‘McLaren must be more consistent’

Date published: June 7 2012

Jonathan Neale has denied the McLaren are falling off the pace, confident if the team cuts out their errors they will be back on top…

Jonathan Neale has denied the McLaren are falling off the pace, confident if the team cuts out their errors they will be back on top.

After a winning start to the start, which was followed up by back-to-back top three results, McLaren have failed to reach the podium in last three grands prix.

Finishing fifth at the last race in Monaco, a frustrated Lewis Hamilton said McLaren seemed to be moving back in the pecking order.

However, managing director Jonathan Neale says this is not true, the team has just made some mistakes of late that they need to cut out.

“We’ve made some operational mistakes in Bahrain and Spain and obviously we need to eliminate those,” he said during a Vodafone phone-in.

“In Formula One, you make the slightest slip and you pay a heavy price for it, but that’s why we love the sport. You have to be good at everything.

“The car definitely has the pace and the upgrades are coming through thick and fast. But it is very tight. You’re only looking at a tenth or two and you can move a lot of places during qualifying.

“We’ve seen Jenson being very unlucky or not quite getting the car into the right spot during the last two races.

“On the one hand it makes Formula One very exciting for everyone who’s a fan of the sport. So if you just like to see good racing then it’s terrific. If you’re a managing director of a Formula One team then it’s a different game altogether.

“We’ve got to be more consistent. But I’m confident the pace is there and we’ll continue to push hard with our upgrade packages.”

Neale also defended Sam Michael, who has come in for some stick from McLaren fans who reckon the sporting director is partly to blame for the team’s errors.

“Sam is settling into a very different role from his previous one and he’s doing a very good job. He’s spending most of his times looking at operational excellence and also sporting decision support during the race weekends helping Martin (Whitmarsh) on the frontline.

“In Formula One, when you’ve put the car on the front row or on pole position, any operational mistake is incredibly painful and costly. But anyone who is actually doing the maths and charting where the quickest stop times are coming from, you’ll see that we are consistently improving and will improve again during the course of this weekend.

“Also, on our launches, we’ve been consistently one of the best cars off the grid. With the benefit of data hindsight and after cooling down post-Monaco we can see what Fernando Alonso did in taking 2.9 seconds out of us during his in-lap for his pit stop more than dominated any time lost in a pit stop. That said we must not be complacent.

“We have made errors and we’ve put them behind us and moved on. We are continually modifying the car and our training to eliminate these operational mistakes. But they are split-second decisions.”