McLaren boss feeling ‘quite chipper’


McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admits he is feeling “quite chipper” after the team’s strong finish to the 2011 campaign…

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admits he is feeling “quite chipper” after the team’s strong finish to the 2011 campaign.

For the second season in a row, the Woking-based squad had to settle for second in the Constructors’ Championship behind Red Bull while Jenson Button finished runner-up to Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers’ standings.

Despite missing out on both Championships, Whitmarsh feels things are looking good for the 2012 season.

“I sat in the project review meeting last week and we had made some really good progress, so I came out of it really feeling good,” he said.

“What happens in the review is that week by week, you make a load of performance or you have had a quiet week of making performance and you start to worry.

“During the season, every fortnight, you see the competitors, you see what they have done and you see that reference point. But during the winter it goes off the radar screen and you are flying blind.

“It ebbs and flows, you set targets and if you are meeting those targets you start to get punchy and believe you can do it. There have been years when you come out of that process and you are only half confident, and it all comes good. And there are years when you hit your targets and you go out and you find that someone has moved the target somewhere else when you weren’t looking.

“At the moment we had a good week so I feel quite chipper about it right now. We have to keep that momentum now. I think the team is working well, and I am sure we are going to have both drivers in good shape next year.”

McLaren endured a nightmare pre-season and their MP4-26 labelled “a mess” by pundits. However, the engineers redoubled their efforts and they were able to keep Red Bull and Vettel honest during the latter stages of the season.

Whitmarsh is confident they will learn from their 2011 mistakes.

“I think we had a shocking winter, probably one of the worst winters we have had,” he said. “We were nowhere near competitive and had not done a race distance before we finished the Australian GP.

“That is not how you should start a season. I think we have taken some decisions based on what happened, and hopefully taken some learning from that.

“We were taking some non-productive risks last year, and although it is easy for me to step back, I got reasonably involved at the end of it.

“But we have some really clever creative people. If I go around and say ‘don’t take risks’, I would be stifling to people who are much cleverer than me and more inventive.”