Sam Michael admits McLaren need to up their game if they hope to take the fight to Red Bull and Ferrari this season
Last year, Michael’s first full season at McLaren, the Woking team failed to put in a title challenge
Reliability woes, pit stop issues and other trials cost the team dearly, resulting in McLaren finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship while Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were fourth and fifth in the Drivers’ standings.
“You have to fix everything,” Michael, McLaren’s sporting director, told crash.net.
“There are three main things in motor racing - not in any order, there is performance, there is mechanical reliability and there is operational reliability.
“The first two are pretty obvious, but the last one is all about asking yourself ‘Did you execute everything properly? Were the pit stops right? Did we optimise the car on the track? How many mistakes did the driver make?’
“It is all about removing any team errors from the equation. All three of those areas are areas we have worked on over the past six to eight months, as we knew by mid-season last year that we had made too many mistakes. They are areas we have worked on to deliver this year.”
However, Michael concedes that cutting out the mistakes is not the only error that McLaren need to work on. The Woking team also needs a faster car.
“It’s not just [about rectifying the mistakes], it’s also a case of making the car faster as the gap is so close.
“Even though we won the last couple of races, the car that we used in Brazil wouldn’t win if we took it to Melbourne - we are going to need a car that is much faster than that.
“The technical team within McLaren is very strong in depth and we know how to make a car quick. We know how to make is reliable and we know how to deliver - that is what we are focused on in 2013.”
As for his thoughts on the season ahead, the McLaren man reckons the three usual suspects in McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari will be fighting at the front with Lotus and Mercedes at times getting involved in the mix.
“I think it will be closer, but I still think the normal protagonists will be at the front battling. There is a reason why they are there, because you do the things that need to be done to make a fast car and a winning car, [and] I do think that it will be the same teams winning, although there will be others.
“I’m sure that Lotus will win some races and I think that Mercedes will win some races but, over the course of the season, I think it will be us versus Red Bull, with Ferrari in there as well.”