McLaren: 2013 Flop of the Year
22 December, 2013
At the end of 2012 McLaren decided to bin their impressive MP4-27 which had won the last two races of the year. The team then proceeded to build the MP4-28, essentially from scratch and thereafter persist with it when clearly it was a miserable piece of kit. Quite simply put, whomever was responsible for those decisions should have been dismissed.
Harsh perhaps, but that is the reality of the enormity of the team’s failings in 2013. Had it been McLaren Football Club the manager would have been long gone, and his backroom staff too…
Jenson Button should have known better when he predicted after Jerez testing, “This year’s car is the best we’ve ever made – I know the engineers have left absolutely no stone unturned in wringing every ounce of performance from every available area.”
A month later he trumpeted, “In terms of the car itself – the MP4-28 – it’s very good. We have had a few issues which have set us back a little bit, but I feel that the car in Melbourne will be strong.”
How wrong he was. He must thus shoulder some of the blame for making all the wrong noises, encouraging his team to persevere with a car that never looked anything like it’s predecessor, or even came close for that matter.
Perhaps unrelated to their slump, they also lost Paddy Lowe to Mercedes. Thus Sam Michael, whose effectiveness is questioned by some paddock insiders, inherited more power within the Woking outfit. Sources at the team have revealed (off the record) that Michael’s abrasive attitude did not help McLaren in their attempt to keep Lewis Hamilton from moving to Mercedes. The 2008 World Champion was also no fan of the Australian.
Famously, Michael had Hamilton physically removed from the McLaren garage, when their former driver came in to greet his ex-colleagues, at the start of testing in Jerez.
With McLaren F1 team management under pressure to perform and in the end not delivering, they found themselves a scapegoat in Sergio Perez, whom they sent packing despite the Mexican actually doing relatively well for the team at a time when they provided him (and Button) with abysmal tools to do their jobs.
And adding insult to injury they grovelled apologetically for firing Perez, while triumphantly heralding the arrival of Kevin Magnussen, as if this unknown quantity is to be their saviour. It all stank of a huge cover-up by those who should really have been axed – the senior managers.
Little wonder then that Ron Dennis is ‘upset’ with those who currently run the team which he built. Good on him if he sweeps clean the rot that has set in and takes over, because they can ill afford another year of wretched midfield struggles ahead of their reunification with Honda in 2015.
McLaren seem to have forgotten that they are like Ferrari, an iconic Formula 1 racing team with a huge and proud history in the sport. They have a huge following of dedicated fans and a legacy of note. For these reasons alone they have a responsibility to deliver at the very highest level, all of the time. That Force India at one stage considered them a target in the Championship battle, borders on sacrilege and speaks only too loudly of the Woking outfit’s failings.
No doubt, 2013 was a flop for McLaren. They know it, their fans know it and we know it too.
Subbed by AJN.