They may have made a poor start to the 2013 season, but McLaren are not quite ready to give up on the MP4-28 yet, according to managing director Jonathan Neale.
The team currently stands 6th in the championship after four races, with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez failing to score a podium between them yet. Many expected McLaren to shift its focus to 2014 early on in order to be in the best possible position to challenge for next season’s championship, but Neale has said that this will not be the case.
“I think we will be there by the end of the summer,” Neale explained to journalists at McLaren’s HQ on Tuesday. “The reality is that what we’re doing at the moment is essential for next year as well. We have to understand properly what is going on with our car, so in terms in some of the correlation problems we’ve had, we eliminate them.”
Neale believes that without identifying what has caused the team to be well off the pace this season, the same problems could occur next year as well, making it important to continue working on the MP4-28.
“The body of knowledge we’re working on right now is really important because unless we nail the understanding right now then that always lurks there.
“Sometimes you get an overperformance, sometimes you get underperformance, sometimes you get an unwelcome surprise as we did. So I think it’s really important that we do the proper engineering work now to make sure it doesn’t sit in our system anywhere.”
Neale’s comments may surprise many, especially with Mercedes already committing 50% of its workforce to next season’s car. However, McLaren will be keen on returning to the top step of the podium this year if they are to re-establish themselves as front runners.
The team has brought upgrades for the MP4-28 to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, and the race will be an indicator of just what the British team can achieve this season.
Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.
Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.
He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”
Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.
In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”
Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.
Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.