McLaren racing director Eric Boullier is confident his team can still make a major step forward with its 2018 car if it can cure a specific weakness.
Having entered the season aiming to be close to fellow Renault-powered customer Red Bull, McLaren has struggled to match that level of performance and is currently fifth in the constructors’ championship. Although the team started with good results, the car’s pace only allows it to fight in the midfield but Boullier says improving performance in low-speed corners — an weakness particularly evident in Canada — is the key to obvious progress.
“The car has a weakness with low-speed corners, and [in Montreal] you have only low-speed corners,” Boullier explained. “There’s nothing high-speed, medium-speed. We knew that it would be difficult, a bit like Bahrain characteristics if you want.
“To compensate for this lack of low-speed grip, we have to carry more wing, which means more drag. The best compromise for our speed level is to run more drag and more downforce.
“I think it’s worth developing it for a couple of reasons. The first one is to understand what’s wrong and to not repeat any kind of platform mistakes in the future. I think there’s still time to develop this car, potentially curing the low-speed lack of grip which has a big impact on top performance.
“So those are two reasons why we should carry on. We also need to make sure we don’t compromise next year’s development as well as understanding the car. That’s the balance which we are working on. We are flat out on trying to cure these car issues, and to make sure we understand it, and obviously we will start soon on next year.”
While McLaren has not scored a podium result since the first race of 2014 and removed chief technical officer Tim Goss from his position earlier this year, Boullier says he has faith the current technical team in place can turn the poor form around.
“Well first of all, it’s not down to one designer. We have 100 percent confidence in the group of people we have at McLaren. We can blame obviously some issues on the car. Definitely I think the car this year is not the car we were expecting to have.
“It’s just a matter of understanding why and making sure we have the right vision and leadership for the future to conduct and make sure we can design and manufacture competitive cars. I believe in the people we have in place today. There is a great talented bunch at McLaren.”