McLaren operations director Stephen Roberts has revealed that some of the team’s staff had to sacrifice time off over Christmas in order to get the new car ready for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
After enduring a miserable 2015 campaign that saw the team finish ninth in the constructors’ championship, McLaren has been working hard over the winter to prevent a repeat in 2016.
The new season had been scheduled to start at the beginning of April in Australia, only for the calendar to revert back to its traditional mid-March kick-off slot.
This in turn caused pre-season testing to be brought forward, leaving teams with a race against time to make up for this shift.
In a feature on McLaren’s official website, Roberts revealed that the McLaren team was forced to sacrifice its time off over the holiday period to speed up the development progress and ensure that the new car will make it to the first test in Barcelona.
“Our entire build programme wasn’t lined up for [the early start]” Roberts said. “So we knew we had a problem to solve.
“In terms of our design and engineering capacity, it’s a relatively straightforward re-planning exercise – there’s less time to get the work done, so everyone works a bit harder.
“But the build schedule is on a critical path. It needs to pass all the FIA safety tests and be ready for the first test, which was also brought forward. In that situation, you can’t just re-plan, you need to do something different.
“We put about eight shifts of work back into the programme over a five-day period – a fantastic effort. In total, there were about 110 people involved and we looked after our Christmas workers with a competitive package.
“We had a really good response, and people seemed to enjoy it too – it was a bit weird, not having all the time off, but there was a good spirit in the place. Everyone knew why they were doing it, and it really cleared the decks.
“Most pleasingly, it meant that, once we came back in the New Year, we were back on schedule – and it felt like the programme had always been phased that way. It was an incredible effort.”