McLaren are runners-up again after troubled start to 2011

2011 F1 season review

Posted on

| Written by

Button scored his third win of the year at Suzuka

McLaren got their 2011 campaign off to a dreadful start as the MP4-26 had a troubled gestation.

But by the start of the season they had improved enough to be Red Bull’s closest challengers.

They ended the season as runners-up in the constructors’ championship for the seventh time since they last won it in 1998.

McLaren’s elaborate ‘octopus’ exhaust system was at the root of the car’s troubles in testing. It was hurriedly discarded and replaced with a more conventional set-up in time for the first race in Melbourne.

It boded well for the team that Lewis Hamilton was able to finish second despite the 11th-hour changes to the car. When he won third time out in China, the team had realistic hopes of challenging Red Bull over the season.

McLaren team stats 2011

Best race result (number) 1st (6)
Best grid position (number) 1st (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 5 (3/2)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,108 (93.03%)
Laps led (% of total) 238 (21.01%)
Championship position (2010) 2nd (2nd)
Championship points (2010) 497 (454)
Pit stop performance ranking 3

It didn’t work out that way. Too often in the first half of the season they were frustrated by an inability to out-qualify Red Bull on Saturday or out-manouevre them on Sunday. This cost them potential wins at a time when the MP4-26 was arguably the faster car over a race stint.

Questionable strategic decisions, particularly on Hamilton’s side of the garage, compromised them further: failing to set a lap early in qualifying at Monaco, or putting on intermediate tyres in Hungary – though it must be said that Hamilton himself could and should have overruled these calls.

Hamilton also struggled to adapt his hard-charging style to the demands of less durable tyres. “I can’t go any slower,” he memorably told his team over the radio during the European Grand Prix.

Hamilton had several collisions, including this one with Webber

On top of that, Hamilton found himself embroiled in a series of needless clashes with rivals, in which he was more often than not the guilty party. He collided with Felipe Massa alone in Monaco, Singapore, Japan and India.

Added to that were further mishaps in Canada, Monaco, Hungary and Belgium with other drivers. But on his day Hamilton’s driving was top-notch as ever – whether he was chasing down and passing Sebastian Vettel to win in China, taking on Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber for victory at the Nurburgring, or breaking Red Bull’s pole position monopoly in Korea.

Without his litany of mistakes Hamilton could have been second in the championship, but it’s unrealistic to suggest he might have beaten Vettel with the equipment he had at his disposal.

Instead it was Jenson Button who ended the year runner-up to Vettel, with as many wins as Hamilton but twice as many podium finishes.

Button gave away less to Hamilton in qualifying than he had last year and was often more than a match for his team mate in the races. A virtuoso drive in Canada produced his first win of the year. He added another wet weather win in Hungary where, as in China last year, he avoided changing tyres while Hamilton headed for the pits.

The change of tyre supplier over the winter clearly played into Button’s hands. On several occasions he was able to make one fewer pit stop than Hamilton which usually worked to his advantage.

McLaren face the same problem as the rest of Red Bull’s rivals in trying to build a car that’s as quick as the RB7. But they have also identified areas to improve on the operational side, and here the recruitment of Sam Michael from Williams may pay dividends.

Testing revealed acute problems with the MP4-26

Errors such as giving Hamilton too little fuel in qualifying in Singapore, or too little time to set a flying lap in Q3 in Japan, or allowing Button to miss Q3 in Belgium, amounted to needless squandering of their potential.

The team has already shown signs of progress. Having been forced to retire Button after a pit stop error in Britain, McLaren were the quickest team in the pits in the final two races.

Six wins and second place in the championship is a lot better than the team might have expected back in February. But getting on terms with the champions will take more than just building a faster car.

2011 F1 season review

Browse all 2011 F1 season review articles

Images © McLaren, Red Bull/Getty images, Pirelli

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

59 comments on “McLaren are runners-up again after troubled start to 2011”

  1. It will always be one of those great unanswerable questions: if McLaren had produced the finished car earlier and not had to make late changes to get it competitive, would they have been able to match the Red Bull cars’ performance?

    1. I think, as Keith also mentions in his “closing statement”, that McLaren have simply not matched the operational excellence of Vettel’s side of the Red Bull garage, by which I mean getting everything right on the track, in the pits, and on strategy.

      1. @adrianmorse @dobin1000 That would also rely on Vettel doing a woeful job of his season which I don’t think would have happened under many circumstances at all.

    2. Not by a long shot.

      Sure, it could have been closer. But one look at the results page of this year shows you they were never going to make it.

      Hopefully Mclaren learns from this years, which by their own standards, has been very sloppy indeed.

      1. Part of me always wants to know just how big the differrence in performance is between the Red Bull and the McLaren, and to what degree it is Webber’s under performance that makes Vettel shine even more. Not saying Vettel has been bad or undeserving of this years title, that is clearly not disputable. But I just wish he had a team mate of the same ‘caliber’ (as Prost put it with Senna) to compare him too. Alonso I think would be best, given that Hamilton was so off form this season.

  2. Chris Goldsmith
    22nd December 2011, 13:02

    Half the problem for the McLaren drivers this year was the sheer dominance of Vettel. Vettel got virtually every ‘best finish’ in the Red Bull this year, while the McLaren drivers shared their wins between them. Had Vettel and Webber been sharing the wins between them, then a single dominant driver in the McLaren could potentially have won the WDC.

    Red Bull had as close as you can realistically get to a perfect season. It was the unflappable reliability of the car, the precision and skill of the mechanics, and the relentless speed of their star driver, which all came together to create a package which was almost unbeatable.

    I’m not a fan of the ‘what if’ game, but if the Red Bull were being driven by a pair of Mark Webbers, then we’d probably have a very different idea about where the balance of power lies in terms of the relative speed of all the cars. Vettel really did make all the difference in 2011. It will be a performance which will be extremely hard for him to repeat in 2012.

    1. Agreed. Having said that, Vettel’s form this year was absolutely stonking. Im convinced that even if he was driving a McLaren he’d win the WDC

      1. Chris Goldsmith
        22nd December 2011, 13:38

        My point exactly. The secret to beating Vettel won’t be down to finding some magic bullet with the car, but simply a general improvement in the performance of the drivers and the team. Sounds easy, but of course it isn’t. McLaren’s best hope is that Red Bull and Vettel drop the ball a little more than they did this year.

        The combination of a decent car, and every single member of a team, including the driver, maximising their potential in every area, makes for an almost unbeatable package.

        1. For disambiguation purposes what I meant was basically, Vettel would still be WDC if the two teams switched cars

          1. Of course. Maximizing everyone’s potential in a team creates a difficult team to beat but having the best car makes an unbeatable team. I think Vettel is clearly focused, organised and had an excellent team behind him but it’s all down to how good the Red Bull car was last year. Without that…

          2. Sebastian no question is a deserved world champion, and one ot the top drivers in F1 today, but to say that he still would have won the 2011 WDC if he was driving the MP4-26 is bit of a……stretch!!

      2. if he was driving a Mclaren maybe he’ll be a WDC but that depend on the driver who will replace him in the RB7
        if Karun Chandhok will be in his place in the RB7 then he will be WDC but if one of these drivers (Roseberg ,Sutil Shumacher, ,Hamilton ,Button ,Alonso )will be in his place in red bull i doubt that he will be WDCl

        1. Exactly. Hamilton drove shoddily at times, but had he been in a car also on pole he may have not made those mistakes and won. Looking at Alonso and Button’s seasons, had they maintained a similar quali advantage over Webber as Vettel had, they may have walked away in a similar, if not necessarily so spectacular, fashion. Had Vettel not been in the fastest car on Saturday, he may have struggled more often on Sundays, been back in the pack and made more Hamilton-esque mistakes. It’s impossible to say, but you can certainly say that Vettel, regardless of the car, was fantastic this year. Given what he had, he was as close to flawless as anybody could reasonably expect.

