Key: No silver bullet for McLaren balance issues

Lando Norris, McLaren

McLaren technical director James Key has shed some light on the areas the team are hoping to improve on during the 2021 Formula 1 season.

The Woking-based outfit enjoyed an excellent campaign last year, finishing third in the constructors’ championship with 202 points, earning two podium finishes and taking a leap forward in terms of competitiveness.

Across the season McLaren were remarkably consistent and able to compete at all types of circuit, with the Russian Grand Prix the only occasion where neither driver was able to score points.

Analysing the progress they made during 2020, Key said that their strengths included high and medium speed cornering, while they needed to improve adaptability to varying weather and grip conditions.

“I think our strengths have been typically the high-speed corners,” he said, as reported by Motorsport.com. “Certainly from the beginning of the season, we were very competitive in the medium and higher speed corners.

“Straight line braking has been another strength of ours as well, which benefited us on some tracks – like Austria for example.

“I think in terms of weaknesses, we still need to improve ourselves a bit in low speed. It’s not quite as weak as it was, and that was one of the big pushes to try and improve that low speed, balance and consistency that we had in certain types of low speed corners.

“Then, in some conditions, the car doesn’t perform quite as well as we’d like it to – and that’s in some weather conditions or some grip conditions, which we can kind of see in the data.

“We need to understand that actually, but it’s not one of those overnight fixes. So that’s what we’re really targeting. I think if we can iron some of that out, we’ll have a more consistent car from one race to the next.”

One particular weakness that Key picked out in the 2020 McLaren was a tendency for the car to become unbalanced in windy conditions and he admitted that there was “no silver bullet” for solving this problem.

“It has been a bit of an issue for us,” he added. “We think we’ve pinned it down to one thing, which is just a characteristic of the car that we need to iron out.

“But with all these things, there’s no silver bullet – you just have to work on it. But there is an element of probably being a bit more affected by it than others, positively as well as negatively, depending on the direction of the wind.

“Every car, of course, suffers from this. Our drivers have said they’ve seen cars ahead locking up and having troubles as well [when it is windy], so I think it affects everyone.

“But possibly on occasion, when it’s been in the wrong direction or affected a certain corner a certain way, it has had a worse effect on us.”