Hard work paying off with McLaren’s latest aero package
With a raft of modifications to the MP4-24 challenger which helped defending world champion Lewis Hamilton to fifth on the grid for the German Grand Prix, it was fairly understandable that the McLaren Mercedes star
was fired up on the grid for yesterday’s race.
The lights went out and armed with the Kinetic Energy Recovery System enjoyed by just three of his rivals; Hamilton made a superb getaway off the line, junked to the left and went down the outside to turn one challenging for the race lead.
Unfortunately for Hamilton and the team, he made the slightest of contact with pole-sitter and eventual race winner Mark Webber under braking for the first turn and this sliced his right rear tyre. Hamilton’s race for points was over and he soldiered on to finish a disappointed 18th.
"It definitely wasn't the result we were hoping for before the race," Hamilton admitted today in his post race column for his personal website. "We'd had such an encouraging practice and qualifying and I thought I could get a good result for myself and the team, but it just wasn't to be.
"It was just unfortunate and disappointing that I got a puncture at the first corner and as we now know that it subsequently damaged the upper floor and brake duct. That was my race basically over."
While race day did not go according to plan, Hamilton is encouraged by the gains made in Germany with the new front wing, floor and diffuser. The development parts had been scheduled for the Hungarian Grand Prix in two weeks time, but the Woking-based team flew in the new components for Hamilton to try ahead of the original schedule.
"We have to look on the positive side," Hamilton continued.
"If we'd turned up at the Nurburgring and discovered that the upgrades we'd brought were a disappointment then it would have been a huge blow to everyone, but as far as we know, the upgrades made a huge difference to our performance and I'm hopeful we can carry that performance and more through to Hungary."
The problem that McLaren has suffered from all season with is a general lack of downforce compared to its rivals. This was especially apparent at the British Grand Prix where the front runners were able to take the first turn virtually flat out while Hamilton and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen were forced to shift down a gear and brake to take the 90 degree Copse right hander. With the latest aero updates, Hamilton feels that the team has made significant gains in this crucial area.
"For the first time this year I actually felt that I had a race car under me that I could control instead of it controlling me," he admitted. "I believe everyone was encouraged, relieved, happy and positive that all the effort and hard work back at the factory was starting to deliver performance gains on the track."
With nine points on the board after nine races, Hamilton knows that this year is now effectively an extended test session and progress is the key as the team prepare the MP4-25 challenger for next season.