McLaren rediscover their form at final race

McLaren race review

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Just one week after watching the Red Bulls and Ferraris drive away from them at Interlagos, McLaren were back in contention for victory in Abu Dhabi.

The MP4-25 seemed much happier on the ultra-smooth Abu Dhabi track but McLaren credited much of their progress to a new rear wing.

They matched their best qualifying performance of the year, pressured Sebastian Vettel for victory and clinched second in the constructors’ championship.

Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton
Qualifying position 4 2
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’39.823 (+0.398) 1’39.425
Race position 3 2
Laps 55/55 55/55
Pit stops 1 1

You need to upgrade your Flash Player

Open lap times interactive chart in new window

Jenson Button

Off the pace on Friday and concerned about vibrations from the car early in qualifying, but rebounded to qualify fourth. Although this marked an improvement he was disappointed not to be higher on the grid:

I made a mistake and ran wide on my last lap, so it?s a little disappointing to be starting fourth because I could have been even higher.
Jenson Button

He picked off Fernando Alonso at the start. After that he ran a very long stint on his super-soft tyres, eventually pitting on lap 40 having led for 14 laps.

However he wasn’t able to rise any higher than third place.

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

Lewis Hamilton

Clearly very happy with the updates to the MP4-25, topping second practice on Saturday. Had a few run-ins with Felipe Massa during qualifying but nonetheless put his car on the front row, just a few hundredths of a second slower than Sebastian Vettel.

Got off the line well and had a look at passing Vettel into turn one, but couldn’t make it work. He kept Vettel honest throughout the opening stint, the gap between them less than a second at times.

But his pit stop left him behind Robert Kubica and Kamui Kobayashi, and while he was able to pass the Sauber quickly he remained stuck behind the Renault for over 20 laps.

By the time Kubica pitted any chance of catching Vettel for the win was gone:

I was able to match Sebastian?s [Vettel] pace in the early part of the race ?ǣ but, after my pitstop, I was stuck behind Robert [Kubica]. It was just impossible to get past him ?ǣ he made no mistakes ?ǣ so it wasn?t possible to resume my attack on Sebastian. But that?s the way motor racing goes sometimes.
Lewis Hamilton

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

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Advert | Go Ad-free

21 comments on McLaren rediscover their form at final race

  1. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 15th November 2010, 17:45

    I really hope McLaren learn from this season and build a good basic car which you can add downforce to, rather than the over-specialised one they built this year.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th November 2010, 19:09

      You mean like they learned from last season? They were 2nd fastest most of the year. I don’t think that’s a bad showing at all really. They finished 2nd in the constructor’s, which is better than last year by far. That said though, you’re right that the car was too specialized, although if you think about it it kind of makes sense to design a car that can hang in the corners but blows away the field on the straight, because the straights are where overtaking happens. In fact we usually saw this year that the McLarens were some of the hardest cars to overtake… certainly harder than the Red Bulls.

  2. Younger Hamilton said on 15th November 2010, 18:00

    Proud of McLaren this year they really gave everything this season and never gave up despite the Upgrades not fullfilling their purposes.Like Icthyes said they need to make the MP4-26 a car that you’re able to find a good set-up on because the MP4-25 was very hard and the car was very stiff as well.They also need to start coming up with ideas and innovations that Increases Downforce in a car not things like the F-Duct which was a brilliant innovation though.They’ve got their work cut out in the Pirelli tests this week(hope Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey do a cracking job not just the leaderboards but most importantly developing next years car and analysing the data) as well as pre season tests in February-March 2011.Really Hope and expect McLaren to be a much stronger team.BRING ON 2011

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th November 2010, 19:11

      I’m a bit perplexed as to why neither Button or Hamilton are partaking in the Pirelli tests. McLaren’s the only top team that doesn’t have at least one of their drivers there. I hope for their sake that doesn’t turn out to be a big mistake.

  3. Hallard said on 15th November 2010, 18:07

    I think the key to McLaren’s resurgence in the final race was not upgraded components, but rather the track itself. Yas Marina is smooth as a glass table, which allowed McLaren to run the car low and stiff and maximise downforce from their diffuser. With the double-diffuser being banned though next year they will have to work very hard to build a car that gets more downforce from its top side and body work, rather than the seemingly diffuser-centric design they had this year. I predict red bull will be every bit as dominant next year, although a lack of an EBD will not give them the same advantage in Qaulifying. Fingers crossed that the boys from Woking can mount a title challenge next year as well!

    • Precisely. They didn’t regain anything. Smooth track with long straights and a little go-kart infield section was the reason for the performance here. I don’t think there is much to build on, if they want to get out front, instead of just nipping at Newey’s heels whenever a suitable track comes up.

      More to the point, the team has been off technically since the end of 07, the zenith of the team with the preceding rules framework. The 08 was only an evolution and masked their disruption from spygate fallout. 09 was an historic disaster for the team and in 2010, while they made up some ground, they had a fundamentally difficult car that was miles off the pace when downforce was needed. The 07 car was the result of a long process of working through concepts, after Newey left them in the lurch, to get a reliable, fast car. They may need another 3-5 year process to get a car like that again.

      I’m afraid that we are looking at a new period of Newey dominance. The new changes are significant, but I don’t think the basic aero concept has to change. It will take McLaren a couple more years to get on Newey’s terms fully, providing rules stay stable.

      • Bernard said on 15th November 2010, 20:52

        They will still have EBD, just not one with multiple decks. The EBD will be around now for as long as the rules allow the diffuser to be as big as they are.

        Plus, there are plenty of areas next year to make gains in such as KERS, new rear wings and of course the new tyres.

        • Hallard said on 15th November 2010, 21:25

          I thought that the new diffusers were not only going to be much smaller, but that they would be ‘closed’ or non-permeable, for lack of a better term, so that exhaust gasses could be blown over the top of the diffuser, but not through it.

          So…it sounds like Im mistaken there, is that right?

      • Younger Hamilton said on 15th November 2010, 21:05

        I think Red Bull will end a period of being one of the top teams in F1 not complete dominance like with Ferrari last this early decade.Besides the Adjustable rear wing will allow teams to run more wing on their cars,thus KERS i heard Ferrari,Renault and Red Bull are using it in 2011.The Blown Diffuser is still around surprisingly so more exploitments will be made from it but it might not be effective as it was this year due to Double Diffusers being banned and which cars can work with the new Pirelli Tyres dont forget about that.

  4. Omar Roncal said on 15th November 2010, 18:09

    There was a comment Alonso made before the Abu Dhabi race, and I think it’s true: The Ferrari was never the fastest neither in straights nor in curves or corners, but the average speed permited them to fight. We have heard sometimes how Red Bulls were the best in cornering and the McLs the best in straights, but if McL wants to challenge RBs supremacy, yes they urgently need an “all-circuit” car

  5. I think the lessons they’ve learned from this year will provide them with a superb foundation car from the beginning of next year. I can’t wait.

    And this year’s car was everything they learned from last year’s car which started out as ‘a dog’, as Eddie Jordan put it.

  6. McLaren became strong in the wrong moment, when all was over, yet wasn’t strong enough to challenge Vettel for victory.

  7. David BR said on 15th November 2010, 19:19

    Memo for 2011: a car that can handle bumps would be cool.

    Hamilton and Button are a good track combination, definitely, and seem to have developed a good working relationship, but it still worries me that their very different driving styles could lead to a compromise on car design. They really need a car better glued to the track to maximize Hamilton’s risk taking.

    • They also need to build a stronger suspension for their car, in that vein.
      Hamilton just said he didnt see himself leaving McLaren for another 10 years, it appears he absolutely loves it there, if thats the case….Macca needs to pay the loyalty back by designing a car that suits Lewis and his driving style and overtaking.

  8. I am really astounded by everyone agreeing how bad this years McLaren was.

    I remember in the middle of the year where McLaren were looking strong, everyone said it was over for Ferrari and Red Bull already threw it away. To me the car is a very good one, it had its strengths and weaknesses. The Ferrari was different, but it was just as good over the season. Good job from the big teams to recover from a 2009 where they missed all the biggest tricks as they focussed on KERS.
    Red Bull just did a lot better job, as they improved on their great car from last year.

    Next year everyone will have to rethink how to effictively incorporate KERS again and it is a gamble who makes the moveable rear wing work best.
    And all these 3 teams as well as Mercedes and Renault have a solid foundation to build a car on, although McLaren will probably have to change most fundamentally.

    • SeanG said on 16th November 2010, 3:58

      Well McLaren are a bit like the NY Yankees (U.S. baseball team which is expected to win) in that they seriously compete for the championship every year.

      The problem with this year’s McLaren was clear from race #5 – It was a specialized vehicle that was not a good base for development. This was not the case with Ferrari. And with my untrained eyes, the complexity of the MP4-25A was quite evident compared to the Red Bull or the F2010. Once the F-duct was copied, McLaren were in real trouble.

      I sincerely hope that next year’s car, the MP4-26, will be aerodynamically more simple.

      Its been a fantastic season!!

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 16th November 2010, 19:50

        I think the opposite was true actually, it was aerodynamically pretty simple whereas the RB6 was pretty complex. Look at how much more sculptural pretty much all parts of the RB6 were compared to the MP4-25A. That’s why it had less drag, and the Red Bull had tons of drag.

  9. good season with 5 gp´s and the 2nd place in constructors behind the best car all year, it´s not to bad.. but hope they learned from de weakness of the mp4-25 and build something better from the beginning, giving both drivers the chance to win

  10. CapeFear said on 16th November 2010, 9:38

    The problem isn’t the car, the problem is management in McLaren. Instead of spending most of their focus on downforce, creating new rear wings that exploited their f-duct they spent weeks on the EBD which had failed results over and over again. Ironically they seemed to have a faster more stable car without it as shown at silverstone!

    Ferrari was the same spending too much time with the F-duct. If McLaren wants to win next year it needs to sack the lead designers for 2009-2010 car get some fresh perspective and design a really good car based upon their own principles and own strengths rather then be a sheep and following others.

    Because this year despite having an advantage with the F-duct, what point is it if you’re over 1 second slower on a track like hungaroring? or slower then Renault in straight lines using similar hand systems?

    McLaren have been playing catchup and not really designing anything unique, caught out by flexi-wings caught out by the EBD caught out by the ride height caught out by lack of downforce. Even Martin Whitmarsh had to turn to gamesmanship to try and rattle the competition, desperate times indeed…

    I’m sorry but the McLaren car has been a dog due to stupid decisions in management if they had taken a different path and design to their strengths rather then following other they would be better. The car has had a few times where it has been competitive, then it nose dived. And lets be honest it’s not hard to come second to Red Bull in the WCC when Felipe Massa can’t get his tires to work all season.

    It also bothers me none of the race drivers will be doing the Pirelli test, arrogance? I would want to test them get used to how they feel and then see them evolve. Oh well.

  11. I agree with capefear,, if massa at least stay in the top ten always ferrari will be 2nd in the WCC.. but let’s not forget ferrari almost build another car in the middle of the season .. the car have seems pretty much like red bull in the back of the car with the diffuser and edb.. add to that the good managament of the tyres= a competitive car in every circuit like red bull

  12. First, that car was too long. It was like a bus. No wonder it wasn’t good in twisty circuits. Second it was too stiff and so much diffuser specialized that it was hard to develop easily.
    In the end is easier to develop a family car than a bus.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.