McLaren have nosed ahead of the opposition in the past few weeks with Lewis Hamilton scoring a pair of emphatic wins at Silverstone and Hockenheim.
Testing last week suggested the team will keep their advantage at the next round in Hungary. Can Hamilton become the first man in two years to win three successive races?
After the German Grand Prix it was clear several particular innovations had handed the initiative to McLaren. Building a fast car is only half the job, however, and they will need to capitalise on their speed advantage.
The Hungaroring is a favourable track for that, however, as it is tight, aerodynamically critical, and overtaking is very difficult. Pole position is critical – hence the contretemps between the two McLaren drivers here last year the team will not want reminding of.
The team looked strong again in the four-day test at Jerez last week. Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest driver over the four days as McLaren became the first team to try their own version of BMW’s ‘antler’ wings mounted halfway down the front nose. They may make an appearance at the Hungaroring along with McLaren’s tested but yet unraced version of Red Bull’s ‘shark fin’ extended engine cover.
McLaren being fast doesn’t automatically mean Hamilton will win, of course, but Kovalainen has been struggling to stay as close to his pace in the second half of the season as he was earlier in the year. However Ron Dennis has resisted calls from the likes of Jackie Stewart to force Kovalainen into a supporting role to Hamilton’s title bid.
But McLaren definitely have the momentum at the moment and will want to capitalise on it this weekend ahead of the three-week break that follows which may give their rivals time to regroup.