McLaren is placing an emphasis on reliability with its 2019 car after facing a number of issues during pre-season testing last year.
Expectations were high at McLaren in 2018 following its switch to Renault power, but its first day of testing in Barcelona was interrupted early on by a wheel nut issue that saw Fernando Alonso spin into the gravel. The team ended pre-season with the lowest mileage due to a number of items that needed addressing on its car and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says reliability is something the team aims to improve this year.
“I don’t want to share in detail some of the things we’re doing differently this offseason than we did last season,” Brown said. “We are doing things differently, to be more prepared, not just with performance but we had a lot of reliability issues going into Barcelona testing last year. So we have taken some measures to get ahead of that.
“We will continue to develop as all F1 teams do, on a weekly basis, and we’ll bring to Australia our most developed performance that we’ve been doing here since we started developing the car and having reliability programs to make sure [it is better].
“One of the reasons why we were slower to bring performance (in 2018) is because we had reliability issues. You roll off the truck in Barcelona, instead of being able to get straight down to performance, you’re having issues — wheel nut issues, heating issues — you then stop focusing on performance and you start focusing on reliability.
“The team did a good job to give us reliability coming out of Spain testing, to have cars both finish in the points in Australia. We’re in a better place performance wise and reliability coming into winter testing.”
Although Red Bull has switched from Renault to Honda after seeing performance gains from the Japanese manufacturer with Toro Rosso last year, Brown is confident in the power unit McLaren has at its disposal.
“We’re very happy with Renault. The challenges that we had were not power unit related, those were our issues. The power unit I don’t believe was our challenge.
“Honda of course continue to develop and do an excellent job, that doesn’t surprise us. I’m glad they’re still in the sport because I think that’s something that was being discussed by them internally.
“Renault ended the season with I think four or five podiums, won some races, so we are confident we made the right decision for our long-term future. To get a better racecar on the track is the challenge that we have ahead of us.”