Mclaren dropped off the pace in Valencia, but are back on it. Valencia has high track temperature, where Mclaren struggle. They were hurt most by the Silverstone exhaust regulations, but now they are gone, they are back on the pace.
One of the reasons Mclaren struggle in qualy is the DRS. Mclaren’s doesn’t generate as much as it’s rivals. But Hamilton has wrung the neck of the car to stick it on the front row two races in a row.
One of the big weaknesses of the Red Bull is that in long and fast corners, it overworks its rear tyres. The Mclaren’s have made the most of this in the last two races. Also, Mclaren struggle to get traction in the rear tyres. But on the cold days, or in the wet, they are dominant because of the way they heat the tyres.
Well, the RedBull is said to heat its tyres up quickly too, hense their amazing 1 lap pace. But I just wonder if its a case of RBR not having as many or having as many working updates for the car. They remade Vettels car on Friday night (taking off failed upgrades?) But i think both Mclaren and Ferrari have gotten their s**t together and caught up some. The next 2 races fall into their hands due to the high top-end speeds required.
McLaren in recent races seem to have almost surpassed Red Bull for heating up their tyres (see Webber’s comments about getting stuck behind Button in Q3) but this will come back to hurt them more in hot races (and perhaps was evident in Valencia?) Combine this with two cool races and there you have it.
It’s also worth noting that Mark Hughes reckons McLaren are now worse than Red Bull for looking after rear tyres over a stint, probably for the same reason that they can get the tyres up to temperature quicker now. Remember in Valencia McLaren were struggling with degradation caused by not having enough downforce, so with less traction they wore their tyres out quicker and cooked them too (and were immediately happier on the primes!). Coming up to Monza, we will see where they are with that.
I believe McLaren has been close to Red Bull all season long – they weren’t too far in the first two races, won the third. They struggled in Turkey, but they were arguably better in Catalunya, Monaco and the last two races. The exhaust ban in Silverstone hurt them and they struggled in Valencia for a few reasons, but they’ve always been close to Red Bull.
So I wouldn’t say them being back in it is a big surprise, as they were only out of it when something went wrong.