Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monaco, 2011

McLaren say they’re quick enough to beat Red Bull

2011 Canadian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monaco, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monaco, 2011

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe is confident about the teams’ championship chances, saying “we’re in a very good position to win a lot of races”.

Speaking on a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-in, Lowe said McLaren have a faster car in races than Red Bull:

“We have been quicker than them in the last two races, in race trim. Our car is is out-performing them at that point in the weekend.

“Clearly in qualifying we’ve got quite a gap to make up. But what exactly it is, how is that advantage gained by Red Bull, we don’t know”.

Lowe said the team were “buoyed up” by their performance in the last two races, particularly in Barcelona:

“Historically, [the Circuit de Catalunya] has been very tough for us, and very strong for Red Bull, to have had the pace there in the race was very encouraging for us”.

He expects the team to be able to challenge for victory in this weekend’s race:

“Our car performs well in low-speed corners. We’ve seen good performance at Monaco, particularly in the race. Generally, cars that go well at Monaco also go well in Canada.

“Nevertheless we were also quick in Spain, in race trim, so I think the car is still performing well in all types of corner.

“We’re in a good position to take the race straight to Red Bull and win it if we can”.

McLaren are 61 points behind Red Bull in the constructors’ championship and Lewis Hamilton is 58 adrift of Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ title. However, Lowe believes they can get back on terms with their rivals:

“The championship, for us, is still there for the taking, despite Sebastian’s lead in the drivers’ and Red Bull’s lead in the constructors’.

“I think we’re in a very good position to win a lot of races to bring ourselves back into championship contention here. We’re feeling very bullish about our current position even though the points standings may look a little depressing”.

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Keith Collantine
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52 comments on “McLaren say they’re quick enough to beat Red Bull”

  1. Well they would say that. Be very exciting if it was true though huh?

    1. Well, look back to the last 2 races and its hard to argue. Lewis was on par, if not slightly quicker then Vettel over the race in Barca and Jensen was on the same level in Monaco and could have won that race.

      It all comes down to that qualy pace which the Red Bulls seem to have in spades, if Mclaren can find a way to get that, and not compromise race pace, they might be a lot closer, if not on par with the RBs then people realise.

      1. That, and looking at how Alonso worked (as he said two races ago he did) to fix his not so great starts of the first few races – if a McLaren can be the one that gets in front of Red Bull at the start, instead of someone being in between Vettel and them, they can win – and certainly they should be able to fight for the win, which is what I would most like to see.

      2. Red Bull had problems last year, so we could see finally another Ferrari-McLaren duel!

    2. They would, but also should!

      Bring it on McLaren, take the fight to Red Bull and possilby to Vettel.

      I would guess Red Bull (Renault engined cars) might suffer a bit more than the teams with Mercedes power from the off throttle EBD ban, so that is a promising perspective.

    3. Mr. Zing Zang
      8th June 2011, 18:43


      1. But I’ve been doing that since Mid 2007 season…and Jenson I’ve backed since start of 2009 so I guess I’m ahead of the game!

  2. I’d agree. In Australia, Malaysia, Spain and Monaco they had stints of being as fast or faster when on equal tyres, more so as the races have come by.

    The ban on engine-mapping the blown diffuser will come in for Silverstone and will probably hit Red Bull quite hard, especially in qualifying. We might be in for a repeat of 2006 here.

    1. Plus when you factor in Mclaren’s reputation for development and we might end up with quite a fight on our hands. I hope it does, at this rate Vettel will have the championship wrapped up sooner rather than later.

  3. Haha, funny….

    1. haha.. ferrari’s pace atm… haha

  4. shame for Mclaren that the two races they’ve beeen quicker at are the two hardest circuits to overtake on!

