Lewis Hamilton has put a difficult 2011 season behind him and is back on track, his McLaren team say.


Hamilton's three wins last year were interspersed with a series of errors and penalties as he admitted personal problems affected him.

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale said: "I'm speaking to him most weeks. He's getting himself together.

"He's winter training really hard and he's in the right place doing the things he needs to be doing."

Hamilton is believed to be in the United States training in the Rocky Mountains, but will be back in the UK at the end of the month in time for the launch of the new McLaren on 1 February.

Hamilton said at the end of 2011 that he would spend the winter analysing the difficulties he had had last season and ensuring he was mentally back to full strength for the new season.

Neale said: "What he needs to do is get himself in the car. He's only got something to prove to himself. He's his own biggest critic.

"He puts extremely high demands on himself, we at the team are here to support him. It's a tough business, you've got to get the job done."

Red Bull have been good for the last two years, but Ferrari have obviously got a lot to prove this year.

Jonathan NealeMcLaren managing director

One of the motivating factors behind Hamilton's difficult 2011 was his disappointment that McLaren had not produced a car that could challenge Red Bull on a consistent basis.

Neale acknowledged that McLaren needed to up their game in 2012 - not just in terms of performance, but on an operational level as well after strong finishes in several races slipped through their fingers because of errors.

"One of the things we measure is our did-not-score rate," he said. "If we had a good car that was capable of scoring good points in that race and we didn't, we go back and ask ourselves why.

"There have been a number of operational issues we've needed to get fixed and some of the changes we're making in our line-up and some of the processes - and bringing people like (former Williams technical director) Sam Michael on board (as sporting director) - are aimed at tackling some of those issues."

Neale said he expected world champions Red Bull to remain strong in 2012, and that he was wary of a revival from Ferrari, who struggled last year partly because they were unable to maximise the year's must-have technology, exhaust-blown diffusers.

This is when the teams channel the exhausts along the rear floor of the car and blow gases through them even when the driver is off the throttle. The technology significantly increases downforce, but has been banned for 2012.

Ferrari's only win in 2011 was at the British Grand Prix, where the technology was severely restricted for one race.

"Red Bull have been good for the last two years," Neale said.

"They sorted out their reliability last year and it's just speculation at this moment (who will have the quickest car).

"Who knows who will come out with what?

"Ferrari have obviously got a lot to prove this year.

"From the glimpse we got of how their car was at Silverstone without the blown diffuser they were quick, so they have some capability there.

"But the whole car hangs together well for Red Bull and, with an evolutionary set of rules, they would be disappointed if they weren't among the front runners."

(details from the bbc)

Victory is good for the soul13nov2011


Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Martin Whitmarsh on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

 Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Martin Whitmarsh on Friday practice at the Abu Dhabi GP

Yas Marina Circuit, Sunday November 13



Started:            2nd

Finished:          1st

Fastest lap:      1m43.461s (+0.849s, 3rd)

Pitstops:          Two: laps 16 and 40 (Op-Op-Pr)

2011 points:     227 (5th)

“This result is just fantastic. I’m usually my own biggest critic – I’m always hard on myself when I make mistakes – but I really felt like I maximised everything today. To be able to sustain that kind of pace, under constant pressure, and not make mistakes, is really satisfying.

“For most of the race I was concentrating on managing the gap to Fernando [Alonso]. He’s such a strong driver. He’ll never give you an inch, in fact. Into the closing laps I found myself beginning to think about victory, but I didn’t want to do that really so I kept saying to myself: ‘Don’t even go there!’

“It worked: I stopped my mind from wandering and I didn’t allow myself to think about the win until I’d crossed the line.

“To have Jenson on the podium alongside me was great – great for me, great for him, great for the team, and a great boost as we move towards the end of the season. The team has been fantastic all weekend – the strategy, the pitstops, everything – really top-class. The whole package came together today and I owe everyone a big thank-you.

“This is so uplifting – for the team and for me. To be able to walk away with a smile feels just fantastic: victory is good for the soul.” 



Started:            3rd

Finished:          3rd

Fastest lap:      1m43.154s (+0.542s, 2nd)

Pitstops:          Two: laps 16 and 36 (Op-Op-Pr)

2011 points:     255 (2nd)

“It was a difficult race for me, as I had a KERS Hybrid issue, which is admittedly very rare for us. After about 15 laps it stopped working – and that doesn’t just affect your power out of the corners, it affects engine braking too.

