Malaysian GP team-by-team: McLaren

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McLaren looked quick in practice but it all went wrong in qualifying. A damage limitation exercise on Sunday ensured they brought home some points, but much more should have been possible this weekend.

Jenson ButtonLewis Hamilton
Qualifying position1720
Qualifying time comparison (Q1)1’52.211 (-0.839)1’53.050
Race position86
Average race lap1’41.184 (+0.258)1’40.926
Pit stops11
Malaysian Grand Prix lap times - McLaren (click to enlarge)

Jenson Button

The McLaren drivers’ late appearance in Q1 gave them little time to get a clean lap in. Button at least managed to set a time quick enough for Q2 – unfortunately he got his car stuck in the gravel on the very next lap.

Button, like Fernando Alonso, found the outside line at turn one offered little grip and fell behind Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa at the start. Alonso passed him too shortly afterwards, and although Button re-passed the Ferrari driver he took an early pit stop and completed a 47-lap stint on the same set of tyres.

He had little grip by the end of the race and Massa was able to take eighth place off him in the closing stages.

Compare Jenson Button’s form against his team mate in 2010

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton spun on what turned out to be his only chance to get a lap done in Q1 on intermediate tyres – consigning him to 20th on the grid.

He set about making his way to the front of the field in characteristic Hamilton fashion, passing several cars and breaking clear of the chasing group of Massa, Alonso and Button. But he overstepped the mark by weaving on the straight to keep Vitaly Petrov behind and was fortunate not to get a penalty.

After his pit stop he closed quickly on Adrian Sutil. But despite being able to lap two seconds quicker, and with the McLaren’s F-duct providing a useful boost to his straight-line speed, he couldn’t get past the Force India.

Compare Lewis Hamilton’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Malaysian Grand Prix

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    32 comments on “Malaysian GP team-by-team: McLaren”

    1. It would’ve been very interesting to see if Hamilton could of done the same charge through the field without the F-duct. Every pass I saw him make was on the long front straight.

      1. Did you watch Monza 2008? Ahhhh…

      2. Well thats like saying, I wonder how many wins and 1-2’s Red Bull would have with out Newey? The fact is Red Bull has him, and Hamilton has himself an F-duct …

        … don’t forget some bloke by the name of Button has a fancy duct aswell.

        1. … don’t forget some bloke by the name of Button has a fancy duct aswell.

          Indeed. But I think even by the time he’d got past Alonso he was so far behind it was worth making the tyre change.

          1. Keith, i think what the OP is trying to say is that Button did not make the kind of charge Hamilton did through the field, given the fact he also had the F-Duct on his car.

            I think the effects of the F-Duct are overated anyway. Most of the cars are designed to have aero advantages over thier competitors. We just happen to know the name of Macca aero advantage.

            This weekend showed that the advantage can be marginal at best. All it takes to negate the advantage is for the competitors to run less rear wing (sure, this compromises them on the corners).

            The Renault was almost as fast on the straights as the McLaren, and the Force India was just as fast, if not faster!

            1. i think what the OP is trying to say is that Button did not make the kind of charge Hamilton did through the field, given the fact he also had the F-Duct on his car.

              True, and I’m not taking anything away from Hamilton, but he wasn’t behind both Ferraris early in the race.

            2. The F-duct is giving Mclaren a faster acceleration also, not just top speed, so even though a lot of cars were as quick as mclaren in the speed trap, it doesnt show the tru picture, the F-Duct is a huge advantage, and with that advantage mclaren put more wing angle on for better speed thought turns and still as high a top speed as every other car.
              And Hamilton didnt have to pass Ferraris at the start, which are the closest to being as fast in a straight as Mercedes powered cars. Look how Hamilton struggled with Sutil, perhaps he wouldve struggled just like Button to make up places if he was bening Ferraris after turn 1.

