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McLaren in victory: What a picture tells you
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McLaren in victory: What a picture tells you
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jun 2010   |  4:33 pm GMT  |  158 comments

Take a look at this Darren Heath photograph of the McLaren team on Sunday night after their win in Montreal.

It was the third 1-2 finish of the season, the second with Hamilton heading home Button.

The first thing to note is Ron Dennis on the left of the picture, sitting on the floor, wearing a victory T shirt. He’s no longer in charge of the team and is only an occasional visitor to races, but he was in Montreal in his civilian clothes over the weekend. It was a very low profile appearance though and he had to be persuaded to take part in this picture.

The team has changed since Martin Whitmarsh took over in many ways, more open, more relaxed. Everyone was on edge when Ron was in charge. They are less so now.

But McLaren still knows how to develop a car and there is confidence about this picture which I find striking. The team has just taken its fourth win in eight races and is on top in both championships. Red Bull has squandered a car advantage in the early season and now they are doing 3am finishes at every race to try to keep up. There is something frantic about Red Bull, not yet desperate, but frantic nevertheless.

McLaren have the momentum and this picture sums it up.

Now look at John Button, Jenson’s father. His presence in the picture says a lot about how McLaren has changed. John is not really an old school McLaren type person. But in the new McLaren, where music pumps out of an ipod in the hospitality area and the team is reaching out to fans via social media perhaps more than any other team, he is very much at home and welcomed.

Look at Jenson, does he look miffed at being beaten by Hamilton again? Not a bit of it. When he came into the unilateral room after the race he was delighted with his performance. He couldn’t get close to Lewis in Montreal, as he admitted after qualifying, but he managed to finish two seconds behind him. He has brought a lot to the team; calmness, engineering sense, racing intelligence. Above all though he is scoring big points every race.

This is a team working in harmony, a team with momentum. Red Bull and Ferrari have their work cut out living with these guys.

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1

Whilst broadly on the subject of Anthony Hamilton, I just wondered if anyone knows what’s happening with his F1 testing academy?

2

Button will fail miserably in the end… his abmient skill level is that of a Fisecalla.

He brings nothing to the team of note.

Button is a free rider all the way. This is why he is so happy to think that he is only 2 secs behind Hamilton, when in reality Hamilton is just driving slowly to the finish line.

I expect a total mental failure before the end of the season.

3

Jenson has 106 points to Lewis’s 109 – and you say Jenson brings nothing to the team of note! I would be genuinely interested to know who you beleive could have done better than that?

4

Red Bull’s problem? Easy!! Drinking too much of their own product!! You know what happens if you drink too much coffee, you end up running round and round like a headless chicken getting nowhere. And what’s the main ingredient of Red Bull, yes, caffeine.

Problem solved, just confiscate the tins and suddenly they will start winning again.

5

Please note that comments for this story are currently closed whilst we perform some site maintenance, apologies for the inconvenience!

6

McLaren were a new team in all essentials with the start of MP4. From ’84 they have been there or thereabouts for the vast majority of seasons. During the ten-season domination by Ferrari, McLaren were normally challenging for wins and sometimes were the only team doing so.

In that period the WCC has been to McLaren on 7 occasions and to Ferrari 8. Things go the other way more than a little when you consider that Ferrari, in the same period, has given us 6 WDCs whilst for McLaren it’s 10.

It’s not been a straight battle between the two of course and Williams in that period has also had 7 WCCs but just 5 WDCs. There’s Toleman in there, in its many guises, nationalities and colours, but they’re not part of my argument. (Figures my own and may be a bit confused by various punishments that I didn’t agree with.)

RD started with a spanner in his hand. He built the team from the start of MP4 and it’s entirely a product of his management as near as damn it.

In the period ’84 to ’98 Ferrari, despite being the richest team in the pitlane, spectacularly failed to deliver the goods. However they suddenly decided to spend money wisely and following a major revamp of the team, which meant investing in people rather than things, they pushed Sheckter into their archives. I wonder which cost the most, Brawn or the paddle gearbox.

