The most wins and the joint most poles in 2012


Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
And yet McLaren finished 3rd in the Constructors Championship 82 points behind Red Bull and their highest driver (Hamilton) only managed 4th and was 91 points behind Vettel despite only one less win and two less podiums. In the stark light of day, the 2012 championship wasn't so much won by Red Bull but thrown away by McLaren, for all but the British Grand Prix and the late Asian races (with the exception of Singapore) the McLaren was widely accepted as the quickest car, so where did the championship go?

Well firstly, looking at Hamilton, he's had 6 DNF's and perhaps most significantly, 3 of them being when he was leading a good way into the race (Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Brazil) these alone have cost Lewis 75 points which woulda put him on 265 points (provided he converted them which was looking likely), and if you knock Alonso and Vettel one place accordingly, just these races woulda put Vettel on 269 and Alonso on 269 making them level. Obviously all the situations would change race by race, but it's an interesting approximation to make just on 3 races and on this evidence alone where 2 DNF's in these 3 races were down to mechanical failures, you can see why Hamilton jumped ship.

As stated in an article in mid season, McLarens mid season development problems seemed to rear its head as after Canada McLaren had a small slump as they weren't in contention in Valencia (mainly due to more pit stop problems but they weren't on the pace of Vettel) and more significantly Silverstone where Hamilton and Button finished 8th and 10th having been off the pace in both the wet and the dry. I asked at the time whether the stepped nose was part of the problem as initially they went against the grain and went for a sloped nose and initially it brought results but the team decided to modify this in the long run and it was debated whether it was part of the slump.

However, a big part of the early loss of points was the shabby pit stops, particularly on Hamilton's car but Button also had his fair share of problems in the stops, in the first half of the season Hamilton probably lost the best part of 20/30 points just down to slow pit stops, costing him wins/podiums in Malaysia and Bahrain for example. Although this is probably the only thing McLaren managed to get right and fix in the season as Sam Michael ensured that by the end of the season (one bad stop in Brazil aside) McLaren's stops were the fastest in the grid (Button getting a 2 and a half second stop in the year), however it was these problems that put Hamilton right on the back foot and established a fairly significant gap of 30/40 points behind Alonso.

That's where the difference with Red Bull/Ferrari and McLaren lies, Ferrari's car was nowhere near the pace of the McLarens for large parts of the Championship, but on the whole, their pit stops were slick, their strategy calls were sound and Alonso was (mostly) faultless during the season and that's why he so nearly came away with the Championship, the same applies with Red Bull just that Vettel had a better car although he was prone more to mistakes but that's getting less as he gets older (but that's a debate for another thread)

Between Hakkinen's last championship and the season just gone, McLaren have only picked up one Drivers Championship and have failed to win any constructors championship with 2007 the closest they came to the WCC where they would have won it but for Spygate which disqualified them. Hamilton could/should have at least three world championships right now but currently has 'just' the one, and on the whole the reason for that isn't down to driver error or poor skills.

One thing that Ferrari and Red Bull have in common is that they both have an established number one/two driver system and you can't argue with the results it's brought them, while McLaren have persevered with the equal status positions and that's only caused inter-team problems and more critically, no championships. Some might argue that a number one/two system adopted by Ferrari will cost them the WCC title and the big sponsorship deals etc, although you only have to wonder why Santander are there and that gives a counter argument. So perhaps with Perez coming in for Hamilton could see things change at McLaren for next year and this could work to their advantage as it will be expected that Button will be the number one driver and I think that'll benefit him as well as leading the team forward will suit him and the team and this can only bring better results, providing they can finally sort out the problems that threw away this years title.
I'd also add that Hamilton's bad luck seems to pile because he's had bad luck in seasons when he's actually had a chance at the title (2010 and 2012) and conversely when he couldn't challenge his reliability was more or less bulleetproof (2009 and 2011 one apiece).

Hamilton's driven fantasically this year and I'm not a person to say who deserves the title, that being said I think he's driven the best. I can only think of one weak(ish) point this season, he should have been less naive when it came to Maldonado in Valencia but he had the right to do what he did. Alonso on the other was rather weak from Korea onwards (up until then he was great) and would have been beaten by Massa more often than not if it hadn't been for team orders. Vettel also drove excellently this year, in some ways it was more impressive than his 2011 championship, however he wasn't perfect with the cucumber incident and overtaking Button (off the track) in Germany.

McLaren must be sick with themselves. Overall the fastest car at 11 events IMO (in the dry), although Ferrari were fastest at Monza and the RB8 fastest at the other 8. Through a combination of terrible pit stops, a car that couldn't get wet tyres working and decided it had had enough half-way to a victory. The fact that they missed out on 2nd spot in the WCC is on the Button though, not the team, he was truly terrible mid-season (but he rescued it at least).

Hopefully they get it all together in a single season, although I'll admit I'm a bigger Hamilton fan than I am a McLaren fan, should Hamilton be chasing down one of the MP4-28s next season I know who I'll be cheering for.
Does Adrian Newey still make McLarens fast and fragile?LOL

But yes, Kimi in 2005, Sebastian in 2010 and Lewis in 2012 showed the value of a reliable and competitive car, and the truth to Ron's words: to finish first, first you have to finish. Hell, reliability almost overcame two fast cars this year.
Just look at the 2003 McLaren, not the quickest and only took 2 wins, but Kimi oh so nearly took the championship!
Frequently what makes a car fast also makes it fragile.

I have heard once or twice that luck is evened out by this kind of logic. For example Hamilton may be unlucky to breakdown, but similarly Alonso may be at least as unlucky to have a slower car. However what did Hamilton's car have that made it fast (the fastest by a margin, in fact) but fragile in Abu Dahbi that Button's didn't?
Hamilton's first DNF was in Germany and was due to a puncture. I'm reading he ran over debris. Does anyone remember what caused this debris in the first place?
Mclaren built the fastest car but they just did not capitalise when they came back to Europe..then they were quick again after Hungary for a while but again not capitalising again

Red Bull peaked at the right moment and Newey found the performance advantage for Vettel

I think Hamilton does know being in the same team as Button would hinder his chances of becoming champion.

The pit stop issues with the nuts frequently being jammed cost them a lot of points

If you want to be cynical Mclaren should have won 2007 drivers title and also 2010 when Hamilton had the initiative and lost it
Losing the 2007 drivers title will forever go down as one of McLaren's greatest blunders, spygate or no spygate they had it wrapped up until the last 2 races
Ron and the team were hellbent on getting revenge on Alonso, FIA and Ferrari they really messed up when Hamilton was struggling on old tyres in China.

They dithered so long and forgot to mention to Hamilton to calm down and just bring it home
Well it's been well documented that both the Ferrari and Red Bull cars are built like bricks while the McLaren falls apart with a slight tap

Vettel's RB8 certainly took a massive hit in Brazil and survived.

Alonso's F10 took a big whack off Barrichello at Spa '10. Although he wasn't so lucky 2 years later, but none of the cars involved survived.

Hamilton's McLaren had to retire at Singapore after contact with Webber in '10, again he had to retire when Hulkenberg smashed into him in Brazil '12. He also retired after his collision with Button at the 2011 Canadian GP, however while Hamilton's car didn't make it (I think it was fundamentally ok actually but I'm not sure...) Button's did, however his wasn't pressed up against the pit wall.

Can anyone think of anymore?
All those collisions mentioned where when the car was hit at a week point, it wasn't the bodywork that took the damage unlike the Ferrari of Alonso's and Vettel's Red Bull.
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