Getting to know: Matt Morris
We caught up with new Vodafone McLaren Mercedes engineering director, Matt Morris...
Can you define your role, and how you expect to fit in around the existing infrastructure in McLaren Racing?
“My new role as engineering director will allow me to get involved in all aspects of the car, from design concepts through to functionality at the track. Being involved with all the engineering groups will also allow me to develop the engineering processes we need to produce a fast and reliable car.
“I’m looking forward to fitting into the existing structure and working hard with McLaren Racing to strengthen the organisation. I’m really looking forward to working with Tim Goss and his team – there are a lot of incredibly experienced engineers within the current organisation, and I can't wait to start drawing off their experience. “
What have been your first impressions of the McLaren engineering capacity?
“There is no doubt in my mind that McLaren has all the right ingredients required to turn things around and get back to the front. I’ve seen from the outside that this is an extremely resourceful and motivated racing team, one that you can never discount, and we’ll be fighting hard to get back to the front.
“Of course, there’s a need to identify how the team dipped in competitiveness this year, but I’m already confident that the organisation has started making the changes needed to ensure this doesn't happen again.”
What are you looking forward to most about working at McLaren?
“Winning races! It’s clear that everyone here at McLaren has the desire to win – myself included – but, from the position we’re currently in, that won't happen overnight. There’ll naturally be a lot of hard work required from everyone, and I’m really looking forward to getting back down to work after some time off, and being part of the effort to restore our competitiveness as soon as possible.”
What's the most important task ahead of you?
“My first and most important task is to get around the organisation, meet everyone, and to see and understand exactly how things operate.
“We’re now understanding the problems we’ve encountered throughout this year, so it’ll be important to obtain as much information from the running of the car during this year to ensure we address all the issues ahead of the debut of next year’s car. I’m confident we can do that.
“Arriving at this time of the year will enable me to start getting heavily involved in next year’s car – that’s obviously a big positive for me. Ahead of the new season, these next six months will involve a lot of important hard work for everyone, especially for myself as I get up to speed with my new team.”
Talking of next year, how exciting, or how daunting, are the new technical regulations for 2014?
“Well, I don't do 'daunting'! The day I do will be the day I retire from Formula 1!
“In all seriousness, I think the next few years will be a very exciting period for everyone involved in F1. The new regulations and powertrain changes will be a huge challenge, but I’m really looking forward to being involved, especially because I’ll be working with a team that has the resource and capacity to really tackle those changes I’m particularly relishing the return of Honda as our engine partner in 2015.
As a motorsport fan, what exactly does McLaren mean to you? Do you have a favourite car, driver, a McLaren 'moment'?
“That's an easy one. The car, driver and moment all came together at once for me: I went to Donington in 1993 with my Dad for his 50th birthday present. Watching Ayrton Senna win that race in the MP4-8 is something I’ll never forget. However, I think I’m still recovering from the trench-foot we picked up on the day!
“McLaren will always stand for engineering excellence. Even now, when people mention McLaren, I picture the red and white cars from the 1980s and ’90s – I still think that livery was pretty special…”
What does it mean to be joining McLaren as it celebrates its 50th anniversary - indeed, starting your McLaren career on the actual day of the organisation's 50th birthday?
“Well, it was a very nice surprise when I found out.
“It really brought home, the heritage that’s associated with McLaren, and how privileged I am to now be part of it. Let’s hope we can all get things turned around quickly, and get some wins and more world championships back on the list of achievements.”