Poor pace spells end of McLaren’s title hopes

McLaren race review

The McLaren drivers never looked like having the pace to challenge the Red Bulls and Ferraris in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Fourth and fifth for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button meant the team lost their constructors’ championship battle with Red Bull and Hamilton’s hopes of winning the drivers’ title are as good as over.

Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton
Qualifying position 11 4
Qualifying time comparison (Q2) 1’19.288 (+0.367) 1’18.921
Race position 5 4
Laps 71/71 71/71
Pit stops 2 2

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Jenson Button

Missed out on Q3 by eight-hundredths of a second, leaving him 11th on the grid:

It?s been a pretty tough weekend ?ǣ I?ve been struggling to find a balance. The front wheels have been locking quite a lot [under braking], and it?s therefore been quite hard to slow the car down. That?s been my biggest issue, and it was no exception in qualifying.

Having said that, the car was better in qualifying than it had been all through practice beforehand. We?d fitted new Intermediates at the end of Q2, and my first lap was okay but not quite good enough. Then I damaged my tyres a bit too much on my second lap, and I couldn?t get a decent time out of them after that. So I got squeezed out of Q3 at the last second.
Jenson Button

Button gained two places at the start but was passed by Michael Schumacher at the start of lap three.

The team gambled on a very early pit stop – bringing him in on lap 12 – which worked very well. On the medium compound tyres he was able to lap quickly enough to move ahead of several drivers who pitted as well as overtake Vitaly Petrov and Adrian Sutil.

He passed Kamui Kobayashi for fifth place on lap 30, which is where he finished.

The team used the safety car to give him another set of tyres without losing a place. He briefly got on the tail of Hamilton in traffic when his team mate was held up behind Heidfeld but wasn’t able to get close enough to try a pass.

Having fallen 47 points behind Alonso Button’s hopes of retaining his 2009 title are over.

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

Lewis Hamilton

Having been slower than the Red Bulls and Ferraris in practice, Hamilton got in between them in qualifying.

He got off the line well and appeared to have a chance to pass Mark Webber on the inside of turn one but Webber braked later and held the position.

Hamilton then ran wide on the second lap which, for the second race in a row, allowed Fernando Alonso past.

Hamilton looked very tentative at the wheel and while Alonso found a way past H???lkenberg, Hamilton remained behind the Williams until H???lkenberg pitted, having made several fruitless attempts to pass.

He was able to lap quicker in clear air but was still between half and a whole second per lap slower than the leaders. He came on the radio several times to complain about his lack of grip.

The team pitted him a second time behind the safety car and, unlike Button, Hamilton took a new set of mediums rather than super-softs. But with several cars to lap after the restart he was unable to use them to attack the leaders.

Nor was his pace significantly better on new tyres anyway – although he set the race’s fastest lap on the 66th tour, one lap later Alonso went just four-thousandths of a second slower despite having much older tyres.

At one point Hamilton even asked the team if his F-duct was working properly:

I pushed as hard as I could on every lap today, but this was a tough race for me. I actually feel quite lucky to have finished where I did.

The car just didn?t feel like it did in practice. I was even struggling to overtake the backmarkers in a straight line ?ǣ Fernando shot past me at the start, too ?ǣ and it almost felt like my F-duct wasn?t working perfectly.
Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton retains a tiny mathematical chance of winning the title in Abu Dhabi but realistically his hopes of a title this year are over.

After the race Martin Whitmarsh paid tribute to constructors’ champions Red Bull:

The battle for the constructors? world championship came to a finish today ?ǣ and the victors were Red Bull Racing. Although in some ways it goes against the grain for me to say so, because our ethos at McLaren is that winning is all, it?s always refreshing when a new constructor?s name is etched onto that famous trophy.

So, on behalf of all at Woking, I?d like to offer congratulations to all at Milton Keynes.
Martin Whitmarsh

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

2010 Brazilian Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix articles

Image ?? www.mclaren.com

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59 comments on Poor pace spells end of McLaren’s title hopes

  1. Franton said on 8th November 2010, 23:18

    As it turns out from my own research, McLaren were not only one of the first to try and exploit EBD in their 2003 car but were actively dissuaded from fully exploiting it by Mercedes! (They were pretty much responsible for the periscope exhausts along with Ferrari for technical reasons).

    See http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/ for some of the more in-depth technical info on F1 cars i’ve found online.

    (Keith: your submit comment button claimed this was a duplicate post!)

    • Franton said on 8th November 2010, 23:19

      Hrm, it DID double post. Feel free to delete this. (I only clicked once)

    • DaveW said on 9th November 2010, 2:23

      In a sense, the RB6 is the evolution of that car and accrues the benefits of the experimentation done at McLaren, not just in the EBD or in its good traits, such as its radically slim rear packaging. You can trace the DNA: The MP4-18 failed impact tests—too fragile. Insufficient cooling in favor of aero cooked the motor. Wierd suspension and bodywork failures. All of this is too familiar to RBR, especially when you look at the two predecessors of the RB6, which were very fragile. With the RB6, at long last Newey found the right side of the knife-edge for reliability.

      The entire MP4-18 debacle really set McLaren back until 2007. They had to do 3 cars in 2002-2003 as a result of Newey’s brilliant car crashiing or catching fire at all times. After 2 more rancorous years, in which McLaren and Mercdes are at odds over the engine failures, he’s off. Handing off to Coughlan, who was brought in to hold Newey’s pencils, to try to get back on the right path. It takes until 2007 to get a decent car. But, as soon as a new team is organized to do a good 2007-2008 car, disaster strikes and Coughlan is gone. They brought it on themselves, but does Coughlan take the Ferrari dossier if Newey is still there? I say no. Does Newey take it if he is there? Of course not. (I’m sure reading another team’s technical papers for him is like one of us reading a children’s book anyway.)

      It’s arguable whether the dossier made much performance difference, but it caused McLaren more grief than $100M and a lost WCC: Spygate put the technical team in disarray, again, and faced with new rules in 2009, McLaren are thus lost and roll out a dog of a car; right at the back of the pack. It ultimately forces out Dennis himself some would say. In 2010 they are just regaining their feet again, but now they are dealing with a Newey who was given good time to create the monster he was hired to do at Mclaren.

      They got good riddance of Newey, but they are still paying the price in their own affairs as well as by getting beat by him in competition.

      • judo chop said on 9th November 2010, 12:07

        Trying to understand your comment here. Saying Coughlan “was brought in to hold Newey’s pencils”, which may have been true initially, is harsh considering he designed their best car in years the MP4/22. As for the Ferrari dossier I feel that any curious tech head would take a peek if naive of the implications, especially if it was freely chucked on to your lap by a Ferrari employee. Coughlan wouldn’t have sent his missus to the local copy shop if he was part of some grand F1 conspiracy (same as Ferrari wouldn’t hire a McLaren stalwart like Pat Fry if they’d felt really aggrieved). Also Ron Dennis had left the race team before they rolled the 09 car out and no one could force him out because he owns McLaren. It seems to me that McLaren has lots of egineering talent – as they’ve taken the loss of Coughlan and Fry in their stride – but that they need an engineering guru with that spark of genius to push them in the right way.

        • DaveW said on 9th November 2010, 14:36

          Not saying Coughlan was a hack, but he was brought in to implement Newey’s work. Yes, he did the MP4-22, the best car in years. Specifically, since before the 18. Which is exactly my point:

          Newey’s radical work in 02-03 set them back for a long time. Think of what it must have taken to do a car, scrap it, do an evolution of the previous one that won’t break down so you can start the season, and then do a new car for the next season in time properly to develop it. How long does it take you to get back to being fully on the basis of your rivals?

          I don’t think they took the loss of Coughlan in their stride, if you look at the 09 disaster. The 08 car was just an evolution of 07, so that masked the issue. When they had to go with a clean sheet in 09 they were lost. To me Spygate is an upshot of the way they were set out to sea post-Newey. I just don’t see the great designers like Newey, Barnard, Postlewaithe, Southgate, Murray taking up another team’s entire dossier, locking their office door and filling it with Post-It flags for a trip to the simulator.

          • judo chop said on 10th November 2010, 0:10

            If, as you say, Newey’s radical work set them back then I can’t see that it’s a lost that he’s not there to waste resources on ideas that don’t work out (though it’s an obvious lost that he’s not there designing a RB6 for them). Apart Hakkinen’s title winning cars Mclaren’s current performance is on par or better – certainly regarding reliability – than that produced during the most of Newey’s tenure. Most teams would not be able survive departure of a chief designer of a title challenger and to still produce race winning cars despite that speaks volumes for McLaren’s engineering depth. I think you make too much of the Spygate incident as I don’t see how it shows anything symptomatic at McLaren.

  2. Fixy (@fixy) said on 9th November 2010, 16:51

    If Alonso, Vettel and Webber retire and Hamilton wins, Hamilton will be 2xWDC! Hope not :)

  3. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 10th November 2010, 13:41

    What a shame for Jenson, and indeed for the championship. Could have had 5 in contention going into Abu Dhabi. :(

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