“Fortunately, my engineer came over the radio and told me they’d found a way to make it work again – but it meant pushing lots of buttons on the steering wheel every couple of laps because it only returned intermittently. So I’d arrive at a corner and not know whether I had any engine braking because I had no warning. So selecting the right spot at which to brake was tough.

“Still, as I say, it’s extremely rare for us to encounter a problem with our KERS Hybrid. Mercedes-Benz has done a great job this year, and in fact I’d say theirs is the best and most reliable unit in the pitlane: a fantastic system, in fact. So as I say it was a rare issue – and, although the problem made for a tricky drive for me, it also made it even more satisfying to manage to keep it together and end up on the podium. 

“Last of all, I want to say: ‘Fair play to Lewis.’ He did a great job today. It’s very positive to move towards the end of the season on a high, because it’s the best possible way to build for the new season.”


Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Lewis drove an utterly faultless race today, taking the lead at the second corner and controlling the gap back to Fernando with consummate skill over the remaining 54 laps. To put it simply, he was brilliant today.

“Jenson, too, drove a truly excellent race, managing KERS Hybrid problems throughout, and emerging with a hard-won third place and 15 valuable world championship points to consolidate his second position in the drivers’ world championship.

“While I’m on the subject of KERS Hybrid, it’s worth paying tribute to the excellence of our Mercedes-Benz system. It’s been fantastically reliable all season, and has delivered considerable performance benefits too; today’s hiccup was therefore extremely rare. So I want to say a big “Bravo!” to all the guys at Brixworth [Northamptonshire, UK], where Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines is based, for a job very well done all year.

“Returning to the subject of today’s race, it’s always a great feeling to see two Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers on the podium together, and today I’m particularly delighted for Lewis, but also for Jenson, and of course for the entire team too.

“It was Lewis’s 17th career grand prix victory, all of them scored for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, his third of the season, and the sixth time this year we’ve had occasion to pull on our famous Vodafone rocket-red victory T-shirts.

“But 2011 isn’t done and dusted yet – from here we’ll travel to Brazil, and the famous Interlagos circuit, over whose majestic twists and turns Lewis and Jenson will be trying their damnedest to score Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ seventh victory of the year.

“Bring it on!”



Yas Marina Circuit, Friday November 11



P1 programme     27 laps     1m40.403s (+0.140s)     3rd

P2 programme     31 laps     1m39.586s     1st

“It was a really positive day for me. The car feels good – our long-run pace doesn’t feel too bad and we seem to be quite competitive. The car feels a lot better than it did at the last race – so I really hope I’ll be able to keep that going throughout the remainder of the grand prix weekend.

“The track just got better and better today, so I slowly chipped away at the set-up. The tyres are behaving well – at the last race I had degradation and didn’t have the pace, so it feels much better this weekend. That’s a real positive for me.

“When you come through a Friday without any problems, it definitely makes you feel confident for the rest of the weekend.”



P1 programme     21 laps     1m40.263s     1st

P2 programme     30 laps     1m39.785s (+0.199s)     2nd

“I’m still not entirely happy with the balance – although I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of it. Nonetheless, the pace of the car is good – Lewis was very quick today – and our long-run pace is very good.

“I was playing around with overtaking on my long run, but I still reckon it’ll be difficult to overtake people in the DRS zones. So I think it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to make moves stick in the race – which means it’s going to be important to qualify up at the front.

“It’s tricky around here, but we made some good progress here this afternoon and evening.”


Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“To finish first in both sessions is an incredibly promising start to our weekend here in Abu Dhabi. Obviously, it’s too early to accurately predict the pace of the teams around us, but it’s encouraging to have been able to power through today’s programme without setback and to have set the benchmark time in both P1 and P2.

“Lewis has been particularly complimentary about the car we’ve brought to this race, and Jenson is positive too, despite feeling there’s still potential for improvement. Our aim now is to build on this promising start, further develop the cars’ set-up with the engineers overnight, and push to maintain this position in qualifying tomorrow.”


Paddy Lowe: 2012 exhaust changes hold no fear for McLaren

26 Oct 2011

McLaren MP4/26 diffuser detail with aero paint.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 26 August 2011

26 Oct 2011

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe is unconcerned about next season’s ban on exhaust-blown diffusers and the possibility that some teams may find ways to continue to exploit exhaust gases in 2012.

While peers at other teams have expressed concerns about possible loopholes in the revised regulations, Lowe is unfazed and is instead relishing the challenge of doing all he can - within the new limitations - to make next year’s McLaren MP4-27 as quick as possible.

