McLaren says it has outlined a “road to recovery” strategy to target race wins and contending for the Formula 1 world championship again within the next five years.
The Woking-based outfit has gone six years without a victory and 10 years since its last drivers’ champion, with the V6 hybrid era proving a problematic period for the team.
A sixth-place finish in the 2018 standings was overshadowed by a failed attempt to return to competitiveness in a new engine partnership with Renault, with McLaren on average the second slowest car on the grid.
Although a number of changes have taken place behind the scenes – and a new driver line-up is in place for next season – McLaren CEO Zak Brown remains coy on a short-term fix but is optimistic the team will rediscover its championship-winning form in the near future.
Asked if he had a specific timeline for when McLaren would be back at the front of the grid, Brown said as quoted by ESPN: “I have just presented a five-year plan, and within that plan, we think we have a journey to get back to winning races, and then once you’re winning races, you’re competing for the championship.
“I think it’s critical that Liberty makes changes to the sport because, right now, the way the sport is going, it’s difficult for more than two or three teams to compete for the championship, so I think there are things that are out of our control, but hopefully we can influence that need to change for multiple teams to be able to win races and compete for the championship.
“We have laid out a journey and investment, a road to recovery that sees us getting back to the front of the grid in that timeline.”
Following its split with Honda at the end of 2017, McLaren headed into this year believing podiums were a realistic target, which, ultimately, failed to materialise.
In light of this, Brown insists he aims to steer clear of setting any specific goals for 2019.
“I think we want to stay away from making predictions,” he added. “We know that it hasn’t been pretty for the last couple of years, so we don’t want to make that mistake again.
“I would say our expectation is that we will continue to make a step forward. … We had 15 [grid-place penalties in 2018] as opposed to a few hundred, so this year was a step forward, although not the step forward we had hoped to make.
“So our expectations are that we are going to continue that journey in 2019, but I want to stop short of saying where that will be in the constructors’ championship. I know where I hope to be, but I don’t know where we will be until we hit the ground running.”