James Key assessed McLaren’s performance throughout the year, offering an accurate example of the learning process the team has gone through at the beginning of 2019. The Briton joined McLaren back in March, hence the original project of the MCL34 did not come out of his pen.
The massive turnaround McLaren experienced at Paul Ricard was the result of a thorough and smart understanding of the up dates brought to the previous round in Barcelona.
“If we look at the first four [races] before Spain, that was a good example of strengths and weaknesses. China was pretty poor for us, the race pace was OK but we had to compromise in the race a bit. Azerbaijan was much better, so you had that little bit of variability, but we had a weakness, which was addressed with a fairly reasonable package of updates in Spain”.
“I would say that did not show itself as it could have done in Barcelona, as we introduced a load of new stuff, we had to learn it and optimize the car around it. I think by the time we got to Paul Ricard, we added more developments to the car and we tuned the set-up to our approach”.
“It’s a learning process, equally I think although Paul Ricard has a similar layout (to Spain), there are aspects of that track that suited our car better and that just allowed us to extend that set-up directions” he added.
As for long-term plans, Key hails the support McLaren is receiving from the shareholders in terms of goals, funds and facilities. An all-new wind tunnel for the Woking-based team is currently under construction, as Key hopes it will be ‘up and running in 2021’. The Briton conceded McLaren is far behind compared to other F1 teams, but he is confident the team can turn things around and be in a favourable position to fight for the top in the next three years.
About the 2021 regulations, Key points out that having them approved by the end of October allowed the teams to ‘know the direction’ to follow and embraces the change F1 has been longing for years.
“It is positive that the regs have been agreed, so at least everyone knows the direction. It is a great opportunity for the sport to address some of the things we’ve been talking about for years”.