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McLaren needed to take risks with new car - Whitmarsh

ESPN Staff
March 11, 2013 « McLaren sticking with Mercedes in 2014 | You either love me or hate me - Hamilton »
The new McLaren is a big departure from last year's car © Sutton Images
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McLaren is confident the risks it has taken with its new car will pay off over the course of the season this year.

The new MP4-28 is very different to last year's race-winning car and the team has admitted it had a few "headaches" understanding its behavior on degrading tyres at the cool winter tests. However, team principal Martin Whitmarsh is confident the new design will pay off in the long run.

"Clearly we have taken some risks in changing the car from last year," he told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "We finished last season with undoubtedly the quickest car and it would have been easy to continue to develop that car and make it quicker still for the start of this year, yet we've made a lot of changes to the overall package in the belief that you have to be competitive over 19 races and develop it. So we have given ourselves a platform that is new to ensure we have got the development opportunities over the course of the season. But we'll see, I think we will have an interesting season and I hope we are certainly going to be competitive.

McLaren's title campaign in 2012 was hindered by a number of reliability problems and Whitmarsh said the team had been working hard to address those ahead of this season.

"With a new racing car you can never be a confident as you would like to be and if it's stable and reliable then typically you will want to change it to make it lighter, quicker, more aerodynamic or something," he said. "There is always a challenge and we've been working hard with Mercedes-Benz on some of the issues we saw last year, and internally as well. I think we are constantly vigilant but we mustn't become so obsessed with the pursuit of reliability that we don't change the car."

Ahead of the start of the season, McLaren announced that Tim Goss had replaced Paddy Lowe as technical director over the winter. Lowe is still contracted to the team until the end of the year when he is expected to go to Mercedes, but Whitmarsh said he hoped Lowe could still work on some of the parts of the car that will become irrelevant in 2014 when the new engine regulations result in a complete overhaul of the design.

"I met Paddy on Thursday and we had a discussion and obviously I then had to go to Australia, but I will talk to Paddy again afterwards. There are quite big areas of this year's regulations that are completely non-applicable going forwards so I would hope we would get him involved in some of those challenges."