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Next three races crucial for McLaren - Neale

ESPN Staff
June 25, 2013 « Hamilton desires Ferrari drive | McLaren tests new parts at Idiada »
McLaren failed to score a point in Canada © Getty Images
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McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says the next three races will be central to determining how much focus it retains on 2013.

After a poor start to the season McLaren is sixth in the constructors' championship with a mere 37 points, compared to 201 for championship leaders Red Bull. With three European races ahead of the enforced mid-season break, Neale admitted during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in that the team would be likely to turn the majority of its attentions to next season unless it sees a marked improvement before the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"To some extent I think you're right [the next three races are crucial], however there are some programs on the car that we will want to run through much later in to the season which is important as a fundamental for next year as well," Neale said. "Broadly you're right; I think that we recognise that at the moment there isn't going to be a golden bullet. We are pushing hard but the reality of the situation is that there's still a big gap from us to the front of the grid."

However, Neale explained the different variables that would determine when McLaren needs to switch focus and said there would still be certain areas of the 2013 car where further development will prove beneficial.

"I think if you looked in to any of the Formula One teams when you're coming up against a step change in the regulations as we are in 2014 - not just in powertrain but in aerodynamics as well - then I'm pretty sure that all of the teams will have been running some kind of car concept research work in the last quarter of last year, maybe some even sooner than that. So we have been contemplating what we're going to do from a car concept point of view throughout the winter and we're still doing it.

"Progressively as we need to meet the deadlines for decision making on that car matched by the readiness of our engine suppliers to be ready with the relevant bits of information then we obviously need to put resource on 2014. We're working very closely with Mercedes in that respect; Mercedes have got a huge program going on up at Brixworth and we're very close to the guys up there. They're doing some great stuff at the moment and they need to be given some extra time this year to be able to maximise the performance of that engine.

"So the program is to some extent fluid. In terms of this year's car versus next year's car then we're still learning a lot. I think that some of the fundamental work that we'll continue to do beyond the shutdown is useful in to next year but inevitably once we're through in to August we will be migrating some resource across in to 2014."