Category Archives: McLaren Moments

McLaren Moments #3 – ‘Lie-gate’

Let’s quickly list the main points:

  • The last lap of the Australian Grand Prix was under safety car conditions
  • Jarno Trulli went off the track so Lewis Hamilton overtook him, a legal manoeuvre
  • McLaren told Hamilton to give the place back to Trulli, they didn’t need to do this
  • On realising they didn’t need to give the place back, McLaren protested, saying Trulli overtook under safety car conditions
  • Hamilton was awarded 3rd place
  • When called in front of the FIA, Dave Ryan told Hamilton to lie and say that Trulli overtook him
  • The radio communication was found, and showed McLaren did tell Hamilton to give the place back to Trulli
  • Dave Ryan was suspended and then let go from McLaren, Hamilton was disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix and McLaren were given a 3 race suspended sentence
  • Lewis Hamilton at the press conference in Malaysia
    [picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=lewis+hamilton+malaysia+2009&iid=4444279″ src=”2/7/e/a/PicImg_F1_Grand_Prix_62cd.jpg?adImageId=8898471&imageId=4444279″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]

    This was a low point for McLaren, for Lewis Hamilton and as a McLaren Fan. The very post of this blog covered my initial thoughts of what happened and can be read here. As much as it felt like the world had come crashing down around Hamilton and McLaren, they got over this, and as the season went on Lewis Hamilton grew into a very mature Formula 1 driver, one that we could once again be proud of.

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    Filed under Constructors, Drivers, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, McLaren Moments

    McLaren Moments #2 – Australian Grand Prix 2009

    After the disappointing testing sessions in Spain I was looking to the Australian Grand Prix with a mixture of hope and fear.

    Lewis Hamilton at the Friday practice session in Australia
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    The Friday and Saturday practice sessions didn’t do a great deal to alleviate my fears that McLaren were going to have a rotten race, and probably a rotten season too. Qualifying didn’t prove to be the saving grace for McLaren as Hamilton ended up 15th with Kovalainen 14th. I didn’t end there, a gear box change meant that Hamilton dropped 5 grid places to 20th – at the very back of the grid, not an auspicious start to the 2009 season for the 2008 World Champion!

    Thankfully problems with other drivers meant that Hamilton actually started in 18th, not on the back row at least. In the first 5 laps Hamilton had charged his way up to 10th place, a sure sign that he was not resigning himself to defeat, despite driving a car far below his race winning expectations. By the end of the race he was up to 4th place, and behind the safety car he overtook Jarno Trulli when the Italian went off the race track, a legal manoeuvre. Trulli rejoined the race track and then overtook Hamilton to take his 3rd place back, an illegal manoeuvre. An inquest would see Hamilton given 3rd place back, but this was after the race and he didn’t get to claim his quite remarkable podium place.

    Lewis Hamilton during the 2009 Australian Grand Prix
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    Heikki Kovalainen wasn’t as fortunate as a first corner incident with Mark Weber saw the Fins race finished before even one lap had been completed.

    At this point Hamilton was 3rd in the drivers Championship and things weren’t looking as bad as I’d initially feared – in fact I was positively thrilled with Hamilton’s performance and McLaren’s turn of fortune. However, that was all about to change, but we’ll wait till McLaren Moments #3 to discuss the nightmare of the media labelled lie-gate!

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    Filed under Australian, Constructors, Drivers, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, McLaren Moments

    McLaren Moments #1 – Testing in Barcelona and Jerez, March 2009

    Over the past few years I have been discovering new parts of Formula 1 which go toward making up the whole season – in 2009 it was pre-season testing. As a McLaren fan I was waiting with baited breath to see how the new MP4-24 was going to perform.

    Lewis Hamilton testing in Jerez, Spain in February 2009
    [picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=mclaren+testing+2009&iid=3952025″ src=”3/d/a/4/F1_Testing_Sessions_68df.jpg?adImageId=8079578&imageId=3952025″ width=”500″ height=”375″ /]

    Things seemed to be going well for McLaren in February when the testing took place in Jerez, Spain. From my limited knowledge of testing this didn’t appear to be the test of how fast the cars would go but more a fact finding mission – highlighted by Sebastian Bourdais being the fastest man in his Torro Rosso by some 2 seconds a lap on the final day of testing!

    It was a month later in Jerez and Barcelona that would be more of an indication of how the cars would fare heading into the first race in Australia, and it was during this testing session that things started to take a turn for the worse for McLaren.

    Heikki Kovalainen testing in Jerez, March 2nd 2009
    [picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=mclaren+testing+jerez+2009&iid=4145916″ src=”5/9/6/c/Formula_One_Testing_b8c3.jpg?adImageId=8079788&imageId=4145916″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]

    March 1-5 2009 – Jerez, Spain
    Day 1 – Pedro de la Rosa – 7th out of 8 drivers
    Day 2 – Heikki Kovalainen – 6th out of 7 drivers
    Day 3 – Heikki Kovalainen – 4th out of 8 drivers
    Day 4 – Lewis Hamilton – 8th out of 9 drivers
    Day 5 – Lewis Hamilton – 3rd out of 6th drivers

    Not the strongest set of testing, and at this point I was a little concerned. Bear in mind just a few months ago we’d seen Lewis Hamilton crowned the Drivers Champion, how could the MP4-24 be so much worse than the MP4-23? At this point, as a McLaren fan, you start to persuade yourself that maybe McLaren are still testing various bits of the car and not going for out and out speed, it’ll be better in Barcelona.

    Lewis Hamilton testing in Barcelona, March 12th 2009
    [picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=mclaren+testing+barcelona+2009&iid=4231964″ src=”e/3/e/6/PicImg_F1_Testing_cec0.jpg?adImageId=8079872&imageId=4231964″ width=”500″ height=”340″ /]

    March 9-12 2009 – Barcelona, Spain
    Day 1 – Heikki Kovalainen – 10th out of 10 drivers
    Day 2 – Heikki Kovalainen – 9th out of 11 drivers (10th & 11th Torro Rosso)
    Day 3 – Lewis Hamilton – 10th out of 10 drivers
    Day 4 – Lewis Hamilton – 8th out of 11 drivers

    Things took a turn for the worse, if you can believe that, in Barcelona as McLaren seemed to fall even further behind the leading cars. This set of testing also saw the introduction of the new rear diffuser on some cars (not McLaren), and the circus that ensued. It also saw us introduced to the brand new Brawn GP cars, and their blistering pace. Maybe McLaren are sandbagging, yes, that’s what must be happening because they surely can’t be that bad, can they?

    March 16-19 2009 – Jerez, Spain
    Day 1 – Lewis Hamilton – 4th out of 5 drivers
    Day 2 – Lewis Hamilton – 4th out of 4 drivers
    Day 3 – Heikki Kovalainen – 1st out of 2 drivers
    Day 4 – Heikki Kovalainen – 2nd out of 2 drivers

    So that was the end of the testing, and the last session in Jerez didn’t seem to point in the desired direction of the McLaren MP4-24 being a race winning car (remember that come Hungaroring). At the time I was hoping that there were last minute modifications that would make Lewis and Heikki competitive come race day, but it wasn’t a fun time to be a McLaren fan.

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    Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, McLaren, McLaren Moments, Testing