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.