Are McLaren Diluting Their WDC Efforts By Not Backing A Number 1?

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Data suggests than Lewis Hamilton is the faster McLaren driver by approximately 3-tenths about 70 to 75 percent of the time and that he represents McLaren's best/better chance of adding to their Championship trophy case when it comes to collecting wins and points.

Championship trophies have been hard to come by at Woking since the Hakkinen days with Raikkonen, Hamilton and Alonso all coming close to lifting those trophies every other year between 2003 and 2007 until it finally happened in 2008...And, nothing since then.

That's just one official Championship victory out of 22 potential Championships since 1999, the 2007 WCC having been taken away due to points penalties. For a team used to one title after another with the likes of Senna, Prost, Hakkinen and Lauda, that's simply not good enough, especially with McLaren Group out to brand themselves as 'the British Ferrari' in the Supercar market.

So...why have they been going about the past 25 Grand Prix races looking like an organization that
doesn't want to hurt Jenson Button's 'feelings' (for lack of a better word)?

Does the McLaren Group not have enough confidence in the abilities of Lewis Hamiton to back him to the hilt?

Why does it seem like the McLaren race team go about their meetings not optimising performance and race strategy for what every team manager, pundit and F1 racing observer (like ourselves, I suppose) imagines is their 'true' Number 1 driver?

Why are Hamilton's pitstops not at a quality level of, say, Ferrari's for Alonso or even Red Bull's for Vettel (notwithstanding the Monaco error)? Especially in a Formula One which has a high number of pitstops?

Does McLaren really have the luxury of 'diluting' their efforts between two drivers when the outside competition is so stiff?

Is 1 solitary World Championship out of 22 possible ones a good result for a marque like McLaren?

If not, then why are they going about their motor racing so sub-optimally with respect to the driver known to be one of the very best in the business, the driver who represents their most realistic probability of toppling the likes of a Vettel?

Thoughts?
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
McLaren have always said and in this case, I believe them, that they will let their drivers race and that's it, in my opinion, yes Hamilton may be the better driver on occasion but doesn't a racing "team" have the duty of care to both of it's drivers to provide them with the same machinery and the same ability to win?

Personally I don't agree with a team having a de-facto #1 and #2 but will fully accept that within teams there are stronger and weaker drivers, Ferrari have done it for years, Red Bull seem to be gravitating that way, and yes if a driver is naturally faster he may well come out on top but the favouritism shown to one or another is a little belittling imho. (Webber's nose swapped for Vettel when his "failed" at Silverstone - Webber again "not bad for a #2 - Anything to do with Felipe Massa etc ad nauseam)
 
Speshal, no one's suggesting they shouldn't have the same machinery. In fact, they've had the same machinery and, from that equal footing, Hamilton has demonstrated that he can extract superior performance in relation to Button over 25 races. Given that demonstration, McLaren seemed not to have reciprocated. In Monaco they should have sent out Hamilton for a banker lap in Q3 (around the same time Button went out). In China, Hamilton lost time and places (notably to Massa) because Button didn't come in on the lap he was supposed to, leaving Hamilton to twist in the wind for an extra lap on rapidly degrading tyres.

It seems to me McLaren's mantra to maintain some outward appearence of 'equality' is actually translating into Hamilton being compromised on qualifying and race strategy as well as pitstops. Are McLaren interested in winning championships or not? They can't afford to molly coddle the slower driver in an effort to not hurt his feelings in an era when the competition is stiff.

It's not like the late 1980s when they had the most powerful engines (Honda) and the two best drivers of the era all to themselves whilst their primary opposition were flailing around with Judd engines, weaker drivers and second rate preparation. They're in a fight against mighty opposition and they need to pour their energies into maximizing their fastest and best drivers' weekends. This doesn't mean giving Button inferior equipment. It means, at the very least, treating Hamilton at least as well as Button when it comes to approaching Qually and the races...and at least not cocking up Hamilton's pitstops.

In the end Jenson is a very good Formula One driver. Hamilton, however, is more than 'very good'. He's exceptional...and he's McLaren's best chance of getting their 2nd drivers title since 1999. Only 1 drivers title in 12 years is simply not good enough for the 2nd biggest team in F1 now and in F1 history, especially the last four decades.
 

chris1981

Points Scorer
I agree with Ray in that the amount of titles won by Mclaren is not really high enough based on their size/history/capability etc. I aslo agree that should they back 1 driver, in this case Hamilton, they have more of a chance of success. I am a Hamilton fan so obviously hope that he will win.

However, I am glad that Mclaren allow their drivers to "go racing". When Hamilton and Button are racing on track and go wheel to wheel I know its a genuine race and that I will be able to see the better driver on the day come out on top. I wouldnt want to see Hamilton allowed a "free pass" if they are meant to be competing on track. Obviously if they are on different strategies so find themselves on track together for a few laps, but not really racing thats a different issue.