  5. If you go back and look at the stats, Webber’s Red Bull is the faster one for race pace, when not being held back by red road blocks. I don’t think there will be much difference, McLaren are the masters of development maybe, but Red Bull had a mighty start, and as its been pointed out, all of the major teams are utilising the overrun technique. Renault will suffer the most I would assume as are utilising the exhaust flow under the entire floor, but I think the effective penalties for Red Bull and Mclaren will be the same, if anything more for McLaren, as their most recent developments have been focussed on that area. Considering the dog of a car the McLaren looked during testing at the start of the year. However the removal of the overrun EBD may be a Godsend for Williams…pains me to see them fighting with the modern day Minardis.

    1. Webber’s Red Bull is the faster one for race pace, when not being held back by red road blocks.

      Until you factor in that he usually has to make one more pit stop than his team mate:
      2011 F1 statistics: Strategy

      1. Understood, I was relating ‘race pace’ to speed over one lap, and I guess that due to Webber’s usually fresher rubber at the end of the GP with lighter fuel load gives him a better chance of putting down faster laps. Is Webber still struggling as much with the Pirellis or, in the last couple of races has Webber needed those first early pitstops in the hope of getting into clear air rather than fresh rubber?

  6. “We have been quicker than them in the last two races, in race trim. Our car is is out-performing them at that point in the weekend.”

    Very true, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t get the results, which must be a big concern after the last two races.
    After Monaco I tipped them to win the next two races, if they don’t and Ferrari continue to under perform its going to be a walk in the park for RBR as we’ll then be back to stronger RBR tracks. If others don’t win after next two races surely only the removal of OTBD can possibly stop RBR march to the titles.

  7. A number of articles I’ve read recently have expressed a lack of understanding as to why Red Bull are seemingly so much closer to the speed of the other teams (McLaren in particular)in race trim. Am I missing something here?

    Surely the answer, at least in part, lies in the fact that during qualifying, the teams are able to employ their DRS systems at whatever point they want. With Red Bull’s downforce advantage, they are able to employ DRS at parts of the circuit that other teams simply are not able to employ DRS. This gives them a significant advantage in qualifying that is not there during the race.

    This doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.

    1. That is part of it and something I feared from the off.

      But the majority of their advantage comes from the fact that they can fill up the car for more than one lap, then burn the extra fuel off in the over-run to produce a massive boost in performance. They can’t do this in the race because the amount of fuel involved would be far too much – more than the car is designed to take!

    2. true but it is also because the red bull runs the EBD on maximum for qualifying which uses a lot of fuel. If they did this for the entire race, the car would need a considerably larger fuel tank and would be incredibly slow.

    3. Chris Goldsmith
      8th June 2011, 12:41

      Well, I’d always say that if something in F1 seem simple, you probably haven’t understood it properly!

      I’d say that you’re probably right though, the DRS will have a significant effect, and the more you can use it the bigger the advantage. It’s probably not just that though. KERS, for instance – we know that the Red Bull KERS is fragile. Are they only using its full potential for a couple of laps in qualifying? Probably. Same with the hot-blown diffuser – it’s likely that they’re able to use an extremely aggressive map for blowing the diffuser for the couple of qualifying laps they run, then they have to turn it off for the race to save the car and the engine.

      It could also be a fuel issue – running on vapour the car may be the class of the field, but with a full take the handling isn’t as sharp, or affects the tyres differently. They may also be quite heavy on fuel, meaning they either have to turn the engine down, or have a heavy car to run the race distance (or both!)

      It’s likely to be a combination of all these factors. But whatever it is, there is at least some hope of them being beaten over the course of the season. Before that’s going to happen though, McLaren have got to stop coming away from a race talking excitedly about how they could have won, and instead talk about how they did win.

      1. That last sentence is the biggest point for me too. It is good that they could potentially do it, Sure, compared to last year, and all the other teams (even, again, so far, Ferrari) this year, being able to even compete on par in the race is a big step.

        But I, and the WDC & WCC would like to have actions speak rather than words. They need to start lining up everything to make it actually work.

        I think McLaren, and possibly most teams, probably have a good idea of the factors involved in the quali advantage of Red Bull, but in F1 it is not very often something you tag onto your car, and presto, instant winner. The F-duct last year was sort of like that, but even then, it wasn’t so simple to make it work well.

