Saturday, March 16, 2013

Engine Blood Team Profile: McLaren-Mercedes


HISTORY: One of the most successful teams in Formula One history, McLaren have been there and done it all.  From the Marlboro-emblazoned seventies and eighties, when greats like Emerson Fittipaldi, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna swept all before them, to the more recent, Mercedes-partnered "Silver Arrow"-era, with Hakkinen and Hamilton taking title victories, they have almost always been in the mix.  Just don't mention Nigel Mansell or Peugeot engines.

5. Jenson BUTTON (GB)
6. Sergio PEREZ (MEX)

Jenson Button, World Champion.  It still sounds odd, but it's a fact; the formerly underwhelming playboy came back stronger from his wilderness years at Honda and took his opportunity with pleasing grace and maturity.  Since then he's proved it's not a fluke by taking a string of excellent victories and being a great ambassador for the sport, particularly with his efforts after the Japanese tsunami.

Perez is an altogether more troubling package.  Plucked from relative obscurity after some admittedly excellent performances last year, we are still to see the total package; speed he has, but patience is not one of his strong points and he was left looking frankly mediocre towards the end of last season.  Still, who better to teach him the finer points than Button, who has taken that journey himself?

2012 PERFORMANCE: 3rd place, 378 points.

L'il LEWIS (GB): 4th, 190 points.  Best finish: 1st, Canada, Hungary, Italy and USA.
Jenson BUTTON (GB): 5th, 188 points.  Best finish: 1st, Australia, Belgium and Brazil.

Seven wins between the two drivers, but uncharactaristic reliability problems put paid to a sustained championship challenge from either driver.  Button had a horrendous start to the season, aside from winning the first race, but turned it around later on.  Consistency was, as always, his middle name, and he made a decent fist of it in the end.

Hamilton won more races, but, well, he's Lewis Hamilton, so he made a load of almighty cock-ups as well, eventually finishing nearly 100 points behind the world title fight.  He pitched an almighty fit mid-season and will be plying his trade elsewhere next season, thus robbing McLaren of a talent they had invested the best part of twenty years in.

2013 PROSPECTS: The car has looked a bit dodgy, and Mercedes' support is in question as McLaren court Honda for the future, so this could be a 'transistional' (read: bad) year.

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