Formula One 2012 half-term report: McLaren

Why have we come to McLaren last? Well, one reason might be that they set the base line for performance at the start of the season, covering the front row in Australia and Malaysia and turning the first of those in to a handsome one-two.

McLaren did the best job with a tricky new rule book that had, over one winter, made irrelevant the bulk of all the aerodynamic work the teams had been doing for the previous three years — exhaust-gas blown diffusers. And McLaren did it with some style — this year’s MP4-27 is one beautiful racing car. Against its performance out of the box all team’s efforts this year to date must be measured. And that includes McLaren. Sadly it has been found badly wanting.

Now don’t get us wrong, we love McLaren, it is the nearest thing Team GB has to a Grand Prix team and we’re sorry, we’re writing this from London. (Did you know, incidentally, that McLaren worked with Team GB on almost every piece of its Olympic equipment: from bikes, canoes, kayaks and boats?). Never mind the overseas shareholders and German engines, it’s the stuff that’s made Britain Great that drives McLaren. That and the company chairman’s obsession with detail.

We’ve taken to calling them ‘Team Perfect’ this season because it is what McLaren aspire to be. It’s also become an easy irony. This season McLaren has been anything but perfect. And when you start the season as strongly as McLaren did it’s just not good enough. That’s why we’re giving them a potentially controversial ‘D’ here. Yup, we reckon McLaren needs a ‘must do better’ since Australia. There is one caveat: we absolutely note that after the miserable weekend at Silverstone, someone, somewhere got the hairdryer and, as of the last race before the break, were again the team to beat.

But that’s come too late for Jenson Button and that, more than anything, has upset us here on the Sunday Afternoon sofa. He is a lovely man. Let’s face it guys, we want to be him. And ladies…? Well, you know. That Jenson has been seen this year clearly looking absolutely desperate has been the low point of the season. It hasn’t helped that Lewis Hamilton did a deal over the winter to lease his pouty face to Seb’ Vettel. That must have hurt JB.

The odd but wonderful Gary Anderson has done an excellent job this year documenting all the little cock-ups McLaren has made on the BBC website. Not the Keystone Cop Stops or the fuelling errors but little stuff like releasing cars in to pit lane queues too soon, or leaving tyres out of the warmers too long. Little stuff that makes a big difference when the margins between success and failure have shrunk to hundredths of a second, as they have this year.

But it’s Jenson’s ‘set-up-gate’ that is responsible for the mark. Sure, it is extremely smart to cover all the bases when you have two drivers with such fundamentally different styles, and was correct at first to let Jenson explore a little. But why on earth, with Woking buzzing to the sound of the giant Super-Crays that power the MTC and the simulators there, did nobody spot that JB was driving up a totally blind alley, er, slowly?

Lewis Hamilton still has a crack at the world championship. But with only half the season gone, Jenson Button does not. The best he can hope for is to play his part helping Lewis score and Fernando Alonso not score. For a team that prides itself — it said this just this morning — on having two drivers capable of winning the title and giving them both a crack at it, that surely is the biggest fail of all.

It’s a ‘D’ then. (Though, on appeal, we have opted to make it a suspended ‘D’, pending the result on Sunday.) Harsh, but then we love McLaren, and they’ve set standards impeccably high…

Okay, half term reports over. Can we all go and do some racing now?

Comments are now closed

What on earth? Mclaren deserve a b+ at the least. The car was the fastest at the start of the season, and they are only slower now because their rivals have made advancements. Personally,as a mclaren fan, I am angry.

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if you were to set the scores for all of the teams based on the improvement between australia and hungary, the grade is perhaps understandable; with the best car at the start of the year Mclaren should have won more than they did, and their issues with pitstops in particular have been well documented.Having said that, i dont think the team are deserving of a D. The way they started the year meant that the work they did over the summer was fantastic. Equally, the fact that they have seemingly pulled that gap back somewhat means that the boys have sorted their stuff out. For me, a C+/B-

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Quick error in the article, it is mentioned that they scored a 1-2 in AUS when infact they scored a 1-3 with VET in P2 due to Mclaren’s awful pitstops.

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It’s a suspended d. If mclaren have a good race, expect a good grade. One error, top gear said in the red bull report that one of the big three would get a b (red bull), one an a++(ferrari), and one a c (mclaren), but they gave mclaren a suspended d. If I wrote this post, I would give mclaren a b+ or a-. They have tried hard to keep up with red bull and they have done a decent job.

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I’m a McLaren fan, and I think it’s a fair grade. They started great, they had all the opportunities to storm through the season and win the championship, but they’ve failed to capitalize on the opportunity. That’s not a great performance, and not great performances should get not great grades.

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@clay houser: you have a point, but McLaren have improved from last year.

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@anonymous: They should get a D because they had the best car by far at the start of the season and havn’t done anything with it. Strategy, car development and ‘the little things’ are costing them a constructors and drivers championship. Somehow Mclaren started 2012 like Red Bull did in 2011, yet Lewis and Jenson are far from Alonso’s 194 pts and Mclaren are trailing behind Red Bull again in the constructors. That…is why they get a D.

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*164 pts :)

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@suck it and see: you have a point. Mclaren should have been leading by now, but they are stuck behind red bull. Hamilton has a chance, but not button. Mclaren have performed awful pit stops, costing them a possible chinese grand prix win. :)

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If McLaren wants to win races all they gotta do is use Kevin Magnussen. Unfortunately he wont get a crack of showing what he is capable of in th MP4-27 before the young driver test in Abu D.

(Being a bit nationalistic here…..)

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@JGK: McLaren have a good driver line up, it’s just mclarens awful pitstops, coupled with their rivals advancements that are costing them.

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i agree with clay houser coz the pitstops have been horribly bad,the car from catalunya wasnt good for jenson and silverstone wasnt good across the board.what makes it sad is that if mclaren had done as well or close as australia in every single race they would be very close,but because of what has happened this year they are 50 odd points adrift going to the second half. too bad i say

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Reblogged this on kishorehemlani.

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