Hamilton: MP4-26 “an improvement”

2011 F1 testing

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Jerez, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Jerez, 2011

Lewis Hamilton described the McLaren MP4-26 as a “step forward” over its predecessor after driving it for the first time today.

Speaking to reporters at Jerez he said: “How it felt today was definitely a step forward.

“Whether that’s aero or mechanical, I haven’t yet identified exactly which part it is but it it’s a good thing that it feels good initially.

“My initial response was that it felt quite comfortable to drive and there’s certain areas I noticed particularly that were quite a good improvement on last year.

“We didn’t do that many runs today, we had quite a lot of programmes to get through. So I was really doing what a test driver would do: just go out and do this test, that test. We did that all day generally.

“The car feels good, it’s positive. My initial thought was it’s a good step better than last year so I was quite happy with it.”

He drove 58 laps in the car today but cautioned against drawing hasty conclusions: “We still have work to do, it’s very early days.”

He hasn’t used the adjustable rear wing yet and only briefly tried KERS: “I literally only used it in the last two or three laps we did. It feels exactly the same as it did in 2009.”

Hamilton said he still gets a buzz out of driving a new F1 car for the first time as he enters his fifth season with McLaren:

“I’ve been here five years, whatever it is. And it’s crazy to think – I remember the first time I got in a Formula 1 car, the excitement I had then – I still have that excitement now.

“When I walk alongside it and look at all the different things, the detail, see how it’s been put together, and know that’s my baby, that’s what I’m going to go out and try to tame. It’s still the coolest job and the coolest thing ever.”

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Keith Collantine
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49 comments on “Hamilton: MP4-26 “an improvement””

  1. Interesting they hardly used KERS and MRW.

    That might come tomorrow as they move through the program.

    1. Seems fair enough to me. Get the basics right first.

  2. I love Hamilton’s obvious enthusiasm with what he was saying there.

    1. When I walk alongside it and look at all the different things, the detail, see how it’s been put together, and know that’s my baby, that’s what I’m going to go out and try to tame. It’s still the coolest job and the coolest thing ever

      That just sums up Hamilton for me – he’s still just living his childhood dream (and who can blame him). He has the best job in the world and he’s not letting himself forget it.

      1. He’s such a joyful person!

      2. Hopefully the enthusiasm is a sign it’s not a -24, at least ;)

  3. Sounds to me like he’s making that up… don’t sound enthusiastic at all! more like making sure the sponsors think the car is fast… is this another mp4-19? i think so! :(

    1. Early days yet, don’t jump to conclusions. Remember last year’s tests? Sauber were up there with the RBRs and Ferraris and look where they ended up.

    2. why do you think so? the car has been on the track for one day and you already jump to this conclusion?

    3. That’s the feeling I get too mike, if it was really good I think he would be less reserved about it.

      1. Or not. For some reason I’m expecting McLaren to hide their hand more this year, and have one or more tricks up their sleeve. Last year was all about being open and above board, partly to show Button was going to adapt well to his new team and team mate and ensure their was no chance for media misunderstandings between the drivers. Worked in terms of the drivers, but McLaren were kind of flat-footed. Maybe wrong, but I think they’ll be throwing a big vat of red herrings until Bahrain.

        1. I believe all the teams are trying to be coy, but as we all guess the RBR, Merc, Mc and Ferr are going to “suddenly” get much faster, I have a similar feeling but that it will be the Ford F150 that crushes everyone in the first 5-6 races…

          My feeling is that Massa accidentally put in that low lap early thinking the other cars would run with low fuel… notice he never improved the lap time despite the track getting tackier as the day went on.

          They may be sneaky fast over a single lap this year; a change from years past.

      2. The 2011 cars are going to be slower than the 2010 ones. When last year the 2010 car was much faster than their 2009 car.

        Obviously that has an impact on how a driver reports about the car.

  4. “When I walk alongside it and look at all the different things, the detail, see how it’s been put together, and know that’s my baby, that’s what I’m going to go out and try to tame. It’s still the coolest job and the coolest thing ever.”

    Yeah Lewis, you got that right!

    I’m no fan of his, ‘chemical thing’ that is, just don’t like him talking about how outstanding his own lap was, but I’m glad he’s part of F1. Becasue he netertaines uis a lot!

    And the above quote..so true!

    1. netertaines = entertaines of course

      1. netertain: n. 1. enjoyment through use of the internet. 2. giving enjoyment by way of the internet. ** see also (internet) + (entertain)

        1. oops, netertain is a verb. Netertain: v. 1….

  5. Remebering that the MP4/25 was the best car he’s ever had (or something along those lines around 12months ago), the MP4/26 must be a out & out winner! ;)

    I hope this car makes sure Mclaren are pushing for wins, and that theres 3/4 teams that are capable of doing that as well. Noone likes a dominate team, as it isnt that entertaining.

    1. Naah. I never remember Lewis saying that the mp4-25 was the best car hes ever driven. I remember Fernando saying that about the F10 though.

      1. “Hamilton says MP4-25 the best car he’s driven”


        Ofcourse, that wasnt a championship winning car, and granted it was said after 3 races. Which means either Lewis is being honest, or he’s got a habit for exaggerating :)

        1. The Minardi was the best car Alex Yoong ever drove – didn’t make it the best car though! :D

        2. My bad. Never remember him making that statement. Any idea what he said about the MP4-24?

          1. Its cool, i just remembered he said something along those lines but couldnt remember where he said it (i was thinking it was during the testing but obviously that was wrong)
            With regards to the MP4/24, i dont remember anything but i imagine it would go something like a Hate it/Love it comments given the car changed some dramatically.

          2. He publicly called for the car to be replaced with a new design.

          3. @Franton. Yeah but he made that statement halfway into the 2009 season, and by that time the whole world knew the car was a stinker. I was hoping to get some of his pre season statements on it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was very happy with the car before the season started.

        3. After the complete dog that was the MP4-24, it’s hardly surprising he’d say that!

          1. Too true, i remember Eddie Jordan was probably more scathing of the car then Lewis was!!

      2. Todfod @
        Actually he did say the MP4-25 was the best he’d driven, and more than once I think, not sure if I believed him though, just trying to be positive mid season and hope for the best. He also added that even so the other team/s (Red Bull and Ferrari) were some distance ahead.

        1. Oops, what LHJBFTW said below.

        2. The MP4-25 WAS the best car he had ever driven. Certainly the fastest.

    2. To be fair to Lewis it was. Looking at the 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 qualy in Australia (same track and couldn’t be bothered looking at any others) the MP4/25 was the fastest. It just wasn’t as good relative to the other cars.

  6. I know we are not supposed to read way too much into these testing times, but if you look at the lap times on some of Mclaren’s long stint’s, they were pretty consistent and impressive. Considering that this was only their first day of testing in the new car, they actually looked really promising. I think on the last day of the Jerez test Mclaren will show their true pace.

  7. @mike I am guessing you mean the MP$-18 which eventually was never raced???

    anyhow it is interesting to see that Whitmarsh is doing a Ron Ron with this MP4-26 only at a much earlier stage of his command time at the helm of McLaren F1. so I can only hope this car turns out to be a revelation for all the right reasons. I also wonder wether the car was built around Jenson Button as he remarked in the mclaren video.

    1. Built around Jenson in the sense, that the Cockpit is made to fit him (with him being definitely bigger than Lewis it was a bit of a compromise last year), not making the car with only him in mind.

    2. No, he meant the MP4-19 which was developed for the 2004 season out of the 2003 MP4-18 which had failed it’s crash tests twice and was never raced, McLaren instead contesting the 2003 season with the MP4-17D version of the 2002 car. The MP4-19 was so bad in 2004 that it was replaced halfway through the season by the MP4-19B which was in fact a completely new design.

  8. Totally. I know he can be difficult at times, but it really seems genuine when he’s all excited about driving. When he says “I just love racing” I believe him.

    It’s just nice to see real appreciation and passion in a professional athlete.

  9. I immediately remembered that statement about MP4-25. That’s probably why this “improvement” doesn’t sound nearly as enthusiastic to me.
    However, it is April vs February, and of cours this is just standard pre-season chatting that Lewis is doing.

    1. I agree, but he wouldnt immediatly be screaming from the rooftops that it was the F1 car to end all F1 cars. I think its a case that the lads pretty good at flying the corperate flag for Vodafone Mclaren-Mercedes and trying to keep the sponsors happy knowing their money is making a fast car. Nothing wrong with that, its a small part of any drivers job.

      Although I think Lewis would be less loud if the car was a dog to drive, so its a case of reading into what he’s saying. Smoke & mirrors, as testing is to us all.

  10. I smell blood….

    Mclaren is playing catch-up on testing, lets wait till this weekend b4 we judge.

  11. I’ve been here five years, whatever it is

    You’re right Lewis. It really is crazy to think that this will be your fifth season. I still think of him as the 2007 rookie!

    1. My god, has it been five years…? just wow.

      1. Well, he’s just starting his fifth.

    2. Me too hey. Its crazy how time flies!

  12. Both Hamilton & Button have to pray that the car is reliable so that they can get as much as possible track time as they can as they are trailing the other drivers.

    1. I agree but yesterday they only did 58 laps.. Alonso on the first day of testing did 108! I wonder why they aren’t racking up the miles?

      I no its only testing and cant read into the time too much(Red Bull were hardly at the top of the testing times in the 2010 tests) but for some reason I am doubting the McLaren this year… it just seem far to much of a radical design.

      If my money was on a midfield car to fight for wins this year I would go with Force India.

  13. I don’t understand when people keep saying that Hamilton’s laptimes were disappointing. If you look at the timesheets, he was driving as fast as Massa and both were faster than Webber.

    Of course the results list only shows the fastest lap and indeed it doesn’t look like Hamilton tried to set a fast lap.

    The times actually shows Hamilton is on average about half a second faster than Webber. In the end that says completely nothing either. Webber might have been running with 10 laps wort of extra fuel and therefore he might be half a second faster.

    There is a variation of about 5 to 6 seconds depending on a full tank of fuel vs qualy trim. If you add tyrewear and KERS/rear wing usage it could probably even vary as much a 8 seconds.

    Waht on earth are you going to tell from the timesheets, let alone from the “fastest lap chart”?

  14. kenneth Ntulume
    11th February 2011, 12:43

    You have a good car until someone else, is faster than you!!!!!!!!!

    1. and even then it can still be the best car you have ever driven.

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