To get to my point: McLaren were one of the much derided garagisters or kitcar builders, despised because they were not manufacturers yet with shrewd management, single-mindedness (The business of winning used to be their moto) RD has made McLaren the most successful team in F1 since ’84, if we go by WDCs, and by some margin. More than half as many champions again as the next team.

I accept it wasn’t only RD who pushed GP racing towards professionalism. The Williams/Head partnership had as much to do with it and before them Brabham. But RD is one of the major formative agents of F1. One of its giants in fact. Together with Williams/Head he took the battle to the manufacturers and beat them, and rather soundly.

For all the hype, something which RD has failed to generate, with Enzo, Ferrari F1 was never so successful as when it passed from his hands. Harsh, I know given the chap’s dedication to the sport but I felt it needed saying. I accept and agree wholeheartedly that without him F1 might well have perished or at least played second fiddle to WSC. But his team was destroyed by Williams and McLaren.

RD, for whatever reason he moved on, left McLaren F1 in top form. Whitmarsh has, despite my fears, kept it there. He’s improved the atmosphere of the team it seems and good for him. But I would suggest that is not the reason for the team’s current excellent showing.

The initials are a spooky coincidence. It is research and development that’s given the success not the touchy feely approach of MW, welcoming though it is.

In ’88 McLaren won every race but one, and even their loss at Monza was down to an inexperienced Williams driver. Senna was entitled to more consideration. This from a kitcar builder, a bloke who knew which end of a spanner to hit a nut with.

I’m a committed McLaren fan and know that my opinions carry a certain bias. I was at the British GP in ’84, for all three days, and that’s when I abandoned Brabham for the MP4. But even so I feel that the facts and statistics are irrefutable. Ron Dennis was the person who built McLaren and enabled it to be, on WDC stats at least, the most successful GP team from ’84. Whitmarsh’s team is still RD’s creation.

They didn’t get their 1-2s this season by kissing one-another, good though that is. It took dedication, hard work and application over a number of years. 26 I reckon.

After all that, it is nice to see a team enjoying themselves and the fruits of their hard work. Well done Martin and well done McLaren. But please, sort out your pitstops.

7

Interesting and maybe not so right that F1 teams are in the engineering business but have to be judged by journalists – thus while the journalists will be giving credit to PR the real reasons for success of robust organisation and engineering may not be appropriately appreciated

8

There is too much hugging and kissing at the McLaren garage. What happened with the clinical Darth Vader image? Too bad things have changed.

9

It’s one race don’t get carried away just yet!

10

As a big Jenson fan, I’m very pleased to hear your analysis James. But, I’m also a big Lewis fan and do expect him to come out on top. With the early races going jenson’s way I was concerned Lewis might become Alonso-ish and defensive, especially with Jenson being so cool and the Buttons being popular. I suspect things may change if one of them gets a clear upper hand. I’m very pleased Jenson is able to give lewis the credit when he does the better job. I’m not sure it would work the other way around. If Jenson decides to give it the full beans in quali and gets on Lewis’s pace, I think it could be very close in the race. My prediction is Lewis will remain the quicker and Jenson’s chance will be through consistency and his tyre friendly style. Either way i just hope Vettel doesn’t win it!

11

Actually Lewis gave JB credit for his strategy calls for the two wins earlier in the season – appears alot of people were ‘deaf’ to LH and chose not to hear or read his words. So as to whether it would work the other way round – of course yes, it already has and is probably the reason why JB is bending over backwards to return the favour.

Your analysis of their strengths is however very correct. Lewis is fast but still viewed as inconsistent. JB on the hand is slower but more reliable. To be truthful, intuition would have it that if you are fast you would be more risky than if you are measured so the question is which of these two strenths will take the season – speed or caution? I know i would like to see speed because after all this is racing – but that is just my preference.

