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Mid-term review McLaren: general overhaul brings back success

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T McLaren won his first title before the season. The MP4-27 is the prettiest car in the field. Because in addition to the Marussia, he does without the ugly kink in his nose. Even after the nose facelift, the dent can only be guessed at. But optics alone do not win a world championship. Therefore, many in the scene were relieved when McLaren dominated the first race and looked like the World Cup favorite until the Chinese GP. There was always some McLaren driver on the podium. It smelled of Constance, while the competition moved up and down like an elevator.

The turning point came with the GP Bahrain. Suddenly you heard sayings from the McLaren camp that you had only been used to from other teams until then. 'We don't understand the tires,' complained driver and technician in the same voice. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh also changed his diction. Suddenly it was no longer: 'Whoever develops the fastest becomes world champion.' No, the McLaren boss reworded: 'If you are the first to understand the tires, you will win the title.'

Apparently McLaren had not understood them at all. The bankruptcy of Bahrain was followed by an outstanding training record by Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona, ​​which he was denied because he was left behind on the run-out lap. A mechanic accidentally put too little fuel in the tank. Judging by Hamilton's speed, the Spanish GP would have been easy prey for him. In Monte Carlo, McLaren only offered mediocrity. Just to be won in Canada 14 days later. Hamilton insists this win came as a surprise. 'I still don't know why we won there.' In Valencia and Silverstone, lean food was the order of the day again. Until McLaren turned things around in Hockenheim with a general overhaul of the MP4-27. But more on that later.

McLaren has to convert the car

The question of what happened after the Chinese GP that McLaren was able to slide into the crisis is interesting. The engineers are silent about it. Jenson Button once mentioned casually that after that he was never able to use the setup settings with which he won the Australian GP. This brings us closer to the truth. McLaren had to convert its cars to Shanghai at the behest of the FIA. Not much, but too much.

The front runner of the underbody was bent upwards by three millimeters more than allowed. McLaren argued that this was under theTolerance rule had happened. That's right, said the FIA, but this area is there to cushion manufacturing tolerances and not to allow the three millimeters to flow into the construction of the underbody. Those three millimeters extra allowed McLaren to position the car more forward. Because of the long lever, the nose could be lowered by several centimeters. So strong that scratches from the asphalt were found under the front wing end plates. So Red Bull can't complain. Other teams at the FIA ​​also had to give up, but this happened much more quietly.

With the ban and its consequences for the use of the vehicle, the entire aerodynamic flow of the car was no longer correct. McLaren needed improvements, especially at the rear. The diffuser was stolen from the expansion surface, i.e. downforce, due to the reduced angle of the car. The higher nose was a first step on the way back, because at least more air under the car could be directed through to the diffuser. The breakthrough was only achieved in Hockenheim with a new rear section. More contact pressure at the rear meant that the engineers were also able to improve the front wing in order to rebalance the car. The retouching of Hungary was then just fine tuning. The whole step is said to have brought six tenths, according to Whitmarsh. A quantum leap.

Breakthrough with a new nose and a new tail

Button was already capable of winning at Hockenheim. Hamilton won in Budapest. Bad luck for McLaren: In the problematic races, Button got so much behind that he is out of the title race. And Hamilton is already 47 points behind Fernando Alonso. A lot of wood in such a tightly contested championship. From now on, McLaren will have to bet all chips on Hamilton if they want to catch up with Alonso. It doesn't look good in the constructors' cup either. Last year's runner-up is in second place, but is 53 points behind Red Bull and is getting a lot of pressure from Lotus and Ferrari. The biggest drawback is still the high level of tire wear. Speed ​​alone won't win a title in 2012. Now it is not just the chassis technicians and aerodynamicists from Woking who are in demand. There is also a clear order in the specifications for engine partner Mercedes. The power delivery of the Mercedes V8 has to be smoother so that the rear tires stay alive longer.


World Championship place: 2 (Hamilton P4, Button P7)
World Championship points: 193
Wins: 3
Pole positions: 3
Fastest race lap: 1
Podiums: 8
Points placements: 16
Race kilometers: 6554.4 km (P2)
Leading kilometers: 847.8 km (P2)
Target arrivals /cancellations: 18/4


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