Hamilton and McLaren all out Canada attack
9 June, 2010
Jun.09 (Daniel Chalmers) In Canada, Red Bull’s domination of qualifying will be under immense threat from McLaren whose car should thrive in Montreal.
McLaren may have inherited the win in Istanbul but it was their strong race pace, which put Red Bull under immense pressure leading to the crash.
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh speaking during a Vodafone phone-in says: “Undoubtedly Red Bull still had an advantage on us in qualifying [in Istanbul].”
He continued: “But I think it was clear that we had a faster race pace and that was very encouraging.”
However in Montreal it’s unlikely that they will need to rely on their opponent’s misfortune to win the race.
We have spent the season before each race asking who has any chance of preventing a Red Bull victory. This weekend it’s a case of can anybody stop McLaren from dominating the event?
Montreal with its long straights and slow corners will suit McLaren’s strengths.
In Istanbul McLaren’s F-duct device was said to be worth around 0.4 seconds per lap. At Montreal the cars will spend more time pounding down straights. Therefore the device could be worth even more to McLaren this weekend.
The problem for their rivals is that as McLaren pioneered the device their car has been built around it in order to unleash its full potential.
Every other team has to try and adapt the F-duct to their cars, which weren’t designed with the device in mind whatsoever. The task is made more difficult bearing in mind that the chassis design is homologated for the season.
So, although we have seen Ferrari utilise the device, it’s simply nowhere near the advantage Mclaren’s version delivers. Therefore all McLaren’s rivals will be at big disadvantage at a track where the F-duct will come into its own, more so than at any other circuit so far this season.
It’s not just the F-duct that their rivals will bemoan, but also the Mercedes engine. Montreal is very much an engine circuit so having more horsepower is a big advantage. Just like last season,the Mercedes engine is the quickest.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says: “We probably are 20-30bhp down on the class of the field.”
Every 10bph is worth around 0.150 second per lap. So in total Red Bull are losing between 0.3 and 0.45 seconds per lap to the Mercedes powered cars. The difference in power between the two engines will be found out particularly down the long back straight.
Christian Horner explains: “The problem is, as it always has been, that under the current regulations, the way that the freeze currently is, you freeze in advantages and disadvantages.”
Another concern for Red Bull this weekend is that there are no high speed corners in Montreal. This is a track which just features the team’s current weaknesses.
Whitmarsh explains: “The Red Bull is still very strong in long high-speed corners. Fortunately the next two grand prix don’t feature a lot of those, so we hope that we’ll be strong there.
It’s not just the F-duct and Mercedes engine that will make McLaren quick this weekend. Since Spain, Mclaren has genuinely been closing the gap to Red Bull. This is mainly down to McLaren’s impressive high rate of development.
This strength was on show last season when the team turned a dog into a winner. Mclaren always seem to have something new to put onto their car for every race, and Montreal won’t be any different.
Whitmarsh says: “We’ve got a reasonable aerodynamic package which we hope will take us a few steps further forward.”
Ferrari on the other hand have been slow in the development department, which has been irritating Fernando Alonso recently.
It was McLaren’s rate of development back in 2005 that impressed Alonso, when his Renault team was battling them in the championship.
In Turkey Button said: “Three weeks ago you wouldn’t say we would have been able to challenge the Red Bulls so I’m very happy with what they’ve brought here.”
He added: “They’ve pushed very, very hard and obviously it’s working so that’s put a big smile on my face.”
A man just as happy is Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton didn’t have an easy start to the year. Firstly he got into hot water with the police in Australia. He saw his new team mate win two races, and saw a strong second place in Spain slip away late on when he suffered a puncture.
In Turkey, Hamilton got his first victory of the season, and he will be relishing F1’s return to Canada this weekend. Canada was the scene of his first victory in his rookie year in 2007. He beat Fernando Alonso to pole position and survived four safety car periods to take the chequered flag.
In 2008 Hamilton set a stunning pole lap to beat second placed Robert Kubica by 0.612 seconds. He was dominating the race until his famous incident in the pit lane.
Hamilton’s aggressive and brave style suits the demands of this track. He is one of the best drivers when it comes to going as close to the walls (sometimes brushing them) as is physically possible.
If he can win this weekend following his victory in Turkey, he will be right up there in the championship table.
Mark Webber has recently demonstrated how big a difference a couple of wins can make to a driver’s position in the championship table, especially with the new points system.
Maybe the best hope for McLaren’s rivals this weekend is that Canada delivers the incidents and unpredictability it has become renowned for over the years. We have seen a number of high profile drivers hit the wickedly named “wall of champions”. Also Montreal regularly sees the appearance of the safety car, which can mess things up for the leaders.
McLaren and Hamilton will be hoping for a boring Canada GP weekend so that they can romp to victory, and give Red Bull more pain in the championship battle.
After looking like Red Bull were about to take 2010 by the scruff of neck, it’s suddenly looking like an epic season in Whitmarsh’s opinion.
“A few races ago people were predicting a Red Bull runaway, and I think people now suspect that the whole thing is going to be a lot closer than that.”
In conclusion, McLaren and Hamilton will be a deadly combination in Montreal this weekend. For Red Bull and the team’s other rivals it could well be just a case of damage limitation unless Canada throws up its regular sting in the tail.