12

Hi James, I’m a Cuban/Italian F1 fan , and a major Hamilton/ Mclaren fan from Miami Beach, Florida….u so rock with your website, non equal at all. I happen to be a filmmaker, read ur website umpteen times a day….keep it up! Grazie Mille 4 all ur insight….Tiko Pavoni

13

Something that maybe alonso would regret

14

Another great observation sparking a fascinating discussion – it’s why I’m glued to this website! What a turn-around between Red Bull and McLaren. Two seasons ago this would have been the scene at RBR. RBR was perceived as a harmonic, fresh and fun-loving team whilst McLaren had a very straight-laced corporate image behind Ron Dennis.

My question is why does Massa appear to be so far behind Alonso at the moment? Although he had a rough ride at Montreal, he still seems to be struggling to mix it with the top five (and perhaps even Kubica).

15

He is getting from Alonso what he was dishing to Kimi – its called Karma

16
George Strysky

Has everyone forgotten the season so far for Hamilton? His sense of entitlement, frantic drives, arguing with the team over the team radio, and the questionable way he assumed pole (running his fuel down too low) here in Montreal? A good drive is a good drive but he has a lot to prove yet. And he will need the team that he has alienated in the past to do it. I hope he has learned something from Jensen about the importance of motivating the team. And his girlfriend can teach him something about being a champion – she worked hard all season on Dancing with the Stars. She made no excuses, remained respectful and composed at all times. In the end she won and did it with respect and dignity and as part of a team. I found the comparison between Lewis’ season and hers revealing. I have yet to see these traits in Lewis. Can she teach him something? Yes I am serious.

17

@ Darren, you need you head read mate. Hamilton did not blow Alonso away in ’07! They got the same number of wins and same number of points. All 2007 proved was how much of a talent Hamilton is as did 2008, 2009 and 2010. It always re-inforced how talented Alonso is. In no way did it prove that either driver was better than the other!!

But I do agree with your last comment, Button has been impressive, as has Hamilton.

18

“Button has been impressive, as has Hamilton.”

The comment gives the impression both drivers have been “equally” impressing. i.e, none more impressive than the other (this is how i read he comment). If correct, then the opinion is clearly wrong.

It seems people, esp British fans are loathe to say Lewis has driven much better than Jenson this year. Whilst Jenson has been good, Lewis has been MUCH better. Why cant they acknowledge this? Consistently having between 2/10ths – 4/10ths over your team mate does not constitute “evenly matched” – A phrase that seems to be over used when describing the Lewis/Jenson situation so far.

I mean, if we can argue whether Lewis “blew” Alonso away in his rookie year, then we can conclude that he has comprehensively “destroyed” Button, based on the statistics so far. This year, Lewis has out performed Jenson on every single statistic you care to measure, except race wins – on which they are tied. And if we both drivers DNF’s into account(Lewis – 1, Jenson – 1), both through no fault of theirs, then Lewis would be leading the championship with a much bigger gap.

Why we we just call a spade a spade. Jenson has been good this year, and performed against expectations – but he is NOT evenly matched against Lewis.

19

Didn’t Lewis have to go to the stewards in China along with Vettel that’s why he didn’t have time to get the vicory shirt on.

20

Great article. There’s something about this McLaren team which is so incredibly strong with two world class drivers and is highlighting the shortcomings of Ferrari and Red Bull. Button and Hamilton could be a devastating era.

21

Let’s not get carried away. So far McLaren have started off on the wrong foot two seasons in a row though worse in 2009 than 2010 so they are not that dorminant. Their engineering is good but not miles ahead. Lowe is yet to establish himself as a genius on this front. Without engineering brilliance, one can’t claim to be dorminant in Formula 1 regadless of the quality of its drivers.

Besides the team is not really that gelled – the strategy calls have been questionable on occasion (Singapore) as have been pitstop performances. If the Red Bull were as bullet proof as its competitors McLaren would be a ways back. Who says they can’t fix their reliability gremlins before the year end? Ferrari could also come back on the development front. So far it has been more noise on their part than action but only a fool can assume the Italian side will not catch up soon. If they do, they also have a very determined pair of drivers – Alonso particularly is vey hardy.

McLaren are in a good place right now but far from being dorminant.

22

A very good article, Mclaren was the best team this weekend, they were the best team a fortnight ago by default.

