• Malaysian Grand Prix

McLaren unwilling to give time frame for fix

ESPN Staff
March 22, 2013 « Caterham and Marussia held merger talks | Vettel concerned about tyres »
The McLaren was still struggling for pace in Malaysia © Sutton Images

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael does not know whether his team will be able to solve the problems with its car ahead of the next two rounds of the championship in China and Bahrain.

The team arrived at the opening race in Australia to find the car a long way off the pace and has admitted it has not been able to change much ahead of this weekend in Malaysia. There will be a three-week break until the next race in China, but Michael said there was not yet a target date for finding a solution.

"It's difficult to set a time frame," he said. "With these types of things you're working through a lot of different areas on the car and you will inevitably uncover things as you go along. To know if you can fix it for China or Bahrain, I don't really know yet. We have a lot of people on it, everyone is on it, and the focus is to get it sorted ASAP. There is some very detailed understanding work going on on the problem."

Jenson Button is hoping there will be multiple winners in the opening races to give him a chance of fighting for the title when the problems are solved.

"If Kimi doesn't finish in the points again and the next car that wins doesn't finish in the points at the next race then there might be an opportunity this season," Button said. "If Kimi wins the next four races you'd say he's going to have a 90-point lead over me. The good thing is there are a lot of teams that are reasonably competitive and they are going to take points off each other.

"Lotus did a great job and Kimi did a great job in the race and I think a lot of people will have learned from what they did in the race. It's very different conditions here with the heat and the type of circuit so I think we will see a different winner here."

Michael said the team had some idea of what the issue is and was using the free practice session this weekend to confirm its suspicions.

"We're looking at all fronts at the moment," he said. "We have a pretty good understanding of where we think the issues are and most of those things we can solve in design. However, we get a lot more confidence in knowing what to focus on by doing these track tests and set-up tests to give us more information about how sensitive a particular area of the car is.

"That's what we're in the middle of and it's too early to pinpoint with exact certainty where the area is, even though we've got reasonable confidence of what we have to work on. Internally you have to stay very open minded, because it normally comes through a sequence of different areas of gain. We're trying to stay open minded before we say with authority what it is."

Michael also tried to put a positive spin on the issues.

"Although you never plan to have an experience like we've had with this car, when you come out the other side of it normally your understanding gets much deeper when you have these problems. You're forced to rip up every root to look for issues and that improves your understanding. You usually learn a lot more in the face of adversity as long as you come out the other side. The work that I've seen going on in recent weeks in MTC is quite encouraging that we'll get on top of the problem, but I can't say in terms of a timeframe at this point."