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  • Writer's pictureTereza Černá

"Whenever they have a bad season, they drop a driver" - the issue with McLaren

As Will Buxton says in Drive to Survive: "Everytime they have a bad season, they drop a driver," and Ricciardo isn't the only evidence. Daniel Ricciardo has been dropped by McLaren after 2 seasons of struggling with the team, but he is not the only one. Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne all have a similair experience.

We kick it off with a few headlines:

"Why Sergio Perez failed during his one year with McLaren?"

"McLaren ditched Kevin Magnussen by email, on his brithday."

"Stoffel Vandoorn blames McLaren 'politics' for short Formula 1 career."

McLaren have been struggling for a long time now. The last time they won a world championship was in 2008 with Lewis Hamilton. After that, their struggles began. Even their successes in the last few years with Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo did achieve a handful of podiums, do not mean they have made it back to the top.

While Ricciardo had a successful career in F1 before McLaren, Magnussen with Perez after McLaren, Vandoorne was not so lucky. Stoffel Vandoorne was an absolute beast in junior formula and after winning the GP2 championship in 2016, he moved to McLaren for the 2017 and 2018 season.

McLaren was in their worst period in those two years, with even two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso struggling to score points, famously comparing the Honda engine to a "GP2 engine". It was no secret that the McLaren was the worst car on the grid.

Vandoorne was beaten by Alonso in both seasons. He had crashes and spun the car multiple times, altohough what can you expect from a rookie in an "undriveable car" (Alonso). He still managed to show some of his strenghts in the car, finishing in the points on his debut.

Later howeveer accusations came out about Vandorne having a worse car than Alonso, with Alonso himself contributing to these rumors. He revealed that "there's a fundamental issue with Vandoorne's car."

"I think he’s doing what he can. Definitely the last two races it seems that car has some kind of performance issue, and there are clear signs on the data that there is less downforce on that car" - Alonso in an interview with WTF1.

Alonso continued by defending Vandoorne and addressing the issues with the car: "A difference in setup is not the problem and the admission that the team has no idea what the problem actually is all but writes-off Vandoorne’s weekend. It’s a painful time for a once iconic team."

Vandoornes F1 career was cut short and he was never able to prove what he is actually capable of in F1. In an interview from last year, he blames his short career on the nature of F1 politics and the stuff behind the scenes that "the fans just don't see".

“You didn’t see everything that happened behind the scenes, all the politics,” said Vandoorne. “It’s not easy to drive at your best when you know the team is negotiating with other drivers behind your back." (PlanetF1)

It is no secret that Vandoorne deserved a longer F1 career. In 2019 he moved to Formula E where he raced with HWA and later Mercedes. In 2022 he became a Formula E World Champion. As of F1, he was the official reserve driver for Mercedes up until the end of 2022. Now, in 2023 he races in Formula E for DS Penske, is the official reserve driver for Aston Martin in F1 and for Peugeot Sport in the World Endruance Championship.

What McLaren aims to do is get back to the top, however they get frustrated everytime a driver doesn't perform even if the car is not being able to. We have seen that with many drivers, with some on them having their F1 career destroyed after McLaren.



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