The McLaren has gone through more cycles in form in the last ten years than one would care to remember, and – at least on initial impressions – the outlook is not promising for 2011.
However, if there’s one team that has the resources and the experience to turn things around rapidly, then this is the team you’d place your money on.
Can the team identify – and do so quickly enough – the root causes of the radical MP4-26’s deficiencies, and what steps will it take to correct these? We’ll find out soon enough…
McLaren’s 2010 track record
Despite not walking away with either championship title in 2010, you could argue that the season was among the team’s best in a while.
Previous seasons have always seen some kind of major niggle that varies from year to year: a poor start to the season with a questionable car; a car that is as fragile as it is quick; a mismatched driving line-up. We could go on…
But the 2010 season saw all of the key ingredients come together.
There was a well-balanced driving line-up, the car was quick and well-balanced with few major vices or reliability issues. And as it was, the team was in the running for both championship right up to the death.
The coped well as it moved out of the limelight of Mercedes’ ‘works’ team, led by the capable and press-friendly Martin Whitmarsh, whose stock continues to climb.
The arrival of Jenson Button greatly complemented Lewis Hamilton, and the two showed a sense of teamwork and unity that was lacking in the line-ups of McLaren’s nearest rivals.
This was precisely the reason why their misunderstanding at the Turkish Grand Prix was patched up so quickly, where in contrast Red Bull seemingly fell to pieces.
A innovative ‘F-duct’ was one of the technical innovations of the year, and made the McLaren MP4-25 fearsome in a straight line.
Button’s title defence was scuppered by some set-up struggles, although he took two outstanding tactical wet-weather wins.
Hamilton continued to show great fire all season and made few errors, but the car’s form tailed off at the season.
Watch the Richard’s F1 pre-season vodcast as Richard and Jen discuss why McLaren can bounce back in the 2011 season after a difficult time in pre-season testing:
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[Images via AUTOSPORT; video by Matt Lennon]