Unreliability and poor pace costs McLaren title lead (McLaren race review)

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2010

Lewis Hamilton lost the lead of the drivers’ championship and McLaren surrendered first place in the constructors’ rankings after a poor showing from the team in Hungary.

Jenson Button also had a bad weekend, failing to reach Q3 again and struggling to keep up with the Saubers.

Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton
Qualifying position 11 5
Qualifying time comparison (Q2) 1’21.292 (+0.415) 1’20.877
Race position 8
Average race lap 1’27.940 (-3.449) 1’31.389
Laps 69/70 23/70
Pit stops 1 1

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Jenson Button

The qualifying problems that blighted the second half of Button’s 2009 campaign have returned. He failed to make it into Q3 for the second time in three races, saying the car did not have the kind of grip in qualifying it had in practice. He made two attempts to get through Q2 using the super-soft tyres – his team mate only needed one – and couldn’t improve on 11th.

It got worse at the start of the race, as Button was crowded out at turn one and slipped to 15th.

He managed to pick up a place from Liuzzi but was then stuck behind the brake-troubled Schumacher. The team elected to pit him early, which gained him four places when the rest of the field pitted en masse behind the safety car.

He spent the rest of the race between the Saubers but looked more likely to come under threat from Kamui Kobayashi than apply pressure to Pedro de la Rosa.

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

Lewis Hamilton

Qualified fifth on the grid which Martin Whitmarsh dubbed “best of the fixed-wing cars”, alluding to the flexing front wings on the Red Bull and Ferrari which McLaren are struggling to understand.

He made a good start but with Mark Webber in front and Felipe Massa to his right he had nowhere to go, and lost a position to Vitaly Petrov. He took the Renault driver around the outside of turn two at the beginning of the next lap.

Massa’s delay in the pits promoted Hamilton to fourth but a suspected gearbox problem ended his race on lap 24. It’s his second race-ending mechanical failure of the year.

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

2010 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Image (C) www.mclaren.com

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23 comments on Unreliability and poor pace costs McLaren title lead (McLaren race review)

  1. US_Peter said on 2nd August 2010, 0:33

    Hasn’t Hamilton had more mechanical retirements this year now that any of the other top drivers?

    Button and Kobayashi… somehow they keep ending up near each other. Ever since Kobayashi’s first race last year where he passed Button in a chicane, it seams they’re destined to race against one another.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd August 2010, 0:39

      If you only count actual retirements, maybe, but that would underestimate how big a problem unreliability has been for the Red Bull drivers.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 2nd August 2010, 2:58

        True, but in Bahrain, Barcelona, and Montreal Vettel was able to nurse the car home to retain valuable points for the championship. He’d be well out of the running at this point if those had all been retirements. Either way though, you’re right, reliability is still a problem for RBR, though they do seem to be getting on top of their issues slowly.

    • Spectator said on 2nd August 2010, 5:06

      yes mclaren has been unlucky but the other teams have been more vettel clearly is the driver with more problems until now mechanical and other alonso 2nd on the unlucky board not many dnf but some sunday bad luck 3rd ham with some failures and 4th webber

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd August 2010, 11:20

      Alonso had engine problems (although only once in the race after battling with the gearbox).
      And Vettel argueably had quite a lot of gremlins with the brakes (Australia, China), the gearbox in Canada and the spark plug thing in Bahrain, although the brakes issue might have had something to do with his driving.

  2. Alexi said on 2nd August 2010, 0:46

    Yeah that’s whatI was about to mention. Vettel would have retired like five times already if wasn’t for team orders ordering him to slow down.

  3. patrickl said on 2nd August 2010, 1:00

    I thought Hamilton had a problem going into the first corner too. He seemed to slow down all of a sudden (relative to the others) and then Petrov went past.

    Think he even mentioned this in his post race interview.

    • DaveW said on 2nd August 2010, 1:35

      At the start, they thought it was brakes, and had even asked Whiting for permision to change the rotors and pads. They were denied. All according to Speed. So Hamilton surely did not want to risk slamming into the back of Alonso and braked way early just in case. It turned out it was a transmission/driveshat issue. Without this discretion Hamilton may have got by Massa as he was ahead of him by the end of the straight.

      • Bernard (@bernard) said on 2nd August 2010, 2:46

        According to Whitmarsh they were allowed to change the brakes but decided against it as time was short and rushing would likely result in further problems.

      • Younger Hamilton said on 2nd August 2010, 11:56

        @DaveW No No No you’ve got it all wrong.Whitmarsh asked Whiting for permission to change the brakes and he said they can but afterall McLaren didnt find a problem with the brakes.Then Lewis had his driveshaft/Transmission problem.

        Brakes and Transmission issues are completely different.

  4. Serifo said on 2nd August 2010, 1:06

    Mclaren was disappointing , but I am curious about the FIA verdict on the issue of ” flexible ” front wing.Some of the RB6`S onboard videos clearly show the front wing lowering. I hope the FIA will claryfy the issue asap ! As for Mclaren , I really hoppe the techinical guys will improve the car in Belgium.

  5. BBT said on 2nd August 2010, 6:04

    Alonso stopped when out of the points and as far as I can remember, Vettel has still picked up points with a ‘sick car’ Just a quick tot up and I think Mclaren have lost as many points as RBR (or in Hamiltons case more) as Button only lost a few in Monaco.

  6. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 2nd August 2010, 6:08

    Mclaren needs to find a performance advantage very soon the next tracks may help them with their F-duct but I doubt that will be enough for them to win the championship.

  7. Carl said on 2nd August 2010, 7:39

    McLaren seem to be going backwards.I think they fell behind in the development race and now they will struggle for the rest of the season. Even without the Flexi wings the RBR will be very hard to catch. 1 Second in F1 is just too much to catch up in less than half a season. Plus the 2 retirements HAM had so far has cost him 30 points.

    • Lee said on 2nd August 2010, 8:59

      @Carl,

      According to some experts the Flexible front wing could be worth up to a second per lap so if Red Bulls wing gets banned or they are deemed to be ok and maclaren put one on then those cars would be much much closer instantly. The fact that they offer such a huge advantage is why there is a rule for them in the first place. It looks as if it is just a quirk in the FIAs testing that is letting them through at the moment. Add that to the fact that Maclaren have potentially more performance that they can squeeze out of the rear diffuser than red bull do (as red bulls is already highly developed) and it is certainly possible that Maclaren could quickly become the fastest car in the field.

      • bosyber said on 2nd August 2010, 10:56

        I would say McLaren need to find some pace relatively soon – but just a few races back, we were saying the same of Ferrari – and then a race ago, Ferrari really needed a win to save their WDC as McLaren would be running away with it scoring good points, with Red Bull fast enough but unreliable.

        A race onwards, and things have changed a lot. Let’s just wait to see how things are at SPA – if McLaren are in the mix there, the championship will be exciting until the very end, I think.

  8. Calum said on 2nd August 2010, 10:34

    Just a really bad weekend for Mclaren. The Car has only been unreliable once, presant day mclarens aren’t known for their unreliability so it was a one off on that front. Maybe better to dnf on a day like today rather than in Spa or Monza when you are race faves.

  9. Derek said on 2nd August 2010, 12:29

    The Team factories are now shut down for two weeks, but they will be open for two weeks before the next GP. McLaren must hit the ground running, fine tune the blown diffuser and maybe squeeze another .5 secs out of the car then the FIA may do the rest.
    The BBC are reporting that the FIA is to clamp down on so-called ‘flexible wings’ by introducing more stringent load tests by the next race in Belgium.

  10. Carl said on 2nd August 2010, 13:31

    I hope the McLaren employees have taken some work home for the break, seen that they cant work at the factory..LOL..

  11. Stepney said on 3rd August 2010, 22:13

    A front wing will never give a 1 second advantage unless the other teams run without one.
    Red Bull have a very complete package and the race in Hungary flattered their performance regardless of how the front wing flexes,Spa and Monza will see Red Bull having much less than a 1 second advantage,and i can see Ferrari having the upper hand along with McLaren.

    • Armin said on 12th August 2010, 13:57

      Well front wing alone can not give that much but the front wing together with the configuration of the blown diffusor can. The thing is if they are deemed illegal the effect on the RBR and Ferrari wont be to only stiff up the front wing but rather to lower their overall downforce because they will have to balance out the loss of downforce in front with removing downforce from the back. But it wont hurt them that much now since couple of next races are not that downforce demanding. Nice workfrom RBR to “cheat” where they need the dowforce and then remove it later.

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