          1. @Matt90 100% agree. The advantage Vettel had on Saturdays dictated the season. Whether or not it was the car or just his supreme level of performance, this is where he won the WDC in my opinion. Without it he would’ve been exposed to a whole cocktail of other problems – undercuts, overtaking, team mate wars etc etc.

            Vettel was awesome this year, but in my opinion I haven’t seen enough to think he could win in a car that was on average 0.4s a lap slower than than the RB7, and at worst over 1s a lap slower. I seem to remember someone a lot better informed about F1 saying pretty much the same thing earlier this year – Ross Brawn:

          2. Yeah, the advantage Vettel had on Saturday sure made the difference. The advantage that HE brought, in the final run of Q3 when it appeared the Mclarens and RBRs were equally matched.
            He dominated Saturdays because he’s an amazing qualifier, nothing more.

    2. I can’t say I agree that if Vettel had driven a Mclaren he’d still have won the WDC to be honest. Button, and particularly Hamilton showed in Quali they were pushing the MP4-26 to the absolute limit, it’s just my opinion but I don’t think Vettel would have then been able to go out and get another 3-4 tenths more than them.

      The big question for me is if the MP4-26 had been designed around the outboard exhaust, which they quickly adapted for Melbourne, would it have been more competitive earlier in the year? I can’t help but think the answer is yes, so it would have been a lot closer to the RB7, which could have produced a totally different season.

      The exhaust position next year is going to be key again, I for one can’t wait to see the new cars in Jerez. Fingers crossed we’ll have a close fight from the off next yr.

      1. How exactly did they show that they were driving at the limit? Not saying they weren’t, just a real question.

        Button isn’t exactly a top qualifier, and you constantly see Hamilton making driving mistakes in almost every Q3. Things such as exit wheelspin, locked brakes, etc.

        While a ragged lap littered with sawing motions at the wheel, over/understeer, running wide, etc look quick and “on the limit,” theyre not.

        1. Just to clarify, I’m not saying Lewis is slow. He’s very fast. But he’s not the best at stringing a super hot lap together.

        2. @raymondu999 – In my opinion I think you can see that the drivers were on the limit for a few reasons. The first being you’ve got two world champions, and a driver who regularly outpaced Alonso in the same machinery, being separated on average by only around 2 tenths. That is remarkable consistency in the same car, conditions and tyres, so I think it shows that Hamilton & Button were pushing their absolute hardest.

          Secondly Hamilton often showed (and said as much in some press interviews) that he would go out and run the car ragged in the first Q3 run. Then in the second, with the info of his own lap and Jenson’s, would go out and try to beat it. But quite often he ended up not being able to do it, because pushing the car any harder often resulted in locking up or the other things you mentioned. This shows to me that he was literally on the edge of what the car could provide him with over 1 lap, not because he wasn’t smooth enough a la Vettel to get anymore out of it. I think Button showed that being smooth over 1 lap didn’t really get the most out of the MP4-26.

          Obviously there are exceptions to what I’ve said above, but those were my impressions over the season.

          1. Button is slower, there is no doubt about that. He is smoother. No doubts about that either. But that in itself doesnt mean that smooth is slower.

            For example, Vettel’s style is a whole lot smoother than Webber’s.

            Do Hamilton, and Alonso, often churn out supreme qualifying performances? Yes. They have 2 or 3 over a year. In my book Alonso is a very good qualifier, as is Lewis, but not an excellent one. He’s known for being calculating, and relentless in the race, not known for consistent supreme qualifying. My point here is that Vettel has 2 or 3 NON supreme qualifyings over a year.

            Just because Lewis couldn’t go faster in the 2nd run, it could mean that he went from a tenth off the car’s pace, to overdriving. It takes a lot of mental restraint to not overdrive a car in qualifying.

            For example, he had it in Malaysia but blew it by a lockup into the penultimate corner. He had 4 TENTHS over Vettel coming int the last corner in Hungary but blew it, losing all 4 tenths and more in the process.

