Tyres the key to McLaren woes?

A conservative Michelin tyre choice is the most likely explanation for McLaren's worst qualifying performance of the season, at a track where they could reasonably have been expected to challenge hard

Tyres the key to McLaren woes?

David Coulthard will start the race from 10th position and team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who has never qualified lower than sixth this year, is 11th.

"We don't know," said team boss Ron Dennis when asked to explain the problem.

He added: "Our best estimate at the moment is tyres. That's not an excuse because of the competitiveness of other teams on Michelin tyres, but we know that Michelin was concerned after Hockenheim.

"I think certainly ourselves, and Williams, were surprised at the tyre choice for this event. Normally we see Williams running on the prime (harder) tyre and us on the option (softer) tyre. But here the prime is way out of range and the option is in a range that, maybe, we can't get our car to work in."

One source close to McLaren joked that the team could probably run the entire Indy 500 on its Hungarian tyre, never mind 30 laps of Hungaroring.

If the McLaren can perform on a softer tyre than many of the other Michelin teams, it begs the question why Michelin does not opt for a prime tyre that it knows will hold up, alongside an option tyre that is riskier but which might allow McLaren to challenge Ferrari, as the team did in Monte Carlo.

The political downside of that, however, is that beating Ferrari is a tall order anyway and if other Michelin teams are also tempted to run the soft, which subsequently falls apart, it leaves the company open to negative publicity.

"The Williams is a different animal and is more aggressive on its tyres," Dennis explained. "If you have that dynamic aggression, then it does mean that a harder tyre can work. If the ambient goes up tomorrow we could probably be reasonably competitive but around here it is so difficult to overtake. I