Sunday 21 January 2018

Ba-humbug! - McLaren worked through Christmas to get new F1 car ready

Philip Duncan

McLaren abandoned their Christmas break in order to get their new car ready for the upcoming Formula One season.

The famous British team, who last year endured the worst campaign of their glittering grand prix history, had to amend their schedule after the season-opening race in Melbourne was brought forward by two weeks.

The now-traditional Australian curtain raiser had been scheduled for April 3, but the first of a record-breaking 21-race season will now take place on March 20.

"Our entire build programme wasn't lined up for that so we knew we had a problem to solve," said McLaren Racing's operations director Simon Roberts reflecting on the change to the calendar.

"In simple terms, 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."

McLaren announced on Monday that they will break cover with their MP4-31 on the eve of the first winter test in Barcelona on February 21. Last week, the Woking-based outfit also revealed a shake-up in their management structure with Jost Capito to join their racing team from Volkswagen.

McLaren acquired only 27 points last year as their renewed relationship with Japanese manufacturer Honda failed to deliver on their successes in the late 1980's and early 1990's which saw the British constructor win four consecutive driver and team championships.

Jenson Button, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Tuesday, remains with the team for his 17th campaign in Formula One, while he will again be partnered by Fernando Alonso despite team boss Ron Dennis claiming the two-time champion was considering a sabbatical from the sport.

Press Association

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