McLaren upturn shows inherent quality of team - Gil de Ferran

McLaren’s encouraging early Formula 1 season form underlines the quality of the personnel on its books, according to Sporting Director Gil de Ferran.

McLaren endured a troublesome 2018 and took a low-key sixth in the standings, with several key figures – including chassis chief Tim Goss, lead engineer Matt Morris, as well as Racing Director Eric Boullier – leaving the team.

McLaren recruited James Key as its new Technical Director, but he only began working with the team in Bahrain, while Andreas Seidl will not take up his role of Managing Director until the start of May.

McLaren had both cars through to Q3 in Bahrain while Lando Norris raced to sixth position, despite dropping to 14th place on the opening lap; Carlos Sainz Jr. also emphasised the MCL34’s potential by battling Red Bull’s Max Verstappen early on.

“I guess if you recall even last year I always said we had great people at McLaren,” said de Ferran.

“And I think with little changes in the organisation that we made, and the way we are dealing with each other, that talent is shining through.

“This is a team effort, and as a team working together really is something that makes a huge difference.

“There was a lot of effort into exactly that subject: how do we work better together? How do we collaborate better together? And, largely, with the same personnel we have improved a lot.

“And hopefully we’ll continue to do that; it was James’ first weekend so he’s a new talent that comes into the team.

“Andreas will come later on in the year but I think as long as we keep improving on how we collaborate and work together we’ll continue to get better. Often not enough credit is given to that account.”

De Ferran added that McLaren should also be encouraged by the progress of its MCL34, having struggled to understand and develop its draggy MCL34.

“I think one of the good things going on is the car is behaving as we expect basically,” he said.

“Our engineers understand the weaknesses of this year’s car and little by little we’re trying to address that and improve the car.

“Hopefully we’ll continue to see incremental steps as fast as we can.”