“I’m not in fear over it,” he explained during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-in on Wednesday. “I don’t quite understand when technical directors say they fear stuff like that. What is their fear of? The clue’s in the name - Formula One. It’s a formula - a set of constraints - that we define in the regulations. And once they’re set we’ll go and work as hard as we can to do as much as we can to make the car quick within those limitations.”

Exhaust-blown diffusers, where exhaust gases are channeled towards the car’s rear diffuser to boost downforce, have garnered a lot of attention this season, particularly the use of engine maps that allow the exhaust blowing to continue even when the driver is off the throttle.

Disagreements between the teams on the matter reached a head at July’s British Grand Prix where - after much wrangling - it was eventually decided to drop proposed mid-season revisions to the regulations in favour of a more substantial rule change in 2012. As a result, there will be strict constraints on exhaust positioning next year, which will result in the pipes exiting the bodywork much higher up and no longer in the vicinity of the diffuser. 

Although this change to ‘periscope’-style exhausts is expected to minimize the aerodynamic benefit of gas flow over bodywork, Lowe believes anyone who thinks designers will now ignore the downforce-boosting potential of exhausts is naive.

“So we had a bit of a crisis in Silverstone this year with the exhaust blowing situation and reached some agreement in terms of intent next year,” he explained. “The teams have since worked on a range of limits to reduce the amount at which exhausts can be used to create downforce, but it’s never been expected that it would eliminate the effect of exhausts on downforce. 

“That would be unrealistic. No regulation we’ve ever written has eliminated an in-car effect. There will be a finite effect. The simple point is that pointing an exhaust out the back will give you a large degree of thrust. That is an aerodynamic fact, but we all know that we can get a lot more than that. And the teams went into that with eyes wide open. 

“So I do find it a bit odd when people claim that they fear that people will generate performance from exhausts. Well of course they will. That’s what we have to do. It’s just that some very extreme limits have been put in place to reduce that drastically from where it was.”

News also broke recently that the FIA is to impose even more limitations on the aerodynamic exploitation of exhaust gases in 2012, by further limiting off-throttle blowing through stricter engine mapping rules. Again Lowe was unfazed by the late change. 

“We did have a recent clarification from the FIA about how the engine should be run. That did come out of the blue - it wasn’t pre-declared by the FIA. But again that represents a set of limits that we will work to.”


Final practice - Button makes it three from three08 Oct 2011

As Jenson Button continued to dominate practice at Suzuka on Saturday morning, taking his McLaren round a half second faster than team mate Lewis Hamilton, the question was whether Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull were sandbagging as the world champion was eight-tenths away from the pace on a circuit that has hitherto suited them.

The session was stopped early on after Bruno Senna had spun his Renault on the exit to the Spoon Curve and crashed hard enough into the tyre wall on the inside to remove the left front wheel. Only the Brazilian’s pride was hurt.

Once things resumed, Button took charge, was overtaken by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, and then stamped his authority once and for all with a lap of 1m 31.255s.

For a while Michael Schumacher jumped to second for Mercedes, before Hamilton staged a late improvement to 1m 31.762s, 0.507s off Button. The silver cars from Woking were the only ones below 1m 32s.

Vettel improved late to 1m 32.122s for third, and the question remains what their respective fuel loads were. We will find out soon enough in qualifying.

Fernando Alonso also improved late, to 1m 32.279s for fourth for Ferrari, ahead of Mark Webber on 1m 32.401s and Felipe Massa on 1m 32.429s. Schumacher dropped back to seventh on 1m 32.725s, with Rosberg eighth on 1m 32.878s.

Vitaly Petrov continued to show well for Renault with 1m 33.058s for ninth, with Adrian Sutil completing the top 10 with 1m 33.424s for Force India. In the German’s wake came the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, with 1m 33.469s and 1m 33.545s respectively, then the Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez, on 1m 33.818s and 1m 33.836s. Paul di Resta rounded out the runners below 1m 34s with 1m 33.990s in the second Force India.

Pastor Maldonado had the faster Williams with 1m 34.321s for 16th, with Senna left 17th on 1m 35.389s prior to his shunt. Rubens Barrichello was 18th on 1m 35.651s, then Jarno Trulli headed Lotus team mate Heikki Kovalainen in their usual 19th and 20th places, with 1m 36.327s and 1m 36.912s apiece.

The Virgins got back ahead of HRT after Daniel Ricciardo had had a spell in 21st, Jerome d’Ambrosio lapping in 1m 37.938s to Timo Glock’s 1m 38.011s. Ricciardo remained close, however, with 1m 38.355s. Tonio Liuzzi’s weekend of disaster continued, however, as his HRT stopped after Spoon with hydraulic problems after he had lapped in 1m 41.097s shortly after Senna’s incident.

