Performance takes priority over reliability – Whitmarsh

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says performance takes priority when it comes to development their car.

Last year breakdowns cost the team race wins in Singapore and Abu Dhabi and a likely one-two-finish in Italy.

But speaking during a Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes phone in Whitmarsh said the team would continue to push the envelope of performance:

“I think with a new racing car you can never be as confident as you would like to be because if it’s stable and reliable typically you want to change it to make it quicker, lighter, more aerodynamic or something.

“So there’s always a challenge. I think we’ve been working hard with Mercedes-Benz on some of the issues we saw last year, and internally as well.”

Whitmarsh said McLaren are “constantly vigilant” about improving their car’s reliability. “But we mustn’t become so obsessed by the pursuit of reliability that we don’t change the car.”

“Clearly we’ve taken some risks in changing the car from last year. We finished the year, the last few races undoubtedly with the quickest car. It would have been very easy to have continued to develop that car, we’d have made it quicker still for the start of this year. Yet we’ve made a lot of changes to the overall package.

“We’ve done so in the belief, as was demonstrated by the case study that we’re talking about, you have to be competitive over 20 or, this year, 19 races. You’ve got to be able to develop it so we’ve given ourself a platform which is new to ensure that we’ve got development opportunity over the course of the season.

“In so doing it makes it more challenging after 5,000km [3,100 miles] of running to go into the first race as comfortable about reliability as you want to be.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.