Brown: McLaren struggles due to 'lack of consistent leadership'

  • 06 Dec 2018 16:11
  • comments 7
  • By: Fergal Walsh

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."

Replies (7)

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  • A McLaren boss that talks sense... I see... my endeavours were not for naught... Finally, I... I can... Rest peacefully.

    • + 0
    • Dec 6 2018 - 18:32
    • Absolutely agree. Although in Zak's defense, he's been fairly consistent for some time in terms of what he felt the team needed to do. My guess is that in order to achieve that leadership consistency they needed to get rid of some people and replace them. Let's hope that that process is pass the point of chaos.

      In many ways this year was worse than last year. McLaren were spared a tremendous amount of embarrassment by the brilliance of Fernando in the first half of the season. In terms of performance, McLaren were only better than Williams.

      • + 0
      • Dec 6 2018 - 21:26
    • He has, but the same used to be true about Boullier. They sure needed renewal. I can also agree that they to some extent worsened this year. They had Alonso and I'll add that they've had lots of luck this year, enough to place them where they are. Had Force India been allowed to retain their full point tally and had STR not been used as a test mule, things would've looked different. They were also lucky that Williams fell down the bullshit tree and hit every branch on the way down.

      • + 0
      • Dec 7 2018 - 13:09
    • Absolutely. Although I put down the Toro Rosso position down to some seriously bad driving. Hartley was nowhere at the beginning of the season. Gasly was peaky. Had a couple of great races. Lots of great qualifying. But also lots of awful races, ever moving backwards. The little prick felt so proud and fast beating Hartley. Next year he'll be exposed as average.

      • + 0
      • Dec 8 2018 - 04:04
  • Bhurt

    Posts: 320

    But but but. It was all Honda wasn't it?

    • + 0
    • Dec 7 2018 - 07:05
    • Mm, I mean it might come as a surprise, but Im a huge Honda nerd. But I will have to concede that they werent without fault, it took at least two to that tango. Yes, McLaren set pretty unreasonable requirements for the PU, and McLaren's tight chassis probably didnt help the reliability, but Honda came in unprepared, with poor management and poor track to bench correlation. That, in combination with the issues McLaren had in its own pitch, was a nightmare parade of a shitshow.

      • + 0
      • Dec 7 2018 - 23:09
  • boudy

    Posts: 1,032

    Hmm. The reason why they struggled is not because of leadership changes is because the car has not been quick enough. The departments that design the car have not been successful enough against the other teams. There is a reason why they are bringing James key in. Success brings a lot of things and amongst them is stability. It's the aerodynamic department that failed but it wouldn't be acceptable for him to state that. For me it's more of the same nonsense that got said when they messed up the Honda deal and blamed them for their struggles. If James Key can get the design sorted I am sure that McLaren can build it. However they will not get to a better level than Renault because of the PU situation.

    • + 0
    • Dec 7 2018 - 07:52

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