            I say it again: Lewis is not consistently able to pull 100% out of the car on all corners of a lap.

          2. It’s funny, before McLaren I always thought that Button was a great qualifier. Things fell apart a bit at the end of 09, but to be fair the car was underdeveloped by then. And he was supreme at the start of that year, not to mention the poles he got at BAR. They may have been down to low fuel- I can’t remember well enough, but it seemed to me then that he was very capable of dragging that car forwards, beyond its race-position at least.

            Then he partnered Hamilton and no longer shone in that field- and I always though Hamilton was a very good qualifier too, which is why I wonder if he could realistically have done more over the past 2 years to grab more poles, or whether the Red Bull’s ultimate pace compared to the ultimate pace of the McLaren was the challenge (and Vettel being able to get so close to it).

          3. A quick thought I had while reading all the qualifying talk and combined with something I’m sure I heard commentators talking about. Consider.

            Every corner of the track has an amount of time to be lost when going for the best time in Quali. Lost because no driver can perfectly drive their car in the sense of getting the absolute maximum, they’ll be close but never perfect. The amount of time left on track is of course a combination of driver and car.

            All the numbers here are hypothetical and for demonstration purposes.
            The way I see most qualifying sessions this season was Seb would leave .002 on average at every corner, consistently taking the corners near the maximum.
            Jenson would leave a consistent .005 at each corner and as such was always just behind.
            Lewis would leave .001 on turn 1, .005 on 2, .003 on 3, .002 on 4 and so on, almost always somewhere between Seb and JB but never consistently getting everything out of the car.

            It’s impossible for me to verify any of this and chances are I’m talking rubbish. My point is that Seb and JB are consistent with their cars, Seb is mostly quicker than JB regardless of car in Quali IMO but Lewis is quicker still but he just can’t/hasn’t been able to do it over a lap this season except maybe Korea and even then I recall SV loosing some time on his best lap which could have been one of the few times he left more time out on track.

            Does this make sense? I think my head may already have left for Christmas.

      2. There have also been times when Vettel got pole when McLaren were faster. Monaco, Suzuka, etc. in those races it would have been an easier pole for a Vettel-driven McLaren

        1. Remember all the support in red bull was behind vettel the enfersis was just on one side of the garage thats ofcourse vettel

          1. Enfersis?

          2. @david-a

            I think he means Emphasis?

          3. @west prove it.

      3. Chris Goldsmith
        22nd December 2011, 14:23

        I think Vettel demonstrated again and again just how good he was during the qualifying sessions. Each time he went out in Q3, he somehow managed to find just that little bit extra. You can see the difference on the onboard laps; every apex hit, very inch of track used, the traction of the tyres exploited perfectly. Every one of his pole laps was a mesmerising demonstration of unflappable perfection.

        Do I think that he would have been putting half a second on the McLaren drivers in the same car? No, I don’t. And there’s always the possibility that it was the inherent stability of the RB7 which allowed him to put in such awe-inspiring performances. But it would be a brave man who could look at one of Vettel’s pole laps and try to say it was anything that the boy’s skill and complete understanding of the tyres making that car go as quickly as it did.

        Of course, it’s not possible to drive like that every lap without either making a mistake, or destroying the tyres, hence in the races the inherent qualities of the cars themselves became more obvious. And in that respect throughout the year the McLaren looked to at least be on terms with the Red Bull, but a combination of mistakes and misjudgements, plus a little unreliability, meant that the McLaren drivers weren’t able to consistently capitalize on their speed.

        1. “Amen” to every comment you’ve posted here, Chris Goldsmith! All very well said.

        2. @Chris_Goldsmith – I totally agree with what you’ve said about Vettel. This year he was incredible, particularly in Quali, I’ve looked back at a lot of the pole laps from this year, and they are awesome to watch.

          However I do disagree again about how close Mclaren were to the RB7 over the season. For me their were only a few occasions when the MP4-26 was even a match for the RB7 (China, Monaco, Japan, Germany) and fewer still where it was quicker (Korea). There were far more races where the Mclaren’s weren’t even close the RB7 over one lap, or a long stint (Australia, Turkey, Spain, Valencia, Britain, Singapore etc etc).

          Plus throw on top of that the fact that Vettel and RBR had a clear game plan of getting away in the first 10-15 laps and maintaining the gap from that point onwards. Rarely did we see Vettel pushed for an entire race by anyone, thus indicating just how much spare pace the RB7 had.

          Vettel was amazing this season, awesome. But for the reasons listed above I don’t think if he was in a Mclaren he would have still won the WDC.

          Now, if we’re going to make this controversial we can start asking what would the championship have looked like with Alonso or Hamilton in the RB7!!haha

          1. Funny you say Spain, as Hamilton was catching Vettel at 1.5s/lap in the last 2 stints…

          2. Chris Goldsmith
            22nd December 2011, 17:40

            I don’t think it’s anything like as clear cut as you say. For a start you need to measure the performance of the car by the performance of its drivers, and this is where it starts to get a bit murky. Like I said above, Webber failed at any point to demonstrate the supposedly incredible potential of the Red Bull. It was only thanks to Vettel that we got to see what the RB7 was really capable of.

            When you consider that, you need to ask whether the McLaren drivers managed to exploit the potential of their car as effectively as Vettel did with his, and the answer would almost certainly be no. Occasionally they did, and that resulted in six wins between them. Those wins came throughout the season, and on at least two occasions (probably more) in a straight fight with the Red Bulls. This doesn’t suggest that the speed of the MP4-26 was an occasional flash in the pan, or that it was only faster than the Red Bull at one point in the season.

            It’s a twofold thing. On the occasions (and there were many!) where the McLaren was beaten byt the Red Bull, it was a combination of a great, flawless performance from Vettel, and a slightly subdued performance from McLaren.

            In terms of absolute performance I would say there’s not really any evidence that the Red Bull was dominant in any significant way. We certainly didn’t see any real comparisons like we saw last year where the RB was flat through corners where the McLaren needed to lift. There were certainly differences in the performance of the car, with the Red Bull seeming to have good mechanical grip, and a fair bit of downforce, while the McLaren had fantastic straightline speed. The McLaren was also consistently easier on its tyres in almost all the races, meaning that the McLaren was stronger later on in the race, whereas the RB was able to quickly get its tyres up to temperature and exploit lots of grip early on. As evidenced by Vettel’s tendency to run and hide in the first few laps, before measuring his pace throughout the rst of the race.

            Certainly, there were none of the signs of dominance that other teams have displayed in the past, where the car was fast enough to finish 1-2 in virtually every race, and finish 30s down the road from everyone else. If the red bull had any real advantage, it was a couple of tenths at the absolute maximum. Amplified in qualifying thanks to a combination of getting the most out of the tyres over a single lap, and an almost robotically perfect series of qualifying laps from Vettel. But in the race the difference was very small indeed, with just a few seconds usually in it by the end. Even if the Red Bull was faster, it certainly wasn’t unbeatably so.

            To put it bluntly, McLaren had a race, and potentially championship winning car this year. By the third race they were on the pace of Red Bull. That they were defeated in the end was not down to a lack of speed, but rather because they failed to consistently extract the best out of the package they had, in a season where their opponents made so few mistakes you can probably count them on one hand. It’s not to take anything away from Button and Hamilton who both put in some incredible performances. Button finally seems to be delivering on his potential, and despite the mistakes there was certainly plenty of the old Hamilton magic. As a McLaren fan it would be easy for me to try and make out like the Red Bull drivers were just coasting around in their supersonic dream machines, while the McLaren drivers were doing everything they could to drive the wheels off a pair of four-wheeled bathtubs powered by Mulinex blenders, but the reality is that their performances let them down as much as, if not more than, their cars did.

    3. Really hope Mark finds his way with the car next year!

  3. Funny how they kept throwing away chances this year, something we were more used to seeing at Red Bull the year earlier.

    I can only hope both McLaren and Ferrari (and who knows, Mercedes and Lotus?) build cars that are able to beat the Red Bull car.

  4. In my opinion the two best drivers on the grid right now are Alonso and Hamilton. Despite Vettel’s domination this season, for some reason I just still don’t rank him as highly as Alonso and Hamilton, its like theirs something missing. Anyone else feel the same way?

    1. Maybe because Vettel gets outqualified less?

    2. No, since Lewis and has slipped in my view and Vettel has clearly risen.

    3. Hmm…let me think very carefully about that…


    4. Nah, I’d say that on their day, the three of them are on a par.

      Lewis had too many bad days this season and, other than early 2007, has usually struggled for consistency. Whereas Alonso and Vettel have been pretty flawless when it comes to racing. On 2011 performance I’d say Vettel/Alonso > Lewis.

      But 2012 is a new year and hopefully, Lewis will have more China/Germany/Abu Dhabi performances than Spa/Hungary/Malaysia.

    5. I feel the same way Faraz. Lewis’ and Alonso’s peak performances are always more spectacular even when they does not pole or win. Even with the mistakes and car disadvantages, you just can’t hide talent. Vettel is good, but with his huge car advantage and Webber not understanding the tyres, there is not really anything we can say about how good he REALLY is… I say RBR needs a top driver in the other seat, be it a Sutil, a Rosberg a Schumi, even Button.

  5. mika's_toolbox
    22nd December 2011, 15:36

    It surprised me when I realised earlier McLaren have won one WCC in the last 20 years, which is really quite something given how consistently close to the top they’ve been. It must be a worry for the top management – They always challenge, but can never quite seem to get everything right and have a near-perfect season as Red Bull, Renault, Ferrari, Williams and even Benetton have had in that timeframe.

    1. My memory’s rusty, but didn’t they win the WCC in the Hakkinen years?

      1. 1998 only, last one before that was 1991 when it was Senna and Berger.

        1. Yeah, in 1999 they lost the championship because of some really bad driving. In 2000 and 2008 they were pretty close and 2007 is a well-known story.

  6. I was suprised to see McLaren got more points this year than last year. I guess it’s due to the fact the Ferrari was more frequently behind.

    1. Or it could be simply two reasons ;

      McLaren generally & comfortably being the 2nd fastest this season unlike last year when they were 2nd fastest in ‘stints’ or ‘stages’,actually let me rephrase at times being argubly the quickest on Race trim(Spain,Monaco,Japan,Canada & Germany springs to mind)

      Having both Button & Hamilton consistently outscoring a Ferrari driver,who shall remain nameless & hasnt been on the podium at all this season .

  7. Hamilton also struggled to adapt his hard-charging style to the demands of less durable tyres. “I can’t go any slower,” he memorably told his team over the radio during the European Grand Prix.

    I have a theory that it might be the other way around, in a sense. Remember that Button finished two places behind his team-mate and had pace issues of his own in trying to save the tyres, which was down to the lack of rear traction on the McLaren.

    The Pirellis (or so I’ve read) were built to degrade in a “use them or lose them” manner. At the start of the season, this benefited Hamilton – there was little use in saving tyres for very long, because they’d fall apart anyway. He could drive just like he was on Bridgestones again.

    However, once the teams began to get on top of the tyre degradation – I’m guessing through set-up more than anything – we often saw Hamilton be the first driver to start sliding down the incline (no more falling off the cliff by then). It was around about this time that Button started increasing the edge in Hamilton in pace as well as race craft. At the end of the season we saw them yo-yo from race to race: Japan, Korea, India, Abu Dhabi, Brazil.

    Depending on what happens with the tyres next year, it’s going to be massively important for Hamilton to get his form back. It may be the difference between winning the WDC, barely beating his team-mate or watching him claim the top spot instead.

