Top 6 Reasons Why McLaren Fans Shouldn’t be Worried in 2011
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally intended to be the “Top 10” reasons for McLaren fans to feel good going into 2011, but I could only come up with 6. Apologies.
If you have access to an internet-enabled web device and decided to read about F1 in the last 2 days, then you already know that McLaren, their drivers, and most of their fans are cautiously pessimistic about the impending 2011 World Championship season. Tweets, news, and statuses were all doom and gloom about the MP4-26’s performances and limiting running thus far in testing, and so in turn were McLaren’s prospects according to many a worried fan for the upcoming season.
Well, fret not my tea-drinking Macca friends from o’er the pond. I’ve come all the way from Amarika to give you my top 6 reasons why McLaren fans shouldn’t worry a bit about the upcoming Formula One season. It will be a cracking, spot-on banger!*
*I don't know what any of that means
REASON 6: The MP4-26 is the best-looking car – again
To clarify, best-looking is not synonymous with fast-looking. But the MP4-26 – as the McLaren challenger has been for the last 14 years; ever since the MP4-12 was launched in 1997 – is the most beautiful machine on the grid. Sure, I realize this doesn’t affect performance and therefore points scoring potential, but dammit, it should be worth at least 5 bonus points per season. McLaren and their livery design team take what others treat as just a 200mph billboard with pinstripes, ghastly colors and goofy tribal shapes and turn it into something truly beautiful — every year since 1997.
From sidepod (title) sponsors West, to Johnnie Walker, and now Vodafone – no car has a better-looking paint scheme than the McLaren. Even when it just said “Mika”, “David”, “Kimi”, “Juan”, or “Pedro” on the side, it was still the sharpest color-scheme around. It’s all in the sidepods, baby – it’s all in the sidepods. And now that they’re U-shaped, we should all feel like that’s going to make it faster over time and (for reasons unknown to myself and fellow non-engineers / aerodynamicists) shouldn’t be surprised when we see other teams changing their own sidepod profiles throughout this season and next to match the McLaren U-Pod.
REASON 5: One of your drivers is named ‘Lewis Hamilton’
He’s about as “gangsta” as… well… a British racing driver; but damn he’s fast. And entertaining behind the wheel. And perhaps most importantly, he’s damned ballsy, too. Surely McLaren fans must feel the same amount of reassurance as I do fear when Lewis is on a charge through the field with his next target in sight.
And for the record, he won Spa 2008 fair and square. That tremendous drive from a 2nd year pilot in mixed conditions against the likes of the one they call “the ICEMAN” was epic. Lewis gave the position back and then some, slowing while crossing behind the Finn from left to right whilst out-smarting and later out-braking veteran Kimi that rainy day in Belgium. That should be gospel coming from an Alonso fan.
I assure you, it’s every bit as awkward to compliment Hamilton when you’re an Alonso fan as it is for Hamilton fans to say something nice about Alonso. Lucky for me (while puzzling for others), they’re my 2 favorite drivers. When you have Lewis Hamilton driving for you, it’s a reassuring feeling. Sure, he might make a dumb mistake or 2 a season where he bins the car, someone else’s in the pit lane, or just dumps it in the gravel during a high pressure race; but it’s all the times in between where he’s pure magic. He’s the outright fastest driver in the sport, and he would have won WDC last year with 2 races to spare had he been given the RB6 to drive. Much like his counterpart at Ferrari, Hamilton doesn’t need the best car. It just needs to be good enough.
REASON 4: Nobody gets on with development throughout the season like McLaren
In the last 10 years, McLaren have continually managed to demonstrate that not only is the car they end the year with radically different from the one they start the year with, but it’s generally much faster, too.
Sure, recent testing restrictions have infringed upon McLaren’s ability to close or increase the gap throughout the season, but even still 2010’s challenger usually got a bit better every race. No reason to expect less this year. And there’s every reason to expect good development feedback from Button, too.
REASON 3: McLaren invented the F-Duct
Need I say more? Sure it’s banned for the 2011 season, but still… they came up with it. Who knows what other ideas are on the MP4-26 that don’t require a plainly visible snorkel?
REASON 2: Dennis may be “gone”, but he’s still looking over Whitmarsh’s shoulder
While seeing Ron Dennis on the McLaren pit wall isn’t exactly a sign of encouragement for some McLaren fans, it is for me. See, under the control of Ron, McLaren has won 10 Driver’s World Championships. If my math is correct, that’s 10 more championships than Martin Whitmarsh has won as Team Principal.
I realize Ron Dennis is tackling many new ventures not associated with grand prix racing, but I also happen to know 5th-hand that his mouth is in Whitmarsh’s ear. He may not be wearing the white shirt and Kenwood headset much anymore, but he still wants McLaren to win, and he’s keeping a close eye on the happenings in Woking and around the F1 calendar while advising Whitmarsh and other team personnel. And lastly, Lewis is like a second son to Ron; Mika of course, being the first. I’m not really sure how Mr. Dennis feels about the 3 children he actually has…
REASON 1: They’re due
Last 5 years of WDC teams and drivers:
- 2006 – Renault – Alonso
- 2007 – Ferrari – Raikkonen
- 2008 – McLaren – Hamilton
- 2009 – Brawn – Button
- 2010 – Red Bull – Vettel
If you study the pattern carefully, you’ll understand why Hamilton and McLaren are due for WDC glory in 2011: