McLaren expects smoother second year with Renault
McLaren believes last year’s experience with engine supplier Renault will stand the parties in greater stead for the upcoming Formula 1 campaign.
McLaren, following three years with Honda, switched to Renault power for 2018, but the team’s anticipated leap forward failed to materialise, as it finished a low-key sixth in the Constructors’ Championship.
Renault has already expressed confidence that it has made strides with its engine package, having been unable to consistently challenge at the front in the hybrid era.
McLaren, meanwhile, has been able to refine its MCL34 with greater clarity, having only confirmed its Renault deal for 2018 the previous September, hindering the potential of last year’s MCL33.
“Renault are saying things differently this year than they did last year,” said McLaren boss Zak Brown.
“Ie, last year they were very grounded in where they thought their engine was and the deficit to the front.
“So on the basis of that we’ve found them to be very honest in their communication of where they think they are, so it’s encouraging they’re as positive as they are.
“A second year with Renault, we’ve done a better job working closely with them to develop the car around the power unit, we know the power unit better.
“That was some of our issues last year, I think we made the decision to change [in 2017] a little bit late and we had reliability issues, some of those were car design and not knowing the power unit and how to package it as well as we could do.
“So it seems like they’re in a better spot, a better position to capitalise on a year’s experience.”
Brown nonetheless stressed that McLaren is remaining grounded with its expectations for 2019, having emphasised last year that its recovery is a long-term project.
“I think all we can do is, which is our desire, is to take a good step forward,” he said.
“I think it’s difficult not knowing the competition, and it’s really close where we’re racing, where that is in points and championship.
“I think last year was obviously very disappointing, we did not produce a fast race car or a race car that responded well to development… as the season went on others got in front of us.
“I think this year the desire is to put a good quality race car on track from the word go and then have our development work over the course of the year.
“But it’s hard to put a number on what that looks like.”