McLaren had a difficult grand prix this past weekend with drivers Jenson Button finishing 8th and Lewis Hamilton experiencing an uncharacteristic mechanical failure with his gearbox. Weâ€™ve discussed McLarenâ€™s daunting ability to develop a car in an era of in-season testing bans and yet this year, things have been more difficult for the team.
One could argue that McLaren were looking very good at the beginning of the year with their F-Duct technology and rapid drivers but things have been touch and go with Red Bull and now Ferrari. The development race seemed to be â€œgame onâ€ for Silverstone and the upgrade package McLaren brought didnâ€™t materialize as they had hoped. This left the team re-developing and tweaking the upgrades for Germany and later Hungary.
Whether the tweaks were effective one may never know such was the performance leap by Red Bull and Ferrari to a lesser extent. McLaren were left reeling after Red Bull dominated the Hungarian Grand Prix and Ferrari were close but even the Scuderia were a second off the pace of the Red Bulls.
I am not sure what Ferrariâ€™s plans are in catching the Red Bullâ€™s and perhaps the new, revised test for the â€œflexiâ€ front wing may solve the issue but McLaren have something else to worry aboutâ€¦Lewis Hamilton right on their tail making sure they arenâ€™t slacking on the job.
“I’m just going to be on the tail of all the team, all the engineers, making sure that they’re not missing anything,” he told Reuters.
“I feel it’s just as much my job to kick them as it is for them to kick me. But if anyone can do it, we can.
“It’s going to be very hard, these seven races. We’re holding on by a thin thread at the moment,” added the 25-year-old, winner of two races this year compared to Webber’s four.
“If they (Red Bull) continue with the pace they have, then we really don’t have a huge hope. But I do believe that we can catch them.”
Letâ€™s face it; itâ€™s good to see a driver who is motivated to solve the problem. If that means being a bit of a pest around the engineering department, well I would rather have an employee I had to reign in than one I had to kick in the butt. Hamilton is taking the opposite road than, say, a Kimi Raikkonen who showed up and drove. I like his interest in the car, the development and his desire to kick some arse to get it done.
There is one key ingredient though, Hamilton will find that Schumacherâ€™s approach to working with the team was very successful and lording over anyone is not going to win friends. Taking them coffee and working late with them will. Letâ€™s hope Lewis takes the Schumacher route and get McLaren back where they belong.