Part of me would feel a bit disappointed if Hamilton won the drivers championship having been allowed to win a few races that Button wold have (if Button is out of contention for the championship mathematically then again its a different case). On a seperate note entirely I like Arsenal football team because of the way they play. Its not always successful (lack of trophies lately!) but they play in what I see is the "right way". Similarly, I like to view Mclaren as the team that go racing in the "right way".
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
A few points on this.
If McLaren had employed this tactic last year, would Lewis have won the wdc over vettel? I would suggest not. Excluding China, which imo was too early in the season, the only real benefit would have been a couple of points in Japan, not enough.

Does ensuring that one driver is given the best possible chance to win mean that you cannot do the same for both drivers? The insinuating of your Monaco example is that Lewis was impacted in qualifying to help Jenson, and despite some conspiracy theories, I do not think that stacks up.

From the teams perspective, the money shot is the constructor championship, over the drivers, and to do well there, you need to strong performers, and a good car. In 08 there are rumours that Lewis was favoured over heikki, but was so far off Lewis that the wcc was won by ferrari, who had two strong drivers.

My opinion is that McLaren should work on improving race strategy, as the drivers have proven good enough to win races.

I do not believe that they need to or should favour one driver over another.
 

Sarinaide

Banned
I dont really think that a lot of Hamiltons mishaps are because the team are not backing him, I say this openly that there is no doubt that Hamilton is the McLaren no1 driver and the team see it as so, but the problems are arising out of team mistakes (strategy) and driver error (Hamilton) so that said it is not like say Ferrari's position where Alonso has to do everything or Ferrari are going to be disappointing. In McLaren's perspective it is a combination of errors that are hurting any of the teams drivers chances of a WDC.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
As others have said, McLaren's poor pitstops are unrelated to their driver hierarchy. Your threads would be easier to respond to if you asked, say, 1 or 2 questions rather than 12.

But briefly, being a successful driver is about more than raw speed, and Button is very frequently closer to Hamilton in races than he is in qualifying; he's a more considered driver, and is able to direct the team on strategy, something Lewis still seems incapable of.

Plus, McLaren are very interested in the constructor's championship. Having a #1 and #2 would be a hindrance to that rather than a help, IMO.
 

Road of Bones

MTC Mole
Contributor
Agree with Chris1981 - I like the way McLaren go racing, where there is no clear favouritism. If you want team orders, go support Ferrari with their vile Machiavellian internal politics.

If Lewis is so bloody brilliant (and Jenson so inferior), then why isn't he "doing a Heikki" on him? Sorry Ray, I think your basic premise is flawed here.
 

Bullet190

Points Scorer
I like the fact that McLaren allow their drivers to race, that way when one beats the other you know it's down to driver ability and nothing else. What's a shame is there are few teams that behave this way and there lies the problem.
Unfortunately a higher percentage of WDC have been won by teams favoring one driver, it works, Schumacher and Ferrari proved that with his 7 titles. I don't much care for it but unless the rest of the teams stop doing it overnight as the saying goes......if you can't beat them - join them.
Red Bull seem to have adopted this stance.
 

RickD

Pole Sitter
I like the fact that McLaren allow their drivers to race, that way when one beats the other you know it's down to driver ability and nothing else. What's a shame is there are few teams that behave this way and there lies the problem.
Unfortunately a higher percentage of WDC have been won by teams favoring one driver, it works, Schumacher and Ferrari proved that with his 7 titles. I don't much care for it but unless the rest of the teams stop doing it overnight as the saying goes......if you can't beat them - join them.
Red Bull seem to have adopted this stance.

If McLaren started doing that, I think I would give up on F1 altogether. I think it would also cheapen any WDCs they did gain. Lewis winning in 2008 was cheapened a bit, but then Heikki was simply not good enough in that second McLaren, so was never going to be in with a shout. Jenson at least has pushed Lewis all the way. I think it surprised Lewis last year that Jenson won in only his second outing for McLaren and Lewis realised he had to buck up his ideas a bit to get back on level terms.

This idiotic article is a great example of postulating by someone who really can't get his facts straight and seems to be ruled by his bias, nothing more..
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
It's true that they would have won the WDC in 2007 if they had backed one driver or another, but Team Orders, or lack-there-of, are certainly not "diluting" McLaren's chances for a driver's championship these days. The Woking boys simply have not produced a championship car since 2008.

Personally, I relish the Button/Hamilton battles more than any on the grid. Here you have 2 incredibly talented drivers in equal machinery, on equal footing with the team, with a burning desire to best the other guy. Lewis and Jenson have provided us with the best close combat fighting we have seen over the past two years, and I would be totally disheartened if one man was ever told to give way to the other for no other reason than "Team Orders".
 

riskitall

Points Scorer
As others have said, McLaren's poor pitstops are unrelated to their driver hierarchy. Your threads would be easier to respond to if you asked, say, 1 or 2 questions rather than 12.

But briefly, being a successful driver is about more than raw speed, and Button is very frequently closer to Hamilton in races than he is in qualifying; he's a more considered driver, and is able to direct the team on strategy, something Lewis still seems incapable of.

Plus, McLaren are very interested in the constructor's championship. Having a #1 and #2 would be a hindrance to that rather than a help, IMO.

but will jenson get more points than lewis in a season.surely thats the most important thing,and the answer is no.

when you compare each driver,you should look at the bigger picture.for example,last season they got 6 dnf between them,jenson 2 lewis 4,and in 5 of those 6 races lewis was ahead of jenson in the race and so he probably would have finished ahead of button in those races.

now eventhough lewis did have 2 more dnf's he still finished the season 26 points ahead of button.

this season,the 2 times jenson outqualified lewis was when lewis saved a set of frsh tyres in quali,and when lewis couldnt do a proper qualifying lap in q3.
and the 2 times button beat lewis in a race was when lewis didnt have enough good tyres for the race,and when lewis started in 9th in monaco.
so it looks like button needs lewis to be at a disadvantage to beat him.very rarely has button beat lewis when all things have been equal and theyve both had no problems in quali or a race.this is the reason why button wont beat lewis over a season,because most of the time things will go well in quali and the race for lewis.weekends like monaco wont happen very often to lewis.

however having said all that,im glad they're allowed to race,i just dont understand why hamiltons pitstops are usually slower than buttons.
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
Keke, the 2007 wcc would have gone to ferrari, due to the deduction of constructors points at hungary, which was nothing to do with the removal of the team from the constructors.

Riskitall, not sure of the need to go down that route, as I am not sure of the relevance in the context of the topic in hand.

If lewis is usually ahead, why the need to favour? I have already stated that the wcc is where the money is, so you need two strong !nd motivated drivers to maximise your points tally. If you end up with one marginalised driver, you risk this, then you lose a good driver, and end up with a Lewis-Heikki scenario, which will never win the wcc, and with the red bulls being as g9of as they are, I am not sure the wdc would be any more viable with extra assistance.
 
I think the OP has a valid if somewhat unpalatable point hidden there

A useful team dynamic in this Newey Red Bull nightmare era would be to allow both drivers to compete on equal terms with the winner assuming a strategically advanced position when it comes to certain realities.

For example in a race where the only chance to win is to have both teammates on split strategies where the desired result is a win for one by the combined actions of the two drivers

With Mclaren it does appear as though the Whitmarsh reign is marked by the unusual approach of doing the opposite. Instead of at least allowing the better placed driver unhindered opportunity he is sometimes handicapped by special care for the other. Making Lewis wait because Jenson missed his pitstop for example

Lewis has proven that he is a bit faster in race and much faster in quali, this should invite the team to create strategies at least that don't compromise him wrt his teammate and at best that allow the teammate to complement his

For example pitstop focus should be towards the faster driver, if there is to be a any type of bias, it doesn't make sense in an efficient operation for the faster driver to be more affected by avoidable incidents than the naturally slower one

Fortune is said to favour the brave, Mclaren do not seem to understand the basis of fortune, Red Bull do, Ferrari is a different story with a clear number one situation
It shouldn't be number one or two just number faster and slower
 

Theo_55

Rookie
But briefly, being a successful driver is about more than raw speed, and Button is very frequently closer to Hamilton in races than he is in qualifying; he's a more considered driver, and is able to direct the team on strategy, something Lewis still seems incapable of.

Plus, McLaren are very interested in the constructor's championship. Having a #1 and #2 would be a hindrance to that rather than a help, IMO.

With all due respect, Button was not at McLaren in 2008, Hamilton was in his second year in F1 and Heikki was doing little to enhance the teams results, McLaren/Hamilton won the WDC in that year without much strategic input from another driver.

I would contend that drivers have very little input on strategy, the engineers, Pit Control are more important.

McLaren's problems of late are poor strategic calls and pit crew errors, this leaves the drivers in compromised positions, thus having to push harder, this sometimes causes more on track fustrations, which leads to more errors.
 

Grizzly

Bear
Contributor
I don't get this thread? :dunno:

McLaren should be praised for allowing their drivers to race the way they do.

McLaren's drivers should be praised for the way they race each other.

McLaren have their week spots as every team does and they are guilty of not perhaps making the absolute maximum of their opportunities this season so far but, really, defacto no1? :bored:
 
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