McLaren’s aerodynamic issues can only be resolved with track running and not wind tunnel testing, according to CEO Zak Brown.
After back-to-back races without scoring a point, McLaren failed to get either car out of Q1 at the French Grand Prix as Fernando Alonso qualified 16th and Stoffel Vandoorne 18th. The result comes after Eric Boullier was forced to address questions of dissent within the team, and the Frenchman was absent from a team press session after qualifying as he remained with the engineers to debrief Saturday’s running.
“I think we have identified the areas in which we have a problem or problems,” Brown said. “It’s in aerodynamics. I’m not going to give more than I am ready to say now, [but] it’s something that doesn’t show up in the wind tunnel.
“Therefore we can’t try and solve it in the wind tunnel because we can’t replicate the issue or issues in the wind tunnel, so we have to try and fix the issues at the racetrack. And with no testing, or very limited testing, I think you could see that we were running different configuration wings this weekend, different floors, and unfortunately we having to test and experiment at the racetrack.
“While most other teams are now on their development path and their base program is working for them, we are having to identify and solve these issues. We had some different aerodynamic devices last year that we don’t have this year, so we are having to sort these issues out at the racetrack.”
With McLaren using the Toyota wind tunnel in Cologne, Brown admits the issue is not with the wind tunnel itself.
“I think the Toyota wind tunnel is fine; I completely agree with you on that, it’s not a wind tunnel issue. The characteristic of the racecar — because you can’t simulate everything in the wind tunnel — and what we’ve identified as the areas of weakness simply doesn’t show up in the wind tunnel, whether it’s Toyota’s or someone else’s, so it’s something we need to develop at the racetrack.”
After echoing Boullier’s response to Friday’s reports of unrest at McLaren, Brown was asked if he feels the team is under attack and said: “I guess it depends from what perspective.
“I think we are having a difficult time racing this year. I think we all had higher expectations for how we would perform. That being said, we are fifth in the championship and this time last year we were ninth in the championship, so we are having a better season.
“Probably just not matching the expectations that we all have when we have two world class drivers at a racing team like McLaren. I think I will hold back on my comments and personal views of the level of scrutiny that’s put on McLaren.”