            3. [quote]The F-duct is giving Mclaren a faster acceleration also, not just top speed[/quote]
              This is clearly a laughable statement.If the F-Duct gave faster acceleration, it would clearly make a difference in ALL race sectors,and not only on the long straights.That’s why Macca only top the speed traps, and sector times that includes a long straight.

              As to your statement that Hamilton didn’t have to pass Ferraris at the start – I can only facepalm in amazement. As both Ferrari’s were in front of him on the grid, where else could he have passed them, if not at the start??
              As i said, he struggled with Sutil because the effects of the F-Duct are marginal – even Martin Whitmarsh confirmed this. The Force India has the same power plant, so engine output is the same, moreover, FI ran less rear wing in Malaysia. This gives them more speed on the straights, therefore the already marginal benefit of the duct is made even more marginal.

              Hamilton made up places because of his overtaking skills, and not because of any fancy duct. As already alluded to here, if it was the duct, then Button should have made many overtaking moves as well. Remember, Hamilton passed both Ferrari’s, and Button at the start, he also passed both Toro Rosso’s later, which the Ferrari duo were unable to do.
              In Australia, he was behind the Ferrari’s, and he got past them before his first pit stop, so that kinda negates your point about Button being stuck behind them in Malaysia.

    2. Hamilton has big kahuna’s he passes on the high speed corners as well. Not something you see other drivers do often.

      1. Although I do distinctly remember Alguersuari pulling of a move on a Hulkenberg going into turn 5 that was equally impressive as Hamilton’s.

        1. more so, Hamilton was through before the corner, Alguasari was way more risky.

    3. I think Hamilton must have big kahunas, have you seen how long he spends adjusting his lunchbox each time he gets in the car?

      1. He must be pressing them against the F-duct if he’s quicker down the straights than JB!

    4. Any word on why Button pitted so early?

      1. Because he made a mistake picking the softer tyre 1st and was going backwards quickly (just like OZ) didn’t really have a choice.

    5. button as we can see, sanks at the last stint… lewis is so so fast, and obviusly faster than jenson, but his behavior will be a setback…

    6. I belive Hamilton is faster, but Jenson is a smarter racer. Either he’s there or he’s not, kinda like last year. When his car suits him and he’s up front he is untouchable, like in OZ….

      1. Most drivers would be “untouchable” when the car “suits” them. Great drivers do not wait for cars to suit them to show brilliance!

        If your above statement is true, then Button will likely never be WDC again. Drivers do get smarter, but rarely get faster. This is something that is unteachable. You either have it, or you don’t.

        Hamilton WILL get smarter, but will Button get faster? I doubt it.

        1. kbdavies is a Hamilton fan-boy!

          Looked at his other comments, all was Hamilton is best stuff…. Get off your white horse!

    7. Ahhh…posted in the right section.
      On a different note, anyone notice that Button is always complaining about not being happy 100% with his car, or saying there are still some things he is uncomfortable with? Since when was any driver 100% happy with his car?

      He seems to be looking for perfection with the team and with the car. This has already led to McLaren destabilising Lewis in their quest to make everything perfect for Jense – like changing an engineer he has worked with for 3yrs, and using him a a guinea pig to cover strategies.

      Also, by allowing Jense to make the first pit stop (twice now), they will always be putting Lewis on the back foot – Otherwise we might see both Macca drivers trying to outfox each other in who makes the first unplanned pit stop. Hardly the right strategy

      Jensen’s inability to get to grips with a car -unless it is perfect and he’s absolutely happy with it further underlines his shortcomings. The Brawn GP car last yr was an anomaly. Most cars are not perfect, and will never be. It is down to the driver to extract the most from it.

      People like Lewis/ Alonso/ Schumi/ Senna dominate a car irrespective of its problems. They simply drive round the problems.
      Lewis did it last yr, Alonso showed how its done in Malaysia, Schumi did it with Jordan on his debut, and with Ferrari in the early years, and Senna did it with McLaren in 1992/1993.

      1. You are way off re. the team favouring Button on strategy and putting Lewis on the back foot. As we now know from the Bridgestone report, in Australia the team made the right call to bring Lewis in because his tyres would not have lasted the distance. Sadly for Lewis his aggressive driving chewed up his tyres.

        In Malaysia, Jensen was on the reverse strategy to Lewis and started on the options. Finding himself stuck behind the Ferrari’s made the call to come in early on lap 9 when he had free air in front. Unfortunately, this meant he had to do a 47 lap stint on the harder tyre, making him a sitting duck for the Ferrari’s on their fresh softs later on. Jensen admitted it was the wrong decision after the race.

        Both were his calls. One worked for him, one didn’t.

        No favouritism, no conspiracy.

        Also, there is more to racecraft than simply hustling the car around a circuit as fast as possible. Push the car too fast for too long and something will give, be it tyres, brakes, gearbox, engine, whatever.

        I agree Lewis more gifted and has the potential to achieve greater heights than Jenson, but I also think he could learn a thing or two from him.

        1. @Burt –
          I just don’t get this Lewis “aggressive” style vs Jensen’s “smooth” style. To overtake many cars, you have to be aggressive.
          In both races Lewis did more overtaking than Jenson, so yes – we can say he was more “aggressive”,. and yes – his tyres should be in a worse state. This is hardly rocket science!

          One overtakes, the other is incapable of it – and please dont use Brazil 09 as an example. It further underlines Jenson’s shortcomings if 1 race in his 10yr F1 tenure is all we can find of his overtaking ability.
          It is not about driving style, it about attitude. It’s not about racecraft, it’s about ability.

          Jensen’s so called racecraft has never got him anything in his 10 yrs in F1. The Brawn car was simply much better than the opposition in the early part of last yr. Once things settled down, and the others caught up, his “racecraft” counted for nothing.

          We can then argue that if all Lewis can do is hustle a car around a track as fast as possible, it has brought him within a championship point of the WDC in his rookie year, won him the WDC in his 2nd yr, won hip GP’s and poles positions in his 3rd yr in car that was so bad, it started regularly at the back of the grid.
          This “hustling ability has also made him the highest points scorer in F1 since he entered the sport. I’ll take his hustling anyday over Jensen’s racecraft.

          Is Lewis any more aggressive than Alonso, or Schumacher? I doubt anyone would say so. Is he a better overtaker? – probably. In Australia, Lewis earned his final position by overtaking throughout the race, Jenson earned his by a pit call. Any wonder his tyres were in a worse state than Jenson’s? Also remember, Jenson had chewed his tyres early in the race – that’s why he came in, (he said this himself)

          Also, If Lewis is so “aggressive” than Jenson, In Malaysia, how come he was only the second last to pit on the Hard tyres (Alonso last)?, after using them far more than anyone else in the race (overtaking)? How come he was also able to make his Soft tyres last from lap 30 till the end of the race? Like other drivers around him.
          Remember, Jenson used his hard tyre for only 9 laps, and came in to change them, saying he wasn’t getting anywhere.

          I never said there is favouritism or a conspiracy, What I’m saying is that McLaren are making a very determined effort to send out politically correct messages regarding driver equality. And, in the quest to make Jensen “comfortable”, they run the risk of destabilising driver dynamics within the team. This is already starting to happen.

          Also, it has never been McLaren policy to let the driver call the pit stops, but quite clearly, that is what has been happening with Jenson. It is a slippery slope once started.
          As Keith pointed out I one of his articles, we could start seeing regular scenarios where a driver in a position takes it upon himself to pit before his team mate does to gain the benefit of being the first to pit.

          1. One overtakes, the other is incapable of it…

            That’s a load and a half. When has Button proven to be incapable of overtaking? I remember in Autralia Button had no problem getting past Kubica but Hamilton was “incapabable” of getting past…

          2. Lol @ your reply.

            You are obviously a huge Lewis fan. You don’t have to tell me how great he is, I recognise the talent. But why the vehement Button bashing? Is it frustration or insecurity on your part because Lewis hasn’t blown him away yet? You make a lot of disparaging remarks, but for all his shortcomings Jensen is an experienced racer now, and consider this; He won the WDC in the only season he had a winning car.

