McLaren: Poor qualifying down to downforce "compromise"
McLaren Formula 1 racing director Eric Boullier says that the Woking team’s poor performance in qualifying in Montreal was down to having to compensate for the car's struggles in low-speed corners.
Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne both had a disappointing qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix and will start 14th and 15th as they were the slowest two drivers in Q2.
Both drivers figured near the bottom of the speed trap times as the team sacrificed straightline speed for more grip in low-speed corners, a weak point for McLaren in 2018.
Boullier compared the outcome with Bahrain, where McLaren also had a poor Saturday.
He said: "The car has a weakness this year which we have already pointed out.
"A low speed corner lack of grip. And obviously here you have only low-speed corners. I think the highest speed is 140kph.
"We knew coming here that it would be difficult, a bit like Bahrain characteristic, if you want.
"And to compensate for this lack of low-speed grip, we have to carry more wing, which means more drag.
"The best compromise for our speed level is to run more drag, more downforce, and that’s hurt us."
Boullier said that the team's current focus is to fix the low-speed grip issues, rather than switch attention to the 2019 car.
"I think it’s worth developing it [the 2018 car] for a couple of reasons.
"The first one is to understand what’s wrong, and to not repeat any kind of platform mistakes, if you want, in the future.
"And I think there’s is still time to develop the car, and potentially curing this low speed lack of grip could have a big impact on performance. So those are the two reasons we should carry on.
"We also need to make sure we don’t compromise next year’s development, as well as the understanding of the car.
"That’s a balance which we are working on. We are flat out on trying to cure this car issue, and make sure we understand it for next year’s car."
Boullier insisted that he still has faith in his technical team: "We have 100% confidence in the group of people we have at McLaren.
"We can blame some issues on the car, definitely the car this year is not the car we were expecting to have.
"It’s just a matter of understanding why, and making sure we have the right vision and, let’s say, some leadership for the future to make sure we can design and manufacture competitive cars.
"But I believe with the people we have in place today there is a great bunch of talent in McLaren."
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