At the very start of the weekend, as soon as I saw the McLaren on track, I tweeted my views:
Catching up on FP2 – I’d bet on Jenson to do well if I were you, he seems very pleased in a stable McLaren. #f1— Literal F1 (@LiteralF1) March 16, 2012
The car’s prowess was obvious from the outset- it’s front end was responsive to driver inputs, had great mechanical grip and had the one thing others lacked- stability. There was no veering out of control motions, no trips to the gravel trip and no need to fight the car mid corner. It just looked supple and smooth on the track, imbibing confidence in the drivers to push it to the limit. 1
Whilst they didn’t have any media gathering innovation like Mercedes’ F-Duct or the weight of expectation upon them like Ferrari or Red Bull, they were quietly confident. Martin Whitmarsh yesterday revealed in an interview McLaren didn’t have any upgrades for this race, since they believed they had gotten everything to this race. Now it was a case of maximising the package already in hand.
Some might say, why is this even surprising? They ended 2011 with the fastest car on the field so had a great base to refine and improve even further. They did just that. Whilst Ferrari were perplexed to the extent they didn’t understand what the car was doing at times and Red Bull were playing around with complex blown exhaust exhaust configurations, McLaren had a solid winter. They had their big upgrade package early on in the final test, extensively and reliably tested it then started working on setting the car up best.
McLaren haven’t started well for the previous 3 seasons. They’ll always had to fight against the flow and develop their car to catch up with Mr Newey. Everyone around the paddock knows of the immense development resources they possess and utilising them, they’ve managed to get their car up to speed in no time in previous seasons. In 2009, they turned a disastrous car into a dominant, car winning one before half season. In 2010, they were always the second fastest and steadily closing the gap to Red Bull. In 2011, they overtook Red Bull to become the fastest.
In 2012, it’s time they take the MP4-27 where the MP4-13 last went – the constructors championship. After 14 years, primed with two world champion drivers and the fastest car, McLaren have the onus upon them to show us exactly why they’re the most successful team in Formula One. 2