            I don’t agree with your ‘destabilising driver dynamics’ comment. If you mean having parity and no longer being the preferred driver is having an adverse effect on Lewis, then it’s a weakness on his part, and something he must address. I guess going from outright No.1 to equal status is difficult to deal with. I recall another McLaren driver in 2007 had similar issues.

            Also, don’t agree with your comment that allowing Jensen to pit first (twice) has put Lewis on the back foot. In what way? In both cases Jensen made the call himself, and in both cases it was a bit of a gamble. It worked out for him in Oz, but not at Sepang.

            I don’t see how either call put Lewis on the back-foot as you claim. Imagine if they called Lewis in on Lap 5 in Oz and he spun off the wet track!!! Imagine if they called Lewis in on lap 8 in Sepang? He would have had to do a 48 lap stint on the options !!!! Are you nuts?

            (re. Sepang. Just to correct you again, Jensen chose to start on the options (softs). Losing out at the first corner and getting stuck behind the Ferraris killed his race. Like yourself, I was impressed and quite surprised with Lewis’ pace on the primes and how much he got out of them. Thankfully, the team made the right call not to bring him in on lap 8!)

            And what exactly is your problem with drivers having input re. strategy? This is common and I think it’s a good thing. It adds another variable and puts the outcome more in the driver’s hands – we don’t want robots driving the car. Maybe you recognise this is an area where Jensen may have an edge over Lewis?

            In Australia, Jensen said he had no intention of making a 2nd stop. He had obviously planned for every senario and drove the car accordingly to the one that arose.. What plan did Lewis have after his first stop? Did he even have one at all? Did it occur to him that if he drove so aggressively it would necessitate a 2nd pit stop? Is he incapable of driving strategically when the need arises? Does he only drive flat-out?

            Let’s reverse the senario. If Jensen had come out in the pack, would we have seen him charge through the field ala Lewis? I doubt it. I believe if Jensen couldn’t get past the cars ahead, he would have weighed up the situation and preserved his tyres to get to the end without having to make another stop, settling for 3rd/4th place. Which would have gained him more points than Lewis’ eventual 6th (or 5th, notwithstanding Webber). Not as spectacular, I’ll admit, but a better net result for himself and the team.

            As I said before, there is more to racecraft than simply hustling the car a quickly as you can. Especially with these new regulations you need to know when to push, and when to preserve. Unfortunately for Lewis, you don’t get points for overtaking, otherwise he’d have an unassailable lead after the 3rd race!

            Points for finishing position only – and the faster guy doesn’t always finish ahead of the smarter guy. Jensen is being ‘creative’ with strategy because he recognises (as we all do) that Lewis will be hard to beat on pace alone. What’s your problem with that? (apart from it gives him a better shot at beating Lewis).

            Speed + Intelligence > Speed

            1. post above @kbdavies, not Stephen, sorry.

            2. Burt, you seem to miss the point, and I’m certainly no a Lewis fan per se. Doubt the same can be said about you re Jenson. I’m a fan of ballsy gutsy drivers – Senna, Schumi, Montoya, Alonso, Lewis, who give their all, all of the time.
              There is no Jenson bashing here, he may be a likeable guy, but let’s not compare him to Lewis in any way – Massa has outscored Alonso, but i doubt anyone in his right mind would compare them as drivers!.
              Even with Jenson’s “race craft” and “intelligence” and Lewis presumed lack of it, when it’s all shaken and stirred, Lewis still comes out a better driver. That’s just an obvious fact.

