McLaren F1 Team‘s CEO Zak Brown says the team will need to ‘get back to basics’ for the 2019 Formula 1 Season after reflecting on a difficult 2018 season.
The Woking based team ended the season sixth overall in the constructors’ championship, but it was deemed a challenging year for McLaren with a tough end to the year for Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.
McLaren’s first year under Renault-powered engines saw them make an improvement from the 2017 season, where they ended the year ninth with Honda. But the team struggled in the final third of the season, only scoring four points in the final six races of the year.
The year also saw a lot of changes behind the scenes with Eric Boullier and Tim Goss departing from the team and saw the arrival of Gil de Ferran, Pat Fry and James Key as the team aims to re-build.
Brown said on McLaren’s website as he reflects on what has been a ‘difficult year’ for the Woking based team, admitting the season was a step forward from their final year with Honda in 2017 but not the season of performance McLaren were expecting.
“2018 was a difficult year, but one where we’ve implemented a lot of change,” said Brown. “We’ve learned a lot, we understand the mistakes we’ve made, and we’ve worked hard to make sure we don’t replicate those moving forward.
“We did finish sixth in the championship, so on paper it was a step forward from 2017, but it certainly wasn’t a season of the calibre that anyone at McLaren or our fans would have expected.
The driver line-up at McLaren will also see a change. Vandoorne joins ABB FIA Formula E whilst Alonso calls time on his F1 career, as he aims to complete the ‘Triple Crown’. Alonso will remain part of the McLaren family as he will compete with McLaren Racing as an entry for the 2019 Indianapolis 500.
Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris will join the team for 2019, starting a brand new era at McLaren filled with a mixed of experienced and youth to the team.
Brown says the team have a good understanding on what they need to do to improve their car so the team can return to winning races in the future.
“We have a good understanding of what we need to do to improve our race car. The changes we’ve made over the last five or six months, both in our structure and leadership, are already in play and beginning to take effect,” Brown added.
“We need to get back to the basics, come out with a stronger car next year, and continue on the rebuilding journey to get us back to winning races. 2019 should be another step forward in that direction.”
Next year will see British F1 designer Key join McLaren from Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, but he will not have a influence role with the design of the MCL34. He’ll help the team progress over the season before he sets to work on his first McLaren car, the MCL35. Brown is excited to have Key’s services at the team next year.
“It’s still a work in progress to complete the leadership structure for our Formula 1 business. However, I’m excited that James will be starting in time not to influence the 2019 car on its debut, but certainly to help its progression over the course of the season, and most importantly have him be the ‘father’ of the MCL35.
“We’re also excited about our driver pairing for next year. I think Carlos and Lando will be great not only for McLaren, but for the sport. I can already feel the anticipation to see McLaren on the grid with two new drivers.”