I think Redbull have some people in the back ground causing problems for them, but they were very quiet last weekend so lets hope they are under control now. To be fair to Redbull they were more competative than I expected and the team seems pretty happy with their result. I wonder if the controversy from Turkey had caused some disruptions to their prepareation?

Im not to sure about Ferrari They have strait line speed and arguably the best driver in the championship in Alonso.I think you need to look at Massa’s recent results to get a real handle on the car performance.

Mercedes/ Brawn, well I’m not sure if they will make much of a fist of things this year. Schumarcher looked frustrated and clearly had no answer to the lack of pace.

Renault, I think they will continue to improve they seem to have 2 very good drivers that they can build the team around,if Redbull don’t get their act together that’s the team I will follow next year.

23

Renault – very impressive. Its a good thing that they have lifted their game after the scandals of 2009. I always felt they didnt need Flavio that much. Happens they didnt need him at all!

24

as a mclaren fan and a lewis fan, i really hope that lewis can show the same support and encouragement that button has. a true testament to lewis’ growth would be if he showed the same love for button if he was outclassed by button all weekend. i really hope these two continue this way for many years because mclaren is now truly in perfect position to dominate for the rest of the season.

25

A nice angle for your story, and a point well worth making.

McLaren has always (at least from Ron Dennis onwards) been a byword for efficiency not only in Motorsport but as the very model of an ultra successful small business, all done in a very British way, success was noted not with wild celebrations, but with a quiet nod as a job well done. Setbacks were never met with hysteria, but viewed as an opportunity to learn and grow stronger, and rarely was the same mistake ever repeated.

To quote Kipling “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same;…..Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!’

It’s interesting to note that with Whitmarsh at the wheel they seem to have lost none of the efficiency while actually looking like they are enjoying what they are doing, great for them, great for the sponsors.

I see them growing in strength for the rest of the season while the competition begin to panic.

Kipling again.

IF you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs…

26

“Kipling again.

IF you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs…” – was a favorite quote of my Principal in high school but sensibly one of the obvious things you can use to gain competitive advantage when it is dificult to differentiate a product

27

Have been thinking about the situation with Button at McLaren.

Alonso V Hamilton at McLaren = Alonso blown away by a rookie …fact

kovalainen V Hamilton at McLaren=kovalainen destroyed by Hamilton

Button V Hamilton at McLaren= Button pushing Hamilton every race lap

Very impressed with Button, I believe Lewis is a better racer for having Button in the team.

28

Yes, very objective…Alonso blown away and Button is pushing:-)

29

I think Button has had more effect on Hamilton than just his driving. Button has a very calm demeanor (even when angry), highly juxtaposed by Hamilton questioning the team during the race in Australia (as one example). I think Lewis is taking some cues as I am sure he sees how the team has been very response to Button since his arrival.

30

James – Was it just me of did Lewis & Jenson look a bit bemused at the dissapearance of their interview desk after the race and were joking around with regards to their “interview jackets”?

Good to see the drivers on stools again, just like in 1993 =)

31

I think the “new” McLaren would’ve been a better fit for Alonso. It’s too bad.

32

It tells me they are a few steps away from dominance, but not a single step ahead of over confidence and arrogance. It also tells me they are as happy the F1 allows you to be.

Fingers crossed we’ll get more pictures like this.

33

Are there any good, hopefully objective, books about the relationship between Mosely and Dennis?

34

More exclusive ludicrous praise for Button with zero for a extraordinarily great drive from Hamilton. Never mind, most of us know what we saw and that was intelligence, skill and speed from Hamilton and well may it continue.

35

Great photo and great to see Dennis in it, real shame Lewis’s father can’t support his son like Jenson’s, there’s a big story there I think.

The way McLaren have pulled together showing us yet again how they develop the car better than others and without a doubt Jenson has added to the team and in my opinion improved as a driver, especially as a racer which is what most F1 fans want to see.

The problem for McLaren as I see it is it won’t be long before Ferrari put all there resource behind Alonso and that could make all the difference to whom becomes F1 champion in 2010, how will the FIA and Todt handle that one James?

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