      2. Ya, doesn’t the Renault engine burn 15% more fuel than other engines? that would have a seriously exagerated impact with a full tank..
        Couple that with their flexi-winged downforce which causes them to go slower in the speed traps but have a higher average speed because they can deploy the DRS far more readily..
        I’d rule out the fact that they can use KERS over one lap and not the race because Vettel managed to blow everyone awayin Melbourne with no KERS..

        QED :)

        1. Assuming McLaren really are faster in the race then they have to solve the qualy gap asap. Has to be a combination of:

          1 – super aggressive over throttling from RBR EBD, they can only use this in qualy and for limited stints in the race given the likely added fuel consumption;
          2 – more overall downforce on the RB7 (cf Hamilton falling back in final corner in Spain) but it looks closer than last year;
          3 – small flap DRS on the RB7 which (VMM have a large flap so lose more rear wing downforce when it is deployed) allows RBR to deploy the DRS mid corner

          If that’s right then VMM will surely have to introduce a new rear wing with the small flap at some stage, especially at Hungary.

    4. I think the RBR main advantage is that it generates the most downforce , which among other advantages , has the effect of getting their tyres warm quicker , and a warm tyre verse a not so warm one , makes a massive difference in F1 talk.

    5. The newey designed mclarens of the late nineties were mostly faster than ferrari in qualifying, sometimes considerably but ferrari often matched them in the race {or at least schumacher did]. I remember rory byrne the ferrari designer saying you can optimise the design of a car for qualifying or the race

  8. I would say that McLaren have had the best ‘race’ car for quite a while now. Only the teams/drivers ability to shoot itself/themselves in the foot on a few occasions, together with some bad luck, as masked its true ability.

    Sure the Red Bull is quicker in qualifying, but it doesn’t carry that pace over into races where being on pole is no longer that important.

    1. I agree with you but i will balme the team and not the drivers. especially not lewis bc from pitstop to qualifying, McL has messed him up quite seriously.

  9. This is good news, I like it when there’s close competition. I still hope Vettel can bring home the title, but it would be very nice if he can show all his critics with (more) good overtaking moves.

    1. You spelled ‘some’ wrong, you wrote ‘more’ replace the ‘r’ with ‘s’ and rearrange the letters ;-)

      1. Oh come on! He didn’t hit anyone in Spain did he? :-~

  10. Quick enough is not enough. You should faster than them.

  11. Doesn’t say much for the team, if they’ve not won either of them.

  12. Im getting quite perplexed at all these ‘Jenson wouldve won in monaco’ assumptions.

    In fact the jenson blew his own chances of winning cos he totally bottled out from snatching the win from the rivals – instead jenson left it for the win to be handed to him curtousy of alonso and vettel taking themselves out. jenson even had much quicker tyres, best strategy, decent pitstops (pitting before the safetycar was a lottery-win for him) and still backed off from the wheel to wheel fight – thats not really how a champion should be imo. vettel, alonso, Hamilton & schumacher have all got that extra hunger…whereas button is always backing off.

    Redbull made plenty of mistakes in that race which they never really do – That was the time to capitalise from them. Blaming the safetycar or redflag for loosing jenson the race is quite a cop-out as thats racing – if jenson pushed more before he wouldve had it sewn up.

    I have no doubt that jenson wouldntve been able overtake fernando let alone sebastian as well.
    I also found it extraordinary that button was voted driver of the race when he finished a place behind where he started…had the best race (strategies & pits) had the amazing luck of redbull cocking up their stops – and still finished a place behind where he started.

    vettel (for extracting the most laps from the softs) or alonso (for finishing a place up from where he started and keeping up with redbull) shouldve been driver of the day. The driver of the race vote was manipulated by the beeb as you can clearly see from the commentators chatter – in one minute brundle said he was dissapointed with jenson as jenson shouldve done more to win – then the next minute he seems quite reluctant to vote for jenson and then just decided to swallow it as the other guys were slowly agreeing for jenson.

