SILVERSTONE, 4th July 2014 (F1 Plus / Graham Keilloh) - McLaren’s Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Neale today outlined the radical change going on at the Woking team in its attempts to return to competitiveness after a season-and-a-half away from the front of the grid.
Speaking after Silvertsone’s Friday practice running Neale said: ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do internally to rebuild after some of the difficulties that we had last year. It’s well-known that we’re actively strengthening the team at the moment, and Eric (Boullier) and I and Ron (Dennis) are working very hard to make sure that we return ourselves to a performance where we should be as quickly as possible.
‘But it’s a tough job, there’s no easy way through this’ Neale added, ‘you have to remember whichever end of the grid that you’re at, each of us have got 80 runs per week in the wind tunnel by regulation, that’s it. You’ve got to make the most of it. So you’ve got to fight hard and that’s what we’re doing.
‘But there is a lot of culture change going on because we’re strengthening the team; some tough things that we’ve had to do. We’re coming back.’
Looking ahead to the team’s power unit link up with Honda starting next season, Neale outlined that there is still much work to do not only for the Japanese marque but also for McLaren itself.
‘There’s a lot of work going on with Honda and the power unit…hardware is running, the clock is running, time is short. There’s a lot of work to do before we’re ready for January next year.
‘We’ve got our hands full with our current issues at the moment, because regardless of what power unit is in the car we don’t have the best chassis that’s out there.
'Obviously given the performance of last year and this year our immediate focus is what’s going on inside McLaren. So to some extent we are doing what we’re responsible for and sorting that out – of course with an eye on the horizon.
‘I don’t think any of us are under any illusion as to how challenging it’s going to be to go through another iteration of the re-packaging and go through a winter of all of the heat rejection stuff that we’ve all done, the packaging, the ERS etc. We’ve been through it once, we’ll do it again.’
But Neale also noted that the testing restrictions are not a hindrance to this preparation for the debuting of the Honda power unit: ‘I don’t think that the current lack of track testing is an impediment…we’re not ready for that at the moment to be quite honest with you. So even if we could go out and run a car that’s not something we would consider right now.’
Neale also played down the recent apparent ‘hurry up’ of Jenson Button by McLaren boss Ron Dennis.
‘I think he did the same thing to Ayrton Senna, I’m pretty sure he did the same thing to Kevin (Magnussen), if you listen to my phone on a daily basis you’ll be hearing the same thing to me.’