Saturday November 3rd, 2001
By Alan Baldwin
McLaren have taken the steps needed to help them raise their game next season, according to the Formula One team's principal Ron Dennis.
But there will be no sweeping changes at the Mercedes-powered team, despite a troubled year that saw them finish runners-up to champions Ferrari for the third year in a row.
"Our objective is to win...there is no revolution," Dennis told reporters in an informal briefing ahead of Mercedes' traditional end-of-season party for their factory workers on Saturday. He said McLaren was already well into a "programme of detailed self-analysis of each of our operations.
"And it is being implemented on the basis that we just want to be better, we want to win races and we want to raise our game."
Dennis said that McLaren had put together a new technical steering committee and he was confident about the future. The committee was made up of Mercedes representative Hans-Peter Kollmeier, Mario Ilien of engine makers Ilmor, technical director Adrian Newey and McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh.
Dennis said the aim was to ensure a more focused technical approach.
DaimlerChrysler board member Juergen Hubbert ran through the difficulties of the last season and mentioned the saga of Newey's attempted move to Jaguar and the death of Ilmor founder Paul Morgan. He said all had unsettled the team.
"To finish second under these circumstances is not a catastrophe," he said, while adding that all concerned were still disappointed with the results.
Hubbert had suggested angrily at the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring that McLaren needed to introduce change across the board. McLaren won four races in 2001, with David Coulthard ending the year as runner-up to Ferrari's runaway champion Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher alone scored more points than the entire McLaren team. His brother Ralf, in a Williams, won three races as that BMW-backed team began to look like Ferrari's main challengers. Dennis painted a rosier picture of the future, despite recent stories of impending gloom as a result of the global economic slowdown.
"We know where we are going. We have for example 99.9 percent of our 2002 budget," he said. "Far more impressive, we have in excess of 90 percent of our 2003 budget, in excess of 85 percent of our 2004 budget, in excess of 80 for 2005.
"We have stability, we are supported by many blue chip companies who like us are facing a difficult commercial period but are rising to the challenge. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and we have been working hard since June to improve our performance," said Dennis.
"We are just bullish about the future and are very determined to achieve our goals."
Published at 09:12:29 GMT