McLaren’s Racing Director Eric Boullier has conceded that the team’s lack of pace in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang last weekend ‘may not be temporary’ as was initially thought.
The MP4/29, which had performed so well in Australia to take a double podium with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen behind the wheel slumped to 6th and 9th places in Sepang, while the team lost the constructor’s title lead to the dominant Mercedes.
“We are clearly lacking in downforce, particularly in the high-speed sections.” said Boullier.
“We were focussed on reliability for these early races and so our development evolution is at a different phase to those of other teams. We actually gained aero performance here compared to Australia with our new nose. But because of the different circuit demands that still wasn’t enough to prevent us falling back. We’d have fallen back further without the new nose.”
“We do have strength and that’s why we are able to keep teams behind us but at speed we have got a lot of work to do.” added Button.
“…[we] do have to improve to get close to the front rows.”
McLaren proved to be over a second a lap off the pace of the rampant Mercedes team in Sepang and fell behind Ferrari, Williams and even Toro Rosso in outright laptime. Magnussen’s race was ruined by an incident with Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap, while Button had his work cut out staying ahead of the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
“We have more performance going onto the car for Bahrain and more again two races later in Barcelona and we hope these steps will be quite significant.” concluded Boullier.
“What is encouraging is that the correlation we have seen from factory to track of the new parts was very good. If we have the same correlation with the parts that are coming, then we are going to be moving forward, I’m sure.”