Is McLaren now the 4th fastest team in F1?

Having struggled through a damp British Grand Prix weekend, McLaren are truly leaving Silverstone with a black cloud over their heads. The team from Woking experienced a difficult weekend in which they were outpaced by Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus, Mercedes and nearly the Williams of Bruno Senna.

Lewis Hamilton says he’s unclear on why the team lack so much pace:

“We tried as hard as we could, but we just didn’t have the pace and I don’t know why,” said Hamilton. “I was in the lead at one point and I don’t understand how I could be there and then go all the way back to where I started. I pushed all the way, I did all I could, but…”

While Jenson Button sheds stark light on just where thinks McLaren are seated in the competitive ladder:

“We’re just not there on pace,” Button said. “It’s not just the Red Bull which is stronger than us, it’s the Ferraris, the Lotuses and even the Williams and the Sauber. It’s tough.

“The car is just not quick enough at the moment and we need to improve it.”

The team won the season-opener in Australia and again in Canada but since then, the pace and performance has struggled under the weight of the development war that always accompanies a Formula One season. Struggling to find the answer, team sporting director Sam Michael said:

“It’s not the performance we really want to have,” he explained to Sky Sports F1. “We struggled in qualifying yesterday and didn’t really have good starting positions. During the race itself, one thing we were trying to do was keep off the option tyre because we suffered with a lot of graining on it. But I think generally as the car pace, it would be respectable if we had a better starting position.

“The problem is when you drop back into the field you suffer behind other cars and the cars are so close now if you suffer any downforce loss in the wake [of them] it extrapolates during the grand prix. So you can see areas where we caught up quickly to the cars in front and then couldn’t get through quickly.

“It’s not where we want to do and we’ll go away and do a lot of homework on it and make sure it’s faster for the next time.”

If there is a theme emerging from team comments this season, it is the notion of running behind cars or being seated in traffic and the effect it has on the Pirelli tire compounds. Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi shared a similar sentiment recently. It is one of the key issues for McLaren this year with Button’s inability to get on top of tire management (something he’s actually known for) and Hamilton’s reversal of tire management fortune making a much better show of it in 2012. Sundays’ race seemed equally daunting for both drivers, however, and the team are intent of finding the problem,


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