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How good is McLaren ?: Loss of time not only on the straights

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How good is McLaren?
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B is long the distance from McLaren-Honda to the top shortened at each Grand Prix. In a Q1 comparison, the gap shrank from 2.836 (Australia) to 2.367 (Malaysia), 1.774 (China) and 1.277 seconds (Bahrain). That's an improvement of 0.519 seconds on average per GP weekend. When asked about this, Fernando Alonso said, tormented: 'If we continue like this, we will soon be on pole position.' Jenson Button was still two laps short of the lead in Melbourne. After the double retirement in Sepang, the McLaren were only narrowly lapped in China and Bahrain. Alonso in Shanghai was separated from 10th place by 47.626 seconds before the safety car phase. A week later, the Spaniard could smell tenth place. He was flagged in eleventh place 3.978 seconds behind Felipe Massa.

With 80 HP less, 14.9 km /h are missing

So far, McLaren-Honda results have always been blamed on the engine. Honda takes no chances for safety reasons. In Bahrain, the Japanese stayed 80 hp under their own route. At top speed, Alonso lost 14.9 km /h to class leader Williams in the final training. If we add 80 hp, the difference would be bearable.

In Malaysia, McLaren surprised with an excellent acceleration. At the measuring point at the exit from curve 9, all that matters is traction. There Alonso was in 6th place with 139.2 km /h. Only 4 km /h slower than Lewis Hamilton. That speaks for good mechanical grip in the car, but also for excellent drivability of the engine. The punch is simply missing from the top.

But is McLaren really only losing its time on the straights? A statement by Button in Bahrain puzzles us. 'The car is very well balanced and easy to drive. But now it's time to look for downforce.' We put the test to the test and examined the McLaren on the first four racetracks in the sectors where the downforce counts more than engine power.

In the corners, McLaren lacks 3 percent

In Melbourne this is sector 3 with 6 curves and 2 straights. There McLaren lost 2.431 seconds to the best. That corresponds to 7.081 percent of the total sector time. In the passages where engine power has a decisive influence, the gap fell by 1.652 seconds (sector1) and 1.195 seconds (sector 2) lower. That corresponds to 5.746 and 5.147 percent of the time spent in the section.

Okay, Melbourne was the first race. McLaren and Honda not sorted correctly due to lack of test kilometers. But the picture of Melbourne continues in Sepang, Shanghai and Sakhir. Except that the gaps are shrinking. On the Malaysia GP course, the middle section is the chassis sector. McLaren is 1.115 seconds or 3.327 percent behind. In the power segments, 0.632 seconds or 2.539 percent (Sector 1) and 0.982 seconds or 2.369 percent (Sector 3) are missing.

In China, the loss is evenly distributed over the three sections of the route. In the curviest sector 2, 1.009 seconds or 3.516 percent are missing. The gap in Sector 1 is 0.957 seconds or 3.810 percent. In sector 3 with the eternally long straight, it is 1.509 seconds or 3.598 percent.

We come to Bahrain. The first section stands out with half the home straight, three curves and another straight over 555 meters in length. McLaren loses most of its deficit here with 1.698 seconds. That corresponds to 5.763 percent of the sector time.

In the third sector, despite a similar distribution between straights and curves, it is only 0.640 seconds and 2.761 percent. And in the middle part of the route with 7 curves and 2 straights? McLaren are 1.147 seconds short. That is 2.874 percent and as much as in the power segment.

The figures show that McLaren also has to retrofit the MP4-30. Peter Prodromou's aero squad still has to find contact pressure. Good vehicle balance isn't always a good sign. Fast cars are often a bit critical even at the limit. More power from the engine also helps aerodynamics. Then you don't have to drive around with Monza wings everywhere.

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