F1 »

Singing a different tune...

There appear to be two very distinct - and very different - messages coming out of McLaren-Mercedes ahead of the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, reflects our features correspondent Max Davies...
“It's simply too early to say anything definitive about the MP4-26 or indeed about any other 2011 F1 car.”

Last week, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh contradicted everything his two drivers had to say about the latest offering from the Woking-based team. He continued:

“Time without number, motorsport pundits have come unstuck when they've attempted to extrapolate testing times to predict race results, and I'm not about to join their number now.”

True enough, there have been countless examples of journalists making predictions that have turned out to be about as correct and truthful as the time a British newspaper reported that a No.8 double-decker bus had been sighted on the moon.

However, when your two highest-paid employees are busy telling the world that their car is not capable of winning or indeed anywhere near the pace of Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, who is the public more likely to believe?

Over lunch a few weeks ago, McLaren's MD Jonathan Neale batted away suggestions from a handful of website journalists that all was not well with the MP4-26 following its debut the previous day at Jerez.

Witnesses at the track said it looked nervous, and was struggling to maintain consistent lines. The team insisted it was busy focussing on installation programmes. Neale was adamant that this was just testing and that despite their lap accumulations and pace over short-fuel runs, Red Bull, Ferrari and Renault were not that far ahead.

Point was, though, that they were far ahead and all the evidence suggests that the situation remains unchanged. McLaren's plan to utilise the late launch date as a means to fine-tune their car and unleash a race-winner has, unfortunately, failed.

Back in 1988, with F1 giants Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna on the driving strength, the team rocked up at Imola amid murmurings that it had got its sums wrong and that its Honda engine was going to be too thirsty with the new-for-that-year fuel limit and boost limit on turbo power units. Rivals said the late launch of the car would lead to insufficient time to develop it and that they would be in trouble while Ferrari – who had won the two previous races and been the pace-setters to date – were looking strong.

The first lap in anger saw the McLaren MP4-4 cross the line a staggering 1.5 seconds faster than anyone else had managed. And the rest is, as they say, history...

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
09.03.2011- Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
09.03.2011- Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
08.03.2011- Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
21.02.2011 - Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
08.03.2011- Mclaren Mercedes
18.02.2011- Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
13.02.2011- Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
13.02.2011- Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
12.02.2011- Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
10/2/201- Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26
Sunday, Stefano Domenicali (ITA), Head of the Gestione Sportiva and Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer Mclaren
Saturday, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer Mclaren
Thursday Practice1, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer
Friday, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer
Martin Whitmarsh with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. McLaren MP4-26 launch [Pic credit: McLaren]
Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren Mercedes, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), McLaren, Chief Executive Officer
29.04.2017 - Qualifying, Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32
29.04.2017 - Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H pole position

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


March 14, 2011 11:32 PM

As long as they are quicker than lotus and mercedes etc they're not in too much bother. They've built a reputation of being one of (if not) the best teams at developing their car over the year. If they can take some 4/5 places from these opening rounds with Webber, Vettel and Alonso taking points off each other and get the car sorted for the start of the european season it'll be far from a disaster. As shown last season with 19/20 races you can still compete for the championship even if you do have a period in the season where you are short of form. (both McLaren and Ferrari did) It will just mean they will have to make sure these first few races are the only ones they are short of pace in.

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.