McLaren flew home from China with much to assess following a difficult weekend where both drivers were knocked out of Q2, then both involved in first lap carnage, destroying any chance of points.
But it’s not back to the drawing board, with Carlos Sainz stating that he’s quite happy with the car, his first at McLaren.
China was an important round for the squad in testing the MCL34 with Shanghai a front-limited track, different to Melbourne and Bahrain, where Sainz fought Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen for fifth…
…until the pair collided at Turn 4 on lap four, Sainz sustaining a puncture, before retiring due to an undisclosed issue.
Regardless, the team now looks like it has a baseline to build from. Its MCL34 a car responsive to development…
… a total contrast to last year’s edition, its first-ever powered by Renault, the new challenger suffering a mysterious aerodynamic issue - making it unresponsive to update parts.
The aero gremlin particularly painful after a messy divorce with its former power unit partner Honda including a loss in annual sponsorship revenue. The Japanese reported to be paying $80 million US dollars.
… commercial support and works status now going to Red Bull.
SOUNDBITE (Japanese) MASASHI YAMAMOTO,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, HONDA RACING F1:
"We are starting our new season with a new structure, two teams and four machines.”
To ensure the issue was not carried forward, McLaren delayed the development of its new MCL34… a move Sainz has hailed.
“I think the team has taken good steps in the right direction, and this car still has a lot of margin of development,” he said.
And with James Key, its new technical director onboard, the development of the MCL34 can continue in parallel with the 2020 car.
We may be just three races into the season. But McLaren doing well is a story that the sport needs as the former powerhouse British team claws its way back from the brink…