McLaren changed its engineering mindset in 2014

McLaren Matt Morris

McLaren's engineering director Matt Morris is confident his team has learned its lessons from 2014 and made necessary changes to the way it works.

Despite high hopes at the start of the year, McLaren struggled to fifth in the constructors' championship with a car that was lacking downforce compared to its rivals. However, Morris believes the team learned a lot about how to bring performance to the car, focusing on driveability rather than relying on data from simulations.

"One of the main areas we focused on during the season was our mindset about how we actually perceive performance gains," Morris told the McLaren website. "What I mean by that is that, in the past, we've used some very mathematical models to tell us a new part is faster - and we've tended to believe that. Now, however, what we've been increasingly doing is looking at some of those aerodynamic concepts, and thinking beyond what the computer predicts as the laptime improvement.

"In other words, we've looked at them more in terms of overall driveability. The word 'driveability' has definitely moved up the ranks of our decision-making process as the season's gone on.

"And to give you a tangible example of that: at the start of this year, the drivers had complained about the driveability. We tried lots of things to resolve that, but we didn't really bolt something onto the car that made a difference until we got to Japan, where we ran a new front-end aero package. And that made a big difference.

"All of a sudden, the drivers were saying: 'The car's changed - it's better.' Increasingly, we're finding that if the driver likes it, he can use his self-confidence in the balance and handling to make the car go faster. That mindset was definitely a catalyst for us pushing further in that direction.

"What we've done is increased our envelope of understanding around the car - it's more holistic; we're looking at the car in broader terms - and we're making decisions on a more global scale. That's one of the big things that we've changed in engineering."

Morris said the team made big gains in the final races of 2014 and is confident those will give the team a solid base for the arrival of Honda next year.

"In general, the last four or five races were very positive for us. In those events, Jenson got absolutely everything out of the car, and kept his nose clean in the races. If you look at our competitiveness, taking Mercedes out of the equation, we were probably more competitive than Red Bull and Ferrari in the last four races. Going into the winter, it's good to know that we have that baseline, as that is what the MP4-30 is based upon."

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