Button signs new, multi-year deal with McLaren         5th Oct 2011
Uncertainty surrounding Jenson Button’s Formula One future was removed on Wednesday morning when McLaren announced that the British driver has re-signed with the team for 2012 and beyond on a new, multi-year contract.

Button joined McLaren as reigning world champion at the start of 2010, winning two Grands Prix that season. This year he has taken a further two victories, leads team mate Lewis Hamilton by 17 points in the driver standings, and is Sebastian Vettel’s sole remaining rival for the 2011 title.

"I’ve never felt more at home at a team than I do at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,” said Button. ‪"I’ve won four of the greatest races of my life here, I’m currently lying second in the drivers’ world championship, and I feel that I’m driving better than ever. You can only achieve that with the right level of support - and I truly believe that the passion and determination to win are stronger here at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes than anywhere else.

"As a Grand Prix driver, those are incredibly powerful feelings to share and be part of, and they’ve only reinforced my desire to commit my long-term future to this team. I’ve made no secret of my ambition to continue winning races and world championships, and I fully believe this is the place where I can achieve those aims. We at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes know how to win, and we’re busy refining an organisation that will enable us to keep on doing that for years to come."

On the news that Button will remain his team mate next season, Hamilton said: "It’s great that Jenson has chosen to stay with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Jenson has been a great person to work with, and a genuine team-player, from the moment we welcomed him on board. Jenson and I are as hungry and as ambitious as ever to win races and world championships in the future." 

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: “Jenson is a great driver and a great guy. In fact, I can safely say that he’s one of the most capable and respected drivers we’ve ever had, and I’m therefore absolutely delighted that he’ll continue to work with us into the future. He’s a considerable credit to this organisation, and I’m proud to be his team principal. I feel sure that he’ll now build on the considerable success he’s already achieved with us, and will be even more successful with us in years to come.

Sam Michael to join McLaren as sporting director13 Sep 2011


Sam Michael will join McLaren as sporting director from 2012 onwards, it was announced on Tuesday. Michael resigned from his current post as Williams’ technical director in May and his last race with the British team will be the forthcoming Singapore event later this month.

“I’m extremely excited to be joining Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,” said Michael. “Being a racer my whole life, I know that McLaren is one of the all-time greats of Formula One. I already know and respect many of the team’s senior technical management figures, and becoming a member of that excellent working unit was one of the prime attractions of this new position.

“Equally, for some time I’ve closely observed and greatly admired both Lewis and Jenson as grade-one drivers, and therefore regard it as an enormous privilege to be able to work with both of them. I’ve spent 11 seasons with Williams, have many fond memories, and truly wish them all the best. 

“In the near future, however, I will become 100 per cent focused on McLaren, and will be aiming to ensure that the team’s famous rocket-red victory T-shirts will be seen many times over the coming years.”

Michael started his Grand Prix career with Team Lotus in 1993 and joined Jordan Grand Prix in 1995, where he established the team’s R&D group before progressing into a senior race engineering role. In 2001 he joined Williams as chief operations engineer, becoming the team’s technical director in 2004.

“Speaking on behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I’m very pleased to welcome Sam as an important senior addition to our race team,” said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “He’ll bring a very valuable blend of experience and expertise to our pit wall, and will also enrich the technical management we provide for our drivers.

“I’m certain he’ll work extremely well with our senior technical management team, which I firmly believe will now become the strongest in all of Formula One.”

Frank Williams, founder and team principal of Williams, added: "I am delighted that Sam has found a new role that will enable him to continue to apply his energy, passion and experience to Formula One. On behalf of everyone at Williams I wish him a successful move to his new team.

"I would also like to thank Sam for his help in enabling a swift and smooth transition to our new technical leadership. Mike Coughlan and Jason Somerville are settling in very well and the restructuring will be complete when Mark Gillan joins us as chief operations engineer on 19 September."

As McLaren’s sporting director, Michael will join the senior management team in addition to taking specific responsibility for the development and management of the team’s trackside operations. It is hoped his vast experience and profound understanding of race operations will enhance the team’s on-track capability.



Mclaren Rear Wing

In Italy McLaren are using the same rear wing they introduced in Spa. It is a touch more angled than those found on other cars, but seems to be advantageous in terms of grip into and out of corners and in braking areas, which in turn helps to conserve tyres.