After last season’s world championship results, many will be tipping the current Constructors’ Champions Red Bull – Renault, as the car that leads the field over the next Championship. The pace has already been set by Red Bull and Ferrari during the pre-season test in Barcelona. However, McLaren have made some dramatic alterations that they hope will put them ahead of their competitors in the first Sunday race of 2011.
Our two ‘golden boys’ of McLaren have struggled in pre-season testing, causing many to think that they are not in with a shout of picking up a Constructors’ Championship victory this season. However, McLaren have made some interesting changes that may shake up the pack, and prove that pre-season results are not reflective of their capabilities. The changes that have been made are supposed to deliver a “one second” advantage over the competition, according to Whitmarsh, which in F1 is all important.
Changes to the car’s exhaust design, nose and floor hope to provide McLaren with a competitive edge. However, Whitmarsh has admitted that the changes are regressive rather than progressive, as they have returned to a simpler design. There aim is to create critical aerodynamic down force, but the practicalities of this are far from achievable for McLaren. In relation to these changes, Whitmarsh stated, “We had some very creative ideas, some of which could have worked spectacularly well, but in order to work spectacularly well they had to be sufficiently durable to be race able – and frankly some of our solutions weren’t,”.
Reliability of the McLaren, which has been labelled as a “bigger issue” by Button, is also an aspect that some rival teams may choose to capitalise on. The reliability of the McLaren has already hindered pre-season practice in Barcelona and the team will be anxious that this does not become a problem in the Championship proper.
With last year’s standings as a guide, many will tip Red Bull to hold on to the Championship for a second year running. Pundits have tipped Ferrari as the runners up, with McLaren finishing a close third. Unless these dramatic changes to McLaren’s car pays off, I think we will see a similar repeat of last season’s results.