McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes that a lack of consistent leadership was the cause of the team's struggle throughout the 2018 season. The Woking outfit mostly endured a tough year, after recording five top-eight finishes with Fernando Alonso in the opening five races.
However, point finishes were a rarity for the team after that, and it ended the year in sixth place in the constructor's standings, despite coming under pressure from Racing Point Force India who only started scoring after the summer break.
And Brown thinks that McLaren's downfall has been coming for a number of years: "Ultimately what got us here this year started five years ago. This year’s problem is years in the works," Brown said. "My summary of that is that we’ve had a lack of consistent leadership.
"I don’t point the fingers at any one individual. That was a lack of focus because of all the activities that were going on, from the boardroom down: buyouts; merging of companies; team principals in; team principals out; CEOs in; CEOs out.
"It was just a constant revolving kind of lack of focus, and I think that’s what created the issue. And then what fell out of that is that people didn’t have clear goals and accountability, responsibility. Ultimately that’s what produced a poor race car this year. It was kind of our structure, our organisation.
"The individual people are extremely talented. We’ve got world championships, we’ve got over 100 people that have been here for over 20 years. They haven’t forgotten how to win we just didn’t have the right infrastructure in place, and that’s what we’ve set out to fix."
Three senior personnel left McLaren this year, as Tim Goss, Eric Boullier and Matt Morris bowed out. Gil de Ferran was appointed as sporting director, while Toro Rosso's James Key is expected to join sometime in 2019.
When asked by Crash.net if a season like 2018 was important for McLaren to reveal its core problems, Brown said: "I would have preferred to have a good year, but of course, this year was a surprise to all of us.
"It did get you to look in the mirror quickly, get really close to the team, make some changes, so ideally long term we will have benefited the racing team from this year. We’ve uncovered lots of areas that we’ve had some shortcomings, that ultimately will be a good point because we think we addressed them or we’re on our way to addressing them."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing