McLaren wary of Red Bull threat at Monza

2012 Italian Grand Prix

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McLaren sporting director Sam Michael expects Red Bull to be more of a threat at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Speaking during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in Michael said “in reality, Red Bull under-qualified” at Spa.

“If you look at the pace and the fact that could come from outside the top ten to second and beat [Kimi] Raikkonen who was very competitive, that shows you that the Red Bulls actually had very good race pace.

“But they just under-qualified and they don’t normally do that so I would expect Red Bull to be up there and fighting for the front row as well.”

Michael added McLaren are not getting complacent about mastering the challenges of Pirelli’s tyres. “Although we have started to get a good handle on the tyre I felt confident to this level about the tyre earlier in the season and then things shifted again,” he said.

“I’m experienced enough to know that when you think you’re on top of something it normally means you’re not. You’ve got to keep all your R&D programmes continuing to keep understanding all the things that are happening.

“Even in Spa although we were dominant and had a good, strong weekend, we still had issues that happened during practice even on Jenson [Button’s] car to do with tyre performance that we are still studying. So I don’t think there’s any correlation with the tyre compound and our upturned pace, because it was there in Budapest.

“Also I don’t actually think we’re in a dominant position because we’re in this unique drag level area and it’ll take until we get back to Singapore to fathom out where everyone’s going to be for the rest of the year.

“I think Singapore’s probably going to give a better guide than these circuits. I don’t think the tyres will change very much – all that’s really happened is people are understanding them better.”

2012 Italian Grand Prix

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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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24 comments on “McLaren wary of Red Bull threat at Monza”

  1. I never knew how much of a comedian Sam Michael was.

  2. If we’re talking about teams that underperformed at Spa, then McLaren should be wary of many teams. Ferrari, Williams, Sauber and Red Bull (at qualifying) generally didn’t manage to do what they should’ve done.

    1. To add, I think it was all due to the wet weather (almost as usual) that the teams had limited knowledge on gear ratios & setup for both the race & qualifying, obviously creating the renowned unpredictability of not only Spa but this season as a whole. If anything, It reminds me of Australia & earlier in the season when someone on here suggested the reason why McLaren had the advantage they had was because they knew how to use the tyres better than others.

    2. You are right, McLaren should be worried about all of those teams and also about the weather. Sauber and Williams had a realy promising qualy pace, Ferrari and RedBull had great race pace. And we should not forget that even without the ‘Device’ Lotus still has a good chance as the higher temperatures will help them the most, also it can hinder the performance of Ferrari.

      One more thing, we can clearly say that Sauber and Lotus are the bests at making the tyres work, they might have a realy good chance at a track that punishes the tyres the most.

  3. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    6th September 2012, 15:04

    @keithcollantine hey your title is wrong, this one is more accurate:

    “McLaren wary of Hamilton’s tweets threat at Monza”

    1. Not really appropriate as they discuss the opposition of McLaren … But who could argue McLaren has been McLaren’s main rival this season ?

      1. Exactly, they have thrown away more points in the pit stops than some teams have accrued all year!

        1. hmm not just that, there was also the massive lag in development – which isn’t just showing in Lewis and Jenson’s standings but also the 50+ point gap behind RBR.

  4. I think much of this is to do with Red Bull’s 2011 and 2010 pace and not necessarily the RB8.

    Monza is typically a weak circuit anyway for Red Bull.

  5. i think renault and ferrari are likely to be more of a threat. mclaren should get a 1-2, but many have been saying that for the past 5 years and it never goes to plan for mclaren.

  6. I think he’s right, personally I think Red Bull just didn’t get their set-up right at all in qualifying, as Vettel was saying he wasn’t able to push through the middle sector. I expect them to be podium contenders, but I’d be a fool to doubt that McLaren are looking very strong indeed.

  7. As I said before, I’m expecting a Red Bull vs. McLaren thing and I’m betting my money on Hamilton for the win from Vettel or Button.

    Something tells me Maldonado will crash into Webber and be banned for Sinagapore round :) #justsaying.

    1. My predictions are the same.

  8. Mclaren are more than favourite, that set-up they found at SPA may hold the key to future races like Sam Michael said, just watching the car it seemed like the grip came from the center of the car, the car understeered and oversteered very little, noticing that i went back to watch the 2010 onboards and i found the same type of comfort driving.

  9. McLaren doing Ferrari? :)

  10. I can’t see RBR being as successful at Monza this year as they were in 2011. Admittedly their design philosophy hasn’t changed much and they still will favour corner performance over straights but I can’t see them enjoying such an advantage this year. It would be brilliant if they did though.

    I don’t think you can really use the term ‘under qualified’. All teams have the same opportunities presented to them and it’s no ones fault but your own if you can’t capitalise on your qualifying performance, it takes more than a fast car.

  11. Who is good on heavy braking and top line speed, that will answer the question of who comes out on top.

    Button has always gone well on long low DF straights and heavy braking, Hamilton has been amazing at Canada, so I expect a very strong weekend from Mclaren, a good chance of 1 – 2 unless they much up set-up again.

    RBR are normally weak on this configuration a part from last year.

    1. *muck* not much

  12. It still baffles me why RBR continue to be the slowest on the straights. Unless you get pole & get a nice early buffer it makes for a very hard race. How many times have we seen the RB in the draft with the DRS open and still not able to pass… NIce to see Mark voice up and tell them he needs more top end to compete on Sundays.

    1. their aero map.

      It could be that if they alter their setup, to favor more top speed and less downforce for the corners, that the cornering losses are bigger than their drag gains. (ie the car is only competitive with the way it is set up)

      1. This maybe true over a single timed lap however when you find that over 50% of races (Sepang, China, Barcelona, Canada, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Spa, Monza, Yoengam, New Dheli, Yas Marina & Austin) all feature really long straights & DRS zones then it is somewhat foolish to heavily favour mid corner speed over top end speed. The balance is all wrong and clearly no other team supports this methodology else you would see all the other top teams follow suit.

        Sitting ducks when your up to 10-15 kph down on your rivals.

    2. Drop Valencia!
      7th September 2012, 8:33

      If you are talking about the top speed in the DRS zone, that is dictated by the top gear ratio, and RBR are running shorter gearing to give better acceleration everywhere else, it is a trade off.

  13. “I’m experienced enough to know that when you think you’re on top of something it normally means you’re not.”

    ^ rofl

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