29 July 2012
150 not out for McLaren
McLaren celebrates a 150th pole position in Hungary
Lewis Hamilton's stunning performance in qualifying at the Hungaroring marked the 150th time that McLaren has claimed pole position for an F1 race.
To celebrate the landmark, a number of key figures from within the team recall their first pole…
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“I joined McLaren in 1989, and my first race with the team was in 1990. It was the US Grand Prix in Phoenix, an unusual place to hold a Formula 1 race – but it was a very successful event for the team. Gerhard Berger took pole position on his McLaren debut, outclassing Ayrton Senna – which was a great achievement. However, Ayrton went on to take victory, following a memorable dice with Jean Alesi in the anhedral-nosed Tyrrell. It was a pretty good race with which to start my McLaren career!”
“It was the 2001 San Marino Grand Prix. I'd only recently started and we were putting Ferrari under a lot of pressure to hold on to their dominance. David [Coulthard] had won in Brazil a fortnight earlier and we were looking good at Imola, David taking pole position and leading an all-McLaren-Mercedes front row with Mika [Hakkinen] second. Ralf Schumacher took his first grand prix victory on the Sunday and we only finished second and fourth in the race, with David once again leading us home, but those were exciting times for me.”
Director of engineering
“I joined McLaren Racing on June 6 1990, so my first race as a member of the team was the 1990 Canadian Grand Prix. Those were fantastic days for the team: Ayrton put MP4-5B on pole and Gerhard backed him by qualifying second. It was a pretty chaotic, wet race, won by Ayrton – I don't remember too much about those early years, but I almost certainly came into the factory and watched the race from there, as I tended to do that back then.”
“The first pole position after I arrived at McLaren in June 1993 was at the final race of the year in Adelaide, Australia. After a difficult year, it was McLaren and Ayrton's only pole of the season. Of course, it also became Ayrton's last grand prix win.
“The significance for me was that I'd arrived at McLaren from Williams and had been fortunate enough to have been able to identify and develop some immediate performance gains, leading a team developing a powered brake-assistance system worth up to one second per lap. Despite knowing it would be banned for 1994, we got it onto the car for the final three races, scoring a win at Suzuka and pole and victory in Australia.
“I still feel very privileged and proud to have been able to work with Ayrton so briefly, yet to have contributed to his final pole and victory.”
Director of design and development programmes
“My first McLaren grand prix pole position was also McLaren's first-ever grand prix pole – albeit watched from the grandstands at Paddock Hill Bend as a young(-ish) schoolboy who'd cycled to Brands Hatch to watch the 1968 Race of Champions!
“On that day, Bruce McLaren took the honours – but it was followed a few weeks later by Denny Hulme winning the Daily Express race at Silverstone, and Bruce taking the team's first Formula 1 victory at Spa. An exhilarating time for the team.
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