    Lets look at the facts:
    jenson started in 2nd and then finished in 3rd (loosing one place) when he had the best strategies which enabled him to have a big advantage over sebastian and fernando – safetycars and redflags are all apart of racing.

    This monaco race by the british media has really been manipulated to make out as if button just missed out for being unlucky……Hmmmm…I thought brundle, DC, EJ and JH all said that “You make your own luck” especially when they kept refering to Lewis!?

    1. This is part of the constant flagellation of Jenson by the British public; always trying to elevate him above where he really belongs.

      Yes, he is a good driver, but a racing attitude such as waiting for your rivals to take themselves out – in a race where anything can happen just shows why he will never be be amongst the best. As it turned out, his strategy of waiting for wins to be handed to him did not work for him this time in Monaco. History has shown it is a lottery. He even conceded he had no hope of passing them on the track!
      He could not even utilse a better strategy and newer tires to finish higher than he started. Rather, he ended up one position behind where he started,and was still voted driver on the race! For doing what exactly??
      Contrast this with his team mate, who started 9th, but managed to finish 6th, after a drive through + 20 sec penalty, a bad pit stop, and worse rubber! Go figure.

      Lewis, Alonso, Vettel or Schumacher would never have an attitude like this – simply because it is not in their DNA. They take what they want, and don’t wait for it to be handed to them. – because they have an unshakable self belief that they are better than all the others. This is what defines true champions. They want to win, and win at all costs.

      Say what you may about them, history would eventually show they will all achieve more than Jenson ever could.
      I have nothing against Jenson personally, but the constant exaggeration of his skills is becoming tiring.

    2. jenson even had much quicker tyres, best strategy, decent pitstops (pitting before the safetycar was a lottery-win for him) and still backed off from the wheel to wheel fight – thats not really how a champion should be imo.

      Couldn’t agree anymore. I was shocked when he was voted driver of the weekend. Again, Jenson’s only chance to compete with drivers like Alonso and Vettel was to adopt a different strategy. He couldn’t execute the strategy even though he had a tyre advantage for most of the race, and I’m convinced that there was no way he would be able to get by Alonso or Vettel in the last few laps. I feel his fluke wins at China and Australia last year created a false sense of hype around him. Other than 6 good races in a dominant Brawn GP car, he hasn’t done anything noteworthy in his entire career. IMO, I’ve never considered him a top notch driver, and I will always consider him a glorified number 2 driver at Mclaren.

  13. Mclaren have had the better race pace for about 3 races now but because they can’t plant their car on the front row of the grid on a sunday they seem too lose too much time battling with other (usually slower) cars than them and losing too much time. Whoever said Qualifying isn’t as important this year is talking rubbish.

  14. The car might be quick enough but for them to win Lewis needs to be a touch less aggressive and Jenson a touch more.

  15. Up to a 70% chance of rain on Sunday now. Let’s see how McLaren like that!

    1. Hooray!

  16. McLaren need to shut up and do their talking on the track
    They have cocked up more times – strategy wise, than any of the other top teams this season. If anything can be cocked up, rest assured Macca will find a way to do it. China is the only thing they can be proud of this season so far.

    Paddy must be on fumes or something… because he seems to have forgotten the only reason they were close in Spain was because of the DRS advantage and lack of KERS on the Red Bull, and as for Monaco, i cant see how the McLarens outperformed the Red Bull in race trim.

  17. Hewis Lamilton
    8th June 2011, 15:29

    It sounds like McLaren have the fastest car. Now maybe they need to get a driver that can get the most out of the fastest car?

    1. I think they have in Hamilton. He was still 6th in Monaco despite all the drama surrounding him.

      1. Hewis Lamilton
        8th June 2011, 21:29

        Apologies, I was being sarcastic. Clearly Hamilton can win races. I can’t help but wonder if the statement that “McLaren are quick enough to beat Red Bull” was somewhat aimed at Hamilton and Button.

        1. McLaren, recently, do seem to employ the tactic of subtly criticizing their drivers through the media, with Ron outwardly blasting them in 2010 and an engineer intimating that they had the fastest car at the end of last year.
          Don’t really fancy this tactic as it almost seems like Lowe is absolving the engineering department of any blame while subtly pointing it in the direction of the drivers.

