McLaren CEO Zak Brown says that the team is aiming to learn why Stoffel Vandoorne struggled so much in 2018 in order to avoid a similar situation in its new recruit, Lando Norris.
Vandoorne failed to out-qualify teammate Fernando Alonso across the course of the season and scored points on a rare occasion. However, McLaren's MCL33 was by no means competitive, as it failed to successfully develop it throughout the season.
In September, McLaren announced that Norris would replace Vandoorne in 2019. But Brown is hoping that Norris doesn't have similar issues to Vandoorne next year, and says McLaren is working to figure out where it went wrong.
“We recognise that someone like Stoffel is an extremely good race car driver and for whatever reason it didn’t work out,” said Brown. “We take some responsibility for that and want to understand why this driver with such a great pedigree didn’t work out. We don’t want to replicate that, where we may have got that wrong or contributed to that lack of success.”
McLaren appointed a new sporting director this year in the form of Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran. Brown says that part of the idea of bringing de Ferran in was to help improve the performance of the drivers at the team.
“One of the things that I would recognise is I think we need some additional racers in the McLaren family. If you look at Gil’s pedigree first and foremost as a driver, the as an IndyCar team owner, and as a sports car owner, he’s got a well-rounded understanding having won championships with Roger Penske what success looks like from many different aspects including sitting in the cockpit.
“One of [de Ferran’s] primary roles is to make sure that everyone gels including the driver and so he’ll be spending time both with Lando and Carlos [Sainz] making sure that we give them the best environment to work in.”