t have a car which is consistent in it’s setup and consistent when they are driving it on the track so it’s very challenging for us.
“We are at a point now where we have to ensure that we are in a competitive situation next season so we are now, quite frankly, earlier than usual putting a lot of our resources into next years programme. We need to do this because of the changes next year and also we need to be realistic about what is achievable. We are still racers so there’s no give up in the race team and we’ll do everything we can to race as well as we can but we have to be realistic on what our priorities are.”
It’s a difficult situation for both drivers, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, to face but both racers are positive that the short term pain will net a long terms gain. When asked for his view on not being able to challenge for race wins this season Button said:
“Every driver wants to win races,” said the 2009 world champion. “I think at McLaren we’ve always won races but this year is a lot more difficult because of where we started the season. We’ve improved our understanding and will still develop the car but I think it’s great we have more people working on next year’s car. We want to win Grand Prix because it’s a very special experience and it’s an emotional moment but our main aim is win the world championship and that’s not something we can do this year.”
Having won a world title with Brawn and challenged for the championship since joining McLaren this has been a tough year for Button but with Sergio Perez having joined from Sauber it must have been a surprise for the Mexican to be struggling in the midfield pack once again.
When asked for his thoughts on the change of philosophy Perez said:
“I think F1 has changed a lot since I signed for McLaren,” admitted Perez. “Jenson won the last race of 2012 and now we are not so quick but I know we have very strong people and a strong team to develop the car. I know that we will have success but success isn’t winning a few races it’s fighting for a championship.”