Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010

Two champions but no titles for McLaren in 2010

2010 F1 season reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010

McLaren’s decision to pair the two most recent world champions provoked pre-season speculation about whether they might fall out.

But while the Lewis Hamilton-Jenson Button pairing worked well, McLaren faced other difficulties during 2010.

Not least in terms of car development, as they ran into trouble trying to keep pace with Red Bull and Ferrari.

McLaren team stats 2010

Best race result (number) 1st (5)
Best grid position (number) 1st (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 5 (2/3)
Laps completed (% of total) 2024 (89.64%)
Laps led (% of total) 245 (21.7%)
Championship position (2009) 2nd (3rd)
Championship points (2009*) 454 (181)
*using 2010 system

McLaren stole a march on their rivals at the start of the season with their innovation dubbed the ‘F-duct’ – known internally as the RW80.

Simple in concept but difficult to execute, it allowed their drivers to stall the rear wing on straights, reducing downforce and drag while it was not needed in order to reach a higher top speed.

It took a while for their rivals to successfully implement their own versions of the F-duct. In the meantime McLaren enjoyed a strong first half of the season, with four wins shared between their two drivers.

Those who expected Button to show Hamilton the way were in the minority. But he grabbed two opportunistic wins in the first four races, partly thanks to spot-on tyre calls in wet conditions.

Hamilton suffered setbacks which left him to rely on the MP4-25’s straight-line speed (thanks in part to that F-duct) and his overtaking prowess to make up places at Melbourne, Sepang and Shanghai.

At Melbourne Hamilton was infuriated by being summoned for an extra pit stop which ultimately cost him places before he was hit by Mark Webber. He was at odds with his strategists again at Istanbul when he was told Button was holding station behind him – only for Button to pass him for the lead.

Hamilton reversed the move and went on to win, then made it back-to-back victories with a top-drawer performance at Canada. Second places at Valencia (despite a penalty for overtaking the safety car) and Silverstone propelled him into the lead of the drivers’ championship.

A combination of setbacks kept him and McLaren from the titles. Not least of which was uncharacteristic unreliability.

While Hamilton had enjoyed excellent reliability in his first three seasons, he retired from the top four positions with car problems twice in 2010 and had a double-whammy of gearbox glitches in Suzuka.

Button fared better: his sole race-ending mechanical failure of the year at Monte-Carlo was the result of a mechanic leaving a cover on an air intake. He was frustrated by a faulty dashboard in Spain as well.

On top of that the team’s development path led them into trouble. The plan to add an exhaust-blown diffuser at Silverstone was aborted and in the later races they simply couldn’t match the race pace of Red Bull and Ferrari. A new rear wing seemed to solve their problems in the final round but it was too little too late.

Hamilton also rued a costly clash with Felipe Massa at Monza, blowing a chance to take points off the Red Bulls.

Two weeks later in Singapore he was rather luckless when contact with Webber caused another retirement. Still, if he had a Get Out Of Jail Free Card he played it at Spa when he disappeared into a gravel trap while leading and dragged his car out again, still in first place.

Button rallied at Monza by gambling on an unusual high-downforce set-up which, allied to the F-duct, nearly won him the race.

But, as in 2009, qualifying was again a weakness and he started outside the top ten in Britain, Hungary and Brazil. His hopes of retaining his title were finally extinguished after a disastrous race in Korea.

Hamilton stayed in the running until the final round and although he ended the year fourth he was just 16 points behind winner Sebastian Vettel at the end of a remarkably close season.

In their first season having regained independent status McLaren comfortably beat Mercedes. But this battle between the Mercedes factory outfit and the top Mercedes-powered team will be one to watch in 2011.

McLaren’s 2010 season in pictures

2010 F1 season review

Browse all 2010 F1 season review articles

Image ?? www.mclaren.com, Bridgestone/Ercole Colombo

71 comments on “Two champions but no titles for McLaren in 2010”

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  1. And the only one pole position by Lewis for McLaren in 2010..

  2. My guess is that while Jenson is slower no problems will come from the drivers at McLaren. The only stress signs came when Hamilton was behind in the WDC, or Button tried to pass him or was quicker in that odd race. I think Button is only getting on with his job. He is of the relaxed and easy going kind.

  3. so, what was Newey doing all these years @ Mclaren showing up @ RBR and ultimately making idiots out of great big monster teams such as Williams Renault Ferrari and yeah especially McLaren?

  4. As the great Murray Walker used to say:
    IF is F1 spelt backwards

  5. Absolutely correct Mark…..after Lewis beat Fernando at Bahrain…..Fernando went to Mclaren, and had Lewis excluded from his scheduled upcoming test sessions for Fernando’s home race at Spain. It didn’t help Alonso, because Hamilton still beat him in Spain.

  6. At the end of the day, neither driver won a championship in a car that was always capable of doing it. Don’t give me none of this “Ferrari and RedBull were a tenth faster” BS. Both drivers have issues to solve before the start of next season. The difference between the two will be how the car suits one compared to the other.

    Button did much better than anyone ever expected him to this season. If you want to point the finger at a poorly performing top team driver that was never going to win the championship, then you don’t have to look much further than Ferrari.

  7. Younger Hamilton
    16th December 2010, 17:50

    AND THOSE 18 Points he lost in Spain was deemed costy for the title and if he did get 2nd there then he would of won the title by 5 points taking Vettel’s and Alonso’s 3 points they gained from the premature crash.

  8. Younger Hamilton
    16th December 2010, 18:35

    McLaren need to focus on Downforce Creating Innovations instead of Stratight Line Speed Innovations(not saying they should stop) also they need a car that has good Mechanical Grip and are suited to both types of Tyre Compounds and in 2011 its crucial because of Pirelli’s Entrance next year.Im Counting on them!!! Make the MP4-26 the new MP4-20 but more reliable

  9. Infact I was impressed by Jenson Button in 2010. I must admit when it became public knowledge at the end of 2009 that Button was going to McLaren I feared the worst. I imagined Hamilton blowing the doors off Jenson and all the tantrums and scandals of 2007 within the McLaren team. There was none of this, and despite the events of Turkey, the two drivers appeared to respect one another.
    Now, I am not suggesting that Button is a better driver than Hamilton nor denying that Hamilton beat Button in the championship. What I am saying though is that Jenson is a far better driver than most gave him credit for, myself included. When you compare Button’s season at McLaren to Heikki Kovalainen’s rather lacklustre two year career there there is no comparison.

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