Two champions but no titles for McLaren in 2010

2010 F1 season review

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

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

  1. Electrolite said on 14th December 2010, 23:14

    It is a shame. There were some points like Turkey, China and Montreal where it seemed they were really going to win at least the constructers at the end of the year. The Red Bulls and Alonso was always going to be something to compete with though.

  2. Electrolite said on 14th December 2010, 23:26

    Another thing to add was that on a few occasions when Mclaren had some momentum and had good things going for them, they’d bring in some sort of radical change or ‘experiment’ with some setup, realise it didn’t work after practice, and spend the rest of the weekend catching up. I really do admire their innovative approaches but sometimes they shouldn’t try to fix something that ain’t broken.

  3. A shame Lewis will never have a team work for him.
    Like Ferrari worked for Michael, or Renault work for
    Alonso.

    • Sammy said on 15th December 2010, 1:32

      That is a sad thing. unfortunately he is so loyal to McLaren that maybe he cant see the other side of things.

    • Wobblebottom said on 15th December 2010, 2:42

      *cough* 2007
      *cough* 2008
      *cough* 2009

      2010 is the only year I can recall where there seemed to be true parity of support for the drivers. Even pre-Hamilton, there was always bias towards one driver over the other. But yes, for 3 years in a row, Hamilton has enjoyed his team’s confidence and support.

      • 2007????? Remember Monaco where a much faster Lewis was denied the win by the team? Are you aware that Alonso had Lewis excluded from several test sessions? Mclaren bent over backwards to make Alonso comfortable, so can we please stop with the nonsense that Lewis was favored in 2007. The simple fact is that he outdrove Alonso.

    • U hypocroites. When Renault/ferrari worked/works for Alonso, u whine and takes everyting babd on Alonso coz team is backing him and u want the same for ur fav driver and since hw isnt getting that, u sympathesise with him.
      What a bunch of hypocrites.
      One thing which is good , cant be good for one and bad for another

      • Sammy said on 15th December 2010, 4:07

        It is a bit hypocritical I admit. But ive come to accept that that is apparently wat Formula1 is about….it appears that mobilizing a team to back one driver produces a better recipe for a championship run at least.
        It seems McLaren, by splitting their car strategy between the two, end up hurting the whole in a sense…because we do know Lewis is the faster driver, and were the car and the mechanisms of the team structured around his tendencies and his driving style, I think that would be when McLaren would encounter the most success.

        • US_Peter said on 15th December 2010, 5:36

          Red Bull backed both of their drivers and it seems to have worked out alright for them…

          • jimscreecy said on 15th December 2010, 14:45

            REally US_Peter? Do you actually believe that? When a team clearly has the fastest car on the grid, favouritism isn’t so much of an issue, though it can still cause some serious inter-team disharmony.
            For example when they broke the golden rule and took each other out in Turkey, it becomes relatively obvious which driver is favoured. The cuddling and consoling of Vettel (who most experts agree was at fault) is a clear indication who was ultimately favoured, as was the case with the issue with the broken front wing taken from WEbbers car and handed to Vettel at Silverstone. For the most part the cars are the same and drivers get equal treatment. It’s not like they tie one hand of the No.2 driver behind his back, or give half his mechanics the race weekend off. Still, differences subtly (or sometimes obviously) emerge, especially when there is an incident or the status quo is upset. I think one of the problems Horner had (for all his lipservice) was justifiably favouring Vettel when Webber was never truly outpaced by Vettel. Admittedly Red Bull did have some reliability issues, but the difference in peformance of the two drivers was often too close to call. If you still beleive Horner’s rhetoric about no team orders after looking at the evidence you are not being trully honest about the situation… INHO.

      • jimscreechy said on 15th December 2010, 14:19

        Gill, what are you talkin about? There is no hypocrisy here at all. I can’t say I like Briatore’s agressive and often undermining style of management towards his no.2 drivers, but there was certainly nothing wrong with him favouring Alonso stategy, development, and position-wise within the team.
        The same is true of Alonso at Ferrari. He should be treated as No.1, development should be biased towards his preference, becasue he is the better driver. It has nothing to do with favouritism or fan based support. I think it is fairly well established that favouring the weaker driver is counterproductive to the team.

        I think the problems with Mclaren in 2007 largely developed becuase originally he (Alonso) was favoured as the faster driver and given the No.1 spot till Hamilton then clearly demonstrated he was at the very least on equal terms with Alonso in driving capability, and then proceeded to outpeform him for the remainder of the season. If next year Massa begins to dominate Alonso, Dominically would be foolish to continue to treat Alonso as top dog. What would you do?

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 15th December 2010, 11:53

      As much as I’d like to have a go as the comment encouraged the same string of angry posts everyone’s heard many times before, i’ll have to disagree. 2008 and 09 were 2 years where he pretty much did have the car to himself.

    • Younger Hamilton said on 16th December 2010, 17:53

      Lewis does have a team that works for him,McLaren.Anyway F1 is a Team Sport not a one man show.

  4. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 15th December 2010, 1:48

    Mclaren drivers are talented & they have the most strongest team combination going into 2011.Yes Red Bull have it but the thing is that they had a crack in their relationship which we didn’t expected but we expected that to happened in Mclaren.

  5. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 15th December 2010, 7:44

    Not a bad year for McLaren, their main problem was that the car design was fundamentally weak and sorely lacking in mechanical grip due to their obsession with fast-corner speed and stability. By my own calculations this cost them more than they gained as the tracks slightly favoured a good mechanical base. Of course, without the EBD it would have been a smart choice as downforce still rules the roost, but with it existing and the McLaren being more sensitive to its negative effects McLaren were caught out.

    Still, they were in contention for a very long time thanks to mostly only breaking down when off of the podium. With a good car McLaren will really be the team to beat next year.

  6. Adlanzr said on 15th December 2010, 10:06

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

  7. DanielPT said on 15th December 2010, 12:26

    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.

  8. michael said on 15th December 2010, 12:58

    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?

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

  10. Malcom said on 15th December 2010, 22:17

    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.

  11. 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.

  12. Younger Hamilton said on 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.

  13. Younger Hamilton said on 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

  14. The Limit said on 16th December 2010, 18:37

    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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