McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl says that the teams’ disastrous start to the season is spurring on the team to work even harder to understand their issues, after finishing P14 and P15 from 17 finishers in Bahrain.
McLaren’s 2022 season so far has been a tale of two halves – one of glory in Barcelona where it became apparent their package was fast and reliable and didn’t suffer at all from porpoising, but the other where crippling brake cooling issues cost them mountains of time in the Bahrain test and left the team managing the root problem alongside being behind on the data side on the race weekend.
Seidl explains how it was more than the car performance that they think hindered them in Bahrain, owing to the incorrect tyre choice for the start of the race, and their brake temperature management meaning drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t get their tyres to operate at the optimal temperatures.
“In hindsight the tyre choice for the race start definitely cost us more than we expected, it was just very difficult for us to get the tyres in the right temperature window,” said Seidl to written media. “And then when the tyres actually had an advantage compared to the guys that were running on soft and when they started to degrade we had the underlying issue that we simply didn’t have enough performance and not enough grip in the car.
“It didn’t allow us despite getting close to cars to overtake. And yeah, that’s how the race went. It is clear that let’s say on the positive side we managed now with two cars to finally do a race distance with this new car, where we could try different tyre compounds as well. So hopefully this gives us all some learnings, which you can benefit from already for next week in Jeddah on the track to the completely different track layout as well.
“But independent of that, it’s clear that yeah, we have lack of performance in our package. That’s where we’re working really hard now back home in order to understand why that is to find how we can get back on track as quickly as possible. Lando and Daniel deserve a better car from us in order to go racing.
“So big thanks to them as well to push through and stay positive as well. Throughout the weekend as I said, we have everything in place in the team in terms of people’s experience and expertise in order to come back as quickly as possible and that’s all we have to focus on now,” summed up Seidl, who elaborated more on what Ricciardo faced early on and why he got that radio message of looking after the brakes.
“We had to manage different parameters throughout the race,” Seidl noted. “Doing some temperatures, yeah, which cost us even more performance. I think at the beginning of the first stint, it played out a lot worse than we expected.
“Knowing that there is a downside for the first lap times of grip starting on the mediums, we knew that with high degradation, you could expect to have the soft tyres, there might be a chance later in the first stint to actually benefit from less degradation on the medium tyres, but unfortunately losing all these positions at the beginning of the race.
“Due to the grip being even less than the expected, but also due to some other parameters.” Seidl reckons the nature of the Bahrain circuit, teamed with the climate of the hot desert location, has exposed the Woking-based outfit’s package. He is intent of these issues not spilling over to different circuits and emphasises the necessity for your car to be at least competitive at any kind of circuit layout.
“It’s still obviously early in the season and it’s a long season, we will have to see now simply how the car is working and this package on a different track layouts, as I said before Jeddah is obviously different track to here,” started Seidl. “It definitely looks like this track has exposed us I suppose to the weaknesses our package is having quite a lot, but in the end it’s also that our ambition must be to have a competitive car on an old kind of track layouts and that’s what we have to focus on.”
The drivers’ motivation is not a concern for the McLaren team, says Seidl – after Lando Norris notably signed a multi-year contract extension at the start of the season. “I don’t think we have any issue with motivation or commitment of both of our drivers, it was simply a difficult race to manage for both of them,” he said.
“They still try to give it their all. Also in terms of trying to learn as much as possible, which I think we did. I mean, we tried different strategies to see if there’s any, any chance to anything from this in terms of positions, but in the end, we just were not competitive enough to get closer to cars in front of us.
“It is absolutely understandable that Lando and Daniel are frustrated with the situation, they both deserve a car that is much more competitive. At the same time they understand the product and the team as well. And that is very important also now from their side to help out the team getting through this challenging period.
“And as I said before, I’m absolutely confident that we can quickly switch this pain or disappointment into focus and commitment within the team, with all the talents we have on board as well. To get out of the situation as quickly as possible,” summed up Seidl.
The story was written by Danny Herbert
Here’s how the F1 Bahrain GP panned out