              Yes, you do not get points for overtaking, but you also dont need to have a WDC to be rated highly. A driver’s overall ability determines his stock within the F1 industry – Just ask Vettel and Kubica. Vettel has not won a WDC yet, and is not renowned for his overtaking, but I doubt any team principal in his right mind would take Jenson over Vettel. This speaks volumes about his stock within the paddock.
              That’s why Ross Brawn was willing to let go a guy who had just won a WDC for them in favour of a rusty 41yr old who had being out of the sport for 3 yrs! Remember, WDC or not, Jenson would probably be in a midfield team at best, and a backmarker team at worst, if not for McLaren.

              What grates me is that Jenson is overrated, and his smoothness is overrated. Ross Brawn knew this, and most people in the paddock also know this. He is most comparable to Webber, not as good as Massa, and definitely not comparable to Kubica, Vettel, or even Rosberg.
              Remember, he is not the first overrated driver to win a WDC courtesy of a car miles ahead the opposition – and we know what happened to those drivers!

    8. Im pleased so far to see that Jenson is holding his own against Lewis. I think we’ve definitely seen more overtaking and raw speed from Hamilton, but Button has employed some great race-craft thus far and he isnt getting SLAUGHTERED like we (or at least I) thought he would.

    9. Yeah, definitely Button is holding better than many thought. And I doubt McLaren is favoring him, most likely they sided with Hamilton again like in the Alonso days. Button is just voicing his opinions on strategy to the team and pitting when he think it is right to.

    10. McLaren wouldn’t be siding with anyone I’m sure,
      As for this Button vs Lewis, Lewis is faster, that’s fairly obvious, but Jenson isn’t exactly slow? as for smarter? well, Jenson lucked into his OZ win, not that it is any less admirable though,

      Lewis’ big flaw in my book, is the ease in which he will get angry at his team, How does everyone think he would fair outside of the team that reared him?

      Personally I prefer Button, Lewis is a PR man (except when he is busy doing burnouts) and I don’t like PR men.

    11. There was definitely luck involved in Jenson’s Oz win. But he made his own luck, so we have to give him credit. You always look smart when the gamble pays off, and not so smart when it doesn’t – as in the following race. But this is what he needs to do to try and gain edge over Lewis as he won’t beat him on pace alone.

      How Lewis would fair in another team? Difficult to say. If he was the No.1 driver, with the whole team focussing on him, then possibly OK.. Interesting reading Martin Whitmarsh’s revelations about how Lewis was ‘an experiment’, and how McLaren now farm their young drivers’ out to lesser teams so they can experience failure and hardship for a few years.

      I also wonder what his team and the other people in the paddock really think of him? I agree, he does tend to have a go at his team, while at the same time saying how he drove his heart out. (thereby, indirectly having a go at the team for a poor car/strategy). His now infamous ‘monkeys at the back’ remark before Monaco ’07 obviously didn’t endear him to his fellow drivers, and really showed an underlying arrogance, especially for a rookie. I think their lack of sympathy for him over the Spa incident in ’08 was proof that he’s not the most popular guy.

    12. @kbdavies, Wow, you say I miss the point, I think it is you who is avoiding it.

      I initially replied to your post re. some comments you made about:

      1). The team favouring Jensen in pit calls, putting Lewis on the back foot.

      2). The team destabilising driver dynamics by giving Jensen parity.

      3). Your disapproval of drivers having input in strategy.

      I gave you my thoughts and elaborated as to why I disagree with you…

      Yet, instead of replying and addressing my comments – you post a load of completely unrelated, unsubstantiated, opinionated statements illustrating how Lewis is so great, and how Jensen is so crap!!

      Then you claim you are neither a Lewis fan, nor a Button basher!!

      Really finding you a bit tedious. This thread is McLaren Teammates 2010. You made these comments, I’m asking you to expand on them. Please stay on topic, respond to the 3 points above – no more blah, blah, blah. Thanks.

      1. Burt, don’t waste your time. Every post of his proves he’s a Hamilton-Fanboy, and a Button-Hater to boot. I suspect you may be engaged in a adult-to-child dialogue here.

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