After having clearly the fastest car on the grid in the opening races of the year McLaren lost their way in development and have spent the last four races trying to reclaim their position at the front of the field.
In their third season as a pairing Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have had contrasting seasons. Button has been unable to maximise the car in the same vein as last year whereas Hamilton has curbed his aggression and refound the consistency that marked his rookie season in Formula 1.
Hamilton has won twice so far in 2012 and stood on the rostrum on one other occasion. He has been hamstrung by bad strategic decisions and poor pit-stops but overall an argument can be made the former champion is driving better than ever. Mid-season it seemed that every time Hamilton came into the pits a wheel nut wouldn’t tighten or a jack would fail. These struggles cost Hamilton points but even more importantly it cost McLaren momentum.
The team changed their pit-stop procedures and in the last four races they have been much improved. Setting blistering sub three second pit-stops has become the norm in modern day Formula 1 and McLaren have arguably become the fastest team in the pitlane since they rectified their problems.
This evolution of their pit-stops has given them a crucial edge and now with the car development having seen Button rediscover his form in the last two races McLaren look to be in a much stronger position going forward.
It has been a strange season for McLaren thus far with the team lying second in the Constructors’ championship yet still having underperformed for a large portion of the season. Having failed to take advantage of the undoubted early season speed advantage McLaren Hamilton won in Canada but from that point on it seemed they lost their way.
Their competitors brought numerous upgrades to consecutive races and McLaren seemed to lose their way but a major upgrade at Hockenheim has rejuvenated their season and they now look set to be a genuine threat at most races for the rest of the year with both Hamilton and Button having looked very competitive at the last two races.
Going forward they look ready to challenge for race wins for the rest of the season and with Hamilton driving superbly and having ironed out the mistakes that blighted recent campaigns he will be a very dangerous driver at most of the upcoming races and is still a contender for the championship.