• Malaysian Grand Prix

McLaren not ruling out switch to 2012 car

ESPN Staff
March 21, 2013 « Mercedes yet to show true potential - Hamilton | Red Bull learned lessons with tyres - Vettel »
Sam Michael: "All our technical efforts are focused on [MP4-28] but obviously there are options available to us" © Sutton Images

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael will not rule out a switch to the team's 2012 car if it continues to struggle, but says the team is putting "all the energy" in to the MP4-28.

The team's difficult start to the new season has been well-documented, with McLaren starting the year well off the pace in Melbourne. Having admitted that the new car's performance was even worse than expected in Australia, McLaren is hoping to improve this weekend in Malaysia but concedes it is still not likely to be competitive.

When asked by ESPN during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in if switching to the old car is a serious option, Michael replied: "I think right now our focus is on the 28A and getting that to work.

"All our technical efforts are focused on that but obviously there are options available to us. But at this point all the energy is going in to the current car."

Expanding further, Michael said his cause for optimism was that McLaren believes it knows where it needs to work to solve the difficulties it is having with the 2013 car.

"Right now all of our energy is going in to the current car, so it's going in to understanding the 28A. We pretty much know where [the problems] are; now it's about solving them quickly. And that sort of gives us confidence internally that we can do that. The worst thing is if you don't actually know what areas to look in. We have got a pretty good idea where we need to work, and so all our energies are in the 28A at the moment."

Michael also agreed when it was put to him that a switch to the old car might not automatically mean improvement as the front wing would need changing and the 2013 tyres are different.

I think we have a reasonably understanding of what we need to do, but not 100%, no
Jenson Button on McLaren's MP4-28

"Yes, those are potential issues that you'd have to overcome, but as I said all of our energy is going in to the current car now."

Jenson Button believes that this weekend is the wrong time to be considering such a switch.

"For us at the moment I don't think that's ... for me anyway, as far as I know, the important thing is to keep working and seeing what we can do with development and direction. That's the most important thing, taking every day as it comes. I feel that this weekend we're not going to be winning grands prix so it's not going to suddenly become good but I feel we can find a step forward and it's about developing as much as we can as quick as we can. I know that we're very good at that, so that's what we have to concentrate on. The big question is 'Yes or No' with last year's car and this year's car; I don't think we can really talk about that now."

Asked if McLaren knows what is required to improve the car, Button was reserved in his reply.

"Some of it, yes. A few of the midfield teams that would normally be behind us are very surprised also by how quick some of the cars are and I think that has surprised us just as much as how we're not getting the performance we thought we had. I think we have a reasonably understanding of what we need to do, but not 100%, no."