McLaren encouraged by progress report of Renault for 2019 F1 season
McLaren's F1 chief Zak Brown feels the decision to move to Renault was the correct one as they are encouraged by what they have seen for the 2019 season.
McLaren had quite a hefty end of its relationship with Honda after the 2017 F1 season with the decision then to switch to Renault when both Mercedes and Ferrari decided not to provide their power units to the Woking-based outfit.
Renault expanded to a third team while Honda moved on with Toro Rosso. For 2019 though, Honda will have Red Bull running their engines as well after they decided not to renew with Renault following the lack of performance from the power unit.
While Red Bull moves on due to the lack, at the same time, McLaren seems happy with their decision to join hands with Renault - one year on - and is also encouraged by what the French manufacturer is planning for the 2019 season.
"We’re very happy with Renault," said Brown to FormulaRapida.net, when asked about their decision. "We have a very good relationship with them. I got my report [in Abu Dhabi] on how next year’s power unit is coming along and that’s very encouraging.
"They’ve given us a reliable engine this year and so it’s going well we’re happy with the decision that we’ve made, we’re very happy with Renault, I think we’ll benefit from having two teams on the grid next year.
"They’ll be focused on ourselves and themselves, and excited to have a long term future with them." McLaren did progress in the standings to finish sixth from ninth last year, but looking at the overall picture, the car lacked performance hugely.
Stoffel Vandoorne struggled pretty much with Fernando Alonso also forcing its way to score points. Despite the apparent lacks, Brown reckons the Renault partnership actually helped the team understand where the issue were in their car.
As they were the only team to run on Honda power, it became difficult to pinpoint the issues as they did not have a reference point, while the engine shortcomings overshadowed the chassis performance or lack of as well.
"I think it was more difficult to diagnose the issues," he said. "We had challenges in those three years and so it [was] harder to understand when you’ve got different variables that aren’t performing, where are the areas of weakness.
"When you get yourself in the situation where you have a clear marker where Red Bull is, you can take that out of the equation and there’s fewer places to look. I think in that sense, it helped that there were two other teams we could directly measure ourselves against, and we fell short performing against either of them. So that did help."
Even though Brown has praise for Renault, the French manufacturer did not have a great 2018 when they parted ways with long-time partner Red Bull on a difficult note. Their own team had a tough run despite finishing fourth in the standings.
In fact, Nico Hulkenberg agreed with Red Bull's points and wants his team to prepare a competitive package for 2019 - both from the engine and the chassis side to be able to challenge the front-runners on all the F1 circuits.
The talk is for Renault to change things with their power unit but it remains to be seen what they are upto when Red Bull has been harping hugely on the progress made by Honda which they reckon is enough to even topple Renault in 2019.
[Note: This story was also written by me on FormulaRapida.net]