July 16th, 2012 (F1plus / Ernie Black).- McLaren has had a rather confusing 2012 season thus far. At the beginning, it seemed that the MP4-27 was the car to beat. Pre-season tests showed strong, performance was good and let's face it, it was by far the nicest looking 2012 challenger with the prettiest nose. While everyone sported the stepped nose design, McLaren had cleverly penned a low nose slope that made it a supermodel when sitting next to the rest of the ugly ducklings.
Since then however, McLaren's season has been a bit of a ride at an amusement park. Thrilling but with the tendency to leave your belly somewhat upset by the end. Button won a race in rather convincing style but has not been able to come close to that form. He has even struggled to qualify quick enough to squeak into Q3.
Hamilton is driving the wheels off of his McLaren and has certainly come to grips with the new Pirelli tyres more than has his teammate but has only one victory to show for it. Botched pit stops have played their part in ruining races for both drivers as well. Sticky nuts and faulty jacks were to blame, however they seem to have resolved that issue now. Having suffered the humiliation on more than one occasion, McLaren has now redeemed itself as a team with regards to pit stops as it now holds the record for fastest ever stop.
It is this very spirit and relentless pursuit of improvement that should serve as a warning to rivals. McLaren has been at this game a long time. They have the resources, perhaps some of the best in the industry/sport. They have the drivers, budget and powerplant. They have all the tools to make a complete turn-around and become a real force to be reckoned with. Silverstone may have been the wake up call for the team that its rivals fear.
The German GP is only days away, McLaren are planning to bring a small arsenal of updates to start, with more on the horizon. I wouldn't count on them to just roll over and die. Red Bull are coming on strong again as Webber is taking the fight to Alonso. Ferrari have come a long way from the start of the season where the F2012 looked more like a horse on it's way to the glue factory than a rambunctious prancing stallion. That being said, it s quite obvious that their victories have not come from pace alone and lady luck has had a hand on their lucky butts at times.
Alonso has a wet weather victory which he almost lost to Perez if not for the Mexican losing control. His other win came only after the two drivers in front suffered similar freak electrical problems with their alternators. They still have work to do. If not for an overachieving Alonso and some luck, the picture in both the WDC and WCC would look a little different.
If McLaren luck and pace improves, expect some fireworks in the second half of the season. Get a front row seat, this is going to be very entertaining....