  8. Red bull had this electric wheel warmer, the heated metal cylinder that they used to heat parts such as the brake callipers and other parts of the wheel to prevent energy being taken from the pre-heated tyres when it is mounted, that gave red bulls car the advantage on the single lap, and at the start. Look at the gap vettel had on all the starts , from the first conner to the second he was leading by 2/3s that is where they won WDC.

    1. Chris Goldsmith
      22nd December 2011, 22:17

      Guess they must have forgotten to use it on Mark’s car, eh?

      1. I’m not going to necessarily agree with west in that statement although it’s possible there is a tiny element of truth within it. It’s a bit too simple and singular to be “where they won the WDC”. They won it in so many other ways, that may have just been a help along the way.
        With regards to Mark, had that reason actually been the case it’s not all that relevant to Mark’s issues which were 1. a terrible habit of ‘bogging down’ at the start and 2. not being on pole and being able to actually use that advantage (if there indeed was one)

      2. Well they did have two but Seb’s one broke, which went Mark went without.

        1. themagicofspeed (@)
          23rd December 2011, 23:06

          I wouldnt be surprised if it gets banned in short order, indeed i’d be very surprised if it’s allowed.

          I will find the article in the regulations, which i have in book format in front of me, the article making them illegal. At least, if i have interpereted it correctly..

    2. I believe you have found part of the reason why on the first lap, that Sebastian was able by the second, or in some cases the first turn to gap the field, which I always found amazing.

  9. Lets see if the changes, made to the musical chairs approach of alternating car design teams, will help them start the season flying.
    In recent times they’ve caught up only at the end of the season.

  10. Among the 5 big teams (Ferrari,Mclaren,Mercedes,RedBull,Lotus) I am expecting a lot from Mclaren as their driver line up is the strongest among the 5,they too have a good technical people in the garage next to Mercedes (acc to me),so I hope if BUT can carry his momentum & HAM stay out of trouble this team will do good in 2012.

  11. One of the key factors I believe is Adrian Newey’s input during GP weekends that have made the difference at the races where RB was seen to be at a disadvantage. Take Monza for example. Their strategy was to not to rely on DRS during the race but to ensure the car was able to hit the rev limiter to achieve optimal acceleration out of the corners. However, this configuration only works if RB/Vettel was at the front of the field and pulled away accordingly to mitigate DRS – which they achieved. McLaren tried a similiar strategy leading up to the race but lucked out from the fact that Schumi in the Mecedes was able to hold Lewis off at the twisty bits and made sure he had a higher top speed on the straights.

    This is where I think RB (and along with Vettel) got their advantage. Now obviously they needed to have strong car in the beginning, but the winning factor I believe was that Newey was the best man that knew what his cars could do and what configuration (and sometimes outside of recommended tolerances – RE: Perelli over-camber) could be used to combat the McLarens and others. That’s also what I think is missing from McLaren’s garage – Paddy Lowe is not as adept at synergising race strategy at each different track with his cars as much as Newey is able to.

  12. I really hope for a more competitive season next year.
    It would be nice to see 5 teams fighting for the podium, as it was in 2010
    (I remember several times Rosberg and Kubica in the podium)

    1. @tiagocomodoro Couldn’t agree more. Having a nice divide on the podium is always good.

  13. Bit of a mixed bag for McLaren this season.

    Let’s face it, Hamilton had a disaster by his own standards. He still managed to finish in decent positions, hence the 2nd place in the WCC but because he couldn’t keep his head down it made it look worse than it actually was.

    On the other hand, Button, wow. What a season for him. He capitalised as much as he could and couldn’t polarise Hamilton more. He was McLaren’s saving grace in my opinion, you knew you could rely on Button when Hamilton was going off the rails. That has undoubtedly resulted in a high level of respect from his superiors and rightfully so.

    They were never in a position to really challenge the RB7, well, Vettel. They recovered well from the disaster that was pre-season testing and we all know they have the capacity to adapt but RBR just ran away with it.

Comments are closed.