McLaren confident of competitive 2014
4 September 2013 – Sam Michael believes McLaren will be able to return to race-winning form next season, insisting the outfit has learned valuable lessons from the fundamental engineering mistakes that saw it drop off the lead pace in 2013.
Having ended the 2012 campaign possessing what was generally accepted to be the fastest car, the Woking-based squad has found itself unable to reach the podium positions this year, with Jenson Button's fifth-place finish at the Chinese Grand Prix representing its best result. In light of the performance disparity, Sporting Director Michael acknowledged that the wrong route was taken during winter development, but brushed aside any suggestions that the same mistakes will be repeated.
"With this year’s car we took too many risks compared to what we had to, particularly as we were winning Grands Prix at the end of last year," said Michael during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "We know we made a mistake and we’ve had many an engineering discussion about that, [but] we know what we’re doing going forward.
"The team of guys that designed this car are the same team that designed winning cars previously – they’re all the same designers, engineers and technicians so I’ve got every confidence that they can do the same again next year."
Looking ahead to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Michael made clear that any shift of resources to the 2014 challenger would still be beneficial for the closing phase of the current campaign, with a podium finish remaining the ultimate target.
"Monza should be good for us, but it will be difficult to score a podium on merit, particularly as we start to concentrate a lot on the 2014 car," he said. "Although we’re still bringing parts to the 2013 car, they’re not the normal developments you’d bring when you’re pushing in a performance race against other teams; they’re parts that are results of studies for 2014.
"They can still be quite effective, but they’re less known in terms of looking forward three or four races knowing what’s coming. So to predict where a podium might come is quite tricky, but we’ll keep pushing until the very last race to try to make that happen."
McLaren sits fifth in the Teams' standings, 122 points behind fourth-placed Lotus.