          1. Fair Call, button looked like he had massive pace at Monaco but if he even got within a second of the car in front he would just stop there & sit a second behind not pushing or trying to make an overtake etc at all. The difference between his & hamiltons race style was like night & day, but what they really need is to get both drivers to a happy point in the middle, where Hamilton is slightly less agressive but just as fast & button can up his agressiveness & not expect to play the pit strategy game to overtake someone like he has his entire f1 career.

            What I am trying to say is Button had the car for 1st at Monaco but after he caught everyone very quickly it seemed like he switched into “Yeah baby im on for a podium at Monaco whilst Lewis is behind me” & just turned into a journeyman for the rest of the race, poor form.

  18. what a joke at barca hamilton had drs and vettel’s kers was’nt working properly and hamilton still couldnt pass him. at monaco vettel made one set of tyres last 60 laps no other car can do that. so dream on mac

    1. It is a little ambitious!

  19. I think McLaren will be competitive this weekend, given the nature of the track. Perhaps their most competitive since China.

    However, I still feel that RBR will be all over them where a track is more about downforce than straight line speed.

    McLaren have been faster than RBR all season and probably all of last season, that’s nothing new. But it doesn’t matter so much on the straights usually.

    Barcelona really demonstrated the struggle McLaren have. Hamilton could catch Vettel on the straights, or at least reduce the gap but he was just being forgotten in the corners. Unfortunately for McLaren most circuits happen to have corners.

  20. As far as RBR’s Q3 advantage and how VMM will get it, it’s not DRS. They had this edge last year too. In fact, last year we were talking about a secret suspension device to lower the car. Then it was EBD–until everyone else got it. As the cars are in parc ferme, one must assume the benefit comes when they plug in the USB cable Sunday morning and change up the mapping. However, the extreme-EBD mapping theory has an obvious flaw: Renault factory team doesn’t seem to have this big race pace versus Q3 difference. In fact Renault factory has gone a completely different way in implementing EBD.

    Whatever Newey has for Q3, I don’t see Lowe cracking the safe. My view is that the RBR EBD design actually won’t work to capacity over a race distance, not because of the mapping, but because it is designed to be absolutely marginal on heat dissipation, and the aero concept is optimized for that condition. Remember, Newey first learned about EBD by barbequing a bunch of McLarens. It’s also why the KERS won’t work. There is just not enough airflow from the pods out that single hole in the back to cool the headers, get air to key parts of the floor, as well as all the other hot bits. Look at the McLaren, by contrast it’s like swiss cheese.

    1. How about drop all the complex theories & go for this one………… The RB car has so much downforce & is so glued to the track that it can effectively open its DRS system earlier than any other team in a corner etc WITHOUT losing enough grip to affect the downforce massively but obviously with the drag reduction benefits. ALso having more downforce enables the red bull to extract more grip from its fresher tyres for a lap or 2 before the ‘freshness’ of the new set wears off.

      We have seen this very obviously many times this year during the quali runs, the commentators have even made remarks about just how early Vettel often opens the DRS when on a qualifying lap.

      As DRS can be used at will in Qualifying trim, the Red Bull car thus has a much greater performance advatage during quali than it does during the race when DRS can only be used when near/behind another vehicle & in only one spot on the track.

      Thats gotta be worth some of their quali advantage anyway, so thats my theory. :-)

  21. From where I am standing I can see that Lewis to be the only person who can do it for them, only if he can keep his things cool under the circumstance. They are progressing well in the race it’s there quali pace that is letting them down.

  22. Can’t they at least beat them before they start crowing like they used to last year??….. So which is it this week Mclaren???? “Our car is slower than the red bull but we are so good we almost kept up” or…… “We can beat them at the next race we are going to” (where no one has actually seen anything to confirm this hot air as usual)..

    Mclaren need to follow the ‘Nike’ example & shutup & “JUST DO IT”

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