McLaren’s reliability has been a ‘weak spot’ in 2019

McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes the team have made great strides forward in 2019, but reliability remains their “weak spot”.

The Woking outfit look set to land P4 in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Renault with two races to go, but the current margin of 38 points could have been far greater if it wasn’t for several notable reliability issues.

Lando Norris has suffered the worst of it – The 20-year-old retired from P5 at the Belgian GP on the last lap with Carlos Sainz’s DNF making it a double retirement, while Norris was again cost a strong haul of points in Mexico by a wheel problem at his pit stop.

So looking to the future, the clear area of improvement for McLaren in Brown’s eyes is reliability.

“Our pit stops, we were seventh, eighth best pit stops last year, this year we’re kind of sitting around third,” Brown told Crash.net.

“Launches, we were floating around first, second best, we were sixth, seventh best.

“If you look at the race team fitness if you want to call it that, you see a clear moving forward of not just a better race car and drivers doing really well, but pit stops are getting better, launches are getting better, and then we need to work on reliability.

“That has probably been our weak spot this year.”

But perhaps the biggest positive for Brown has been the performances of both Sainz and Norris, as well as the relationship they have developed in their first season together.

“I’m very pleased with both drivers, I think everyone is impressed with how they have raced,” he said.

“Lando in particular has not made the level of rookie mistakes that you would expect.

“If you look at Leclerc, his first year, he’s had one incident in Spain, which was kind of a racing incident, so he’s driven extremely maturely, which I think is very impressive for a driver of his age.

“He’s been very fast, the drivers are I think 9-9 in qualifying, which is exactly what you want.

“Make no mistake about it, while they get on very well, they’re extremely competitive with each other, but in a very healthy way, so I’m really pleased with our driver line-up and their pace.”

Sainz joined McLaren for the 2019 campaign after a season and a bit with Renault, and the Spaniard said that for him, McLaren was “love at first sight”.

“What sold me on McLaren was, first of all, the connection with Zak and how much this team wanted me to join,” he told Yahoo! Sport.

“As a driver, it’s very important to feel at home and feel that the team wants you. I’ve always felt at McLaren it was pretty much love at first sight since we started talking.

“It was very important for me, after the Renault and Red Bull periods where I never felt fully at home, that I went to a team that wanted me and that I could show my talent, so that was a big, big part of it.

“Then when I saw the restructuring going on inside McLaren, I realised how realistic they were about their chances, and how honest they were about why they had been so poor in recent years.

“I also saw a team in the making and wanting to move forward, which is exactly what I needed at the time.”

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Chadwick only wants to enter F1 ‘on merit’

Inaugural W Series champ Jamie Chadwick wants to race in F1 but only on merit, and concedes that at this moment she’s not yet ready.

21-year-old Chadwick won this year’s W Series, beating 19 ladies to the title.

But while the all-women series put her name on the global map, Chadwick’s dream is to go up against the lads in the premier class: Formula 1.

She, however, admits she’s not yet up to the task.

“I want to be there on merit,” she explained to AFP.

“I don’t care if someone pays for me to be in Formula 1 tomorrow, I won’t do it as I am not there on merit yet.

“I know if I jumped into an F1 seat tomorrow I would not do women in motorsport justice and I feel morally loyal to that.”

The last time a woman competed in Formula 1 was back in 1976 when Italy’s Lella Lombardi lined up on the Austrian GP grid.

Chadwick added: “If I have the opportunity, which I believe I do after this year, to race at all levels and I am successful in all of them then I deserve a seat.

“If am not then I do not deserve a seat but so long as I have had the opportunity I cannot say I did not have the best shot at it.”

Chadwick, who will defend her W Series title this season, is currently linked with the Williams team have signed as their development driver.

The Williams deal, unlikely others put on the table, comes at no cost to the Brit.

“I was so lucky the Williams thing came about,” she said.

“I told them that I could not pay for anything.

“I don’t think F1 teams should benefit from young drivers constantly being given false hope and led in all sorts of directions throughout their career.”

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Ricciardo: Podiums just ‘a bit of fame’ and ‘TV time’

Though Daniel Ricciardo admits that he does miss being on the podium, he still sees it as “a bit of fame” and “TV time” at the end of the day.

Ricciardo, a seven-time race winner, has been relegated to fighting for ‘best of the rest’ status in 2019 after leaving Red Bull to join Renault.

P4 in Monza has been the highlight, and even though he knows that result would have been better if he had a trophy and champagne to show for it, he says the feeling of knowing that he’s done the best he can is good enough for him.

“It’s really just about the outcome of the weekend. I’ll always leave a racetrack happy and fulfilled if I know I’ve got everything out of it,” Ricciardo explained to Autosport.com.

“Yes I won’t lie, that is heightened by taking home a trophy or a bottle of champagne, but there’s also been podiums I got where I wasn’t actually completely satisfied with how I drove.

“So a podium isn’t everything, but for sure if you’ve done the best you can, and you do take something home, that’s better.

“The high will never be as high, and finishing fourth in Monza was a huge result, but I still wasn’t standing on the podium. So I’m not going out and running around the streets naked!

“But as far as my personal fulfilment that’s really meeting everything I need if I leave the race knowing I got everything out of it.

“It’s probably just a bit of fame and TV time with a podium, but I think you know within yourself if you’ve got everything you can.

“It’s enough for now, in the position I’m in.”

One thing that Ricciardo has found with being in the midfield is that his lap-one racecraft has improved.

“It’s tight and at times frustrating,” he said of starting down the order. “Because a tenth puts you three or four spots back. When you get that tenth, it puts you three or four spots forward.

“And it feels like a real battle. I think most of the time the person who’s best of the rest feels like they actually won something over the weekend.

“It’s been good, it’s been fun. The only thing that I wouldn’t say sucks a little bit, but isn’t as fun, is that you’re more likely to get caught up in first lap incidents, being right in the middle.

“That’s the only thing which is a little bit, I won’t say out of your control, but you’re put in that position a bit more often than I was in the last few years.

“But it’s also allowed me to work on my lap one racecraft.

“I think my racecraft in general and my overtaking through the race isn’t bad, but my lap one stuff, now starting in the midfield, there have been times where I haven’t made the best decision into Turn 1, and after the fact I’m ‘I could have done that better’.

“So I’m learning, being in the midfield, and that’s cool.

“I don’t want to be here forever, but it’s a new skill I’m learning a bit which I didn’t have to do for the last few years.”

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FIA relying on teams to police 2021 rules

The FIA hope that teams will give them a helping hand in policing the 2021 regulations by reporting any potential loopholes.

F1 will bring in major changes to the regulations from 2021, covering everything from car design to revenue distribution, and with this comes the opportunity for teams to find loopholes and boost their performance.

In an effort to avoid this the FIA created something of a rule-breaking group during discussions over the regulations to sniff out areas which teams could exploit.

And while confident that most of these loopholes have been figured out, the FIA still expect a few more to be found and hope that teams will help them to police the rules for the good of the sport.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, FIA head of single seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis said: “We did identify two or three areas that were not well written or well controlled and we wrote better rules in the last few months.

“Out of the teams a fair percentage, I wouldn’t say all, will take the responsible view and if they see there is an inconsistency in the rules they will be interested to report it to us and to help us find a solution.

“I don’t know what that could turn out to be, and hopefully we’ve covered most of the ground. I’m not expecting teams to do it out of a charitable cause.

“The reason teams, depending on their attitude or whether they are risk-prone or not, will do that is because they have found some loophole, they know it is against the intention of the rule, and we have up until a certain point in time to adjust the rules and make corrections.

“They don’t want to necessarily spend three months on something and have the carpet pulled under their feet and lose three months.

“So sometimes some teams discover [something] and before they start spending resource there they want to be sure that it won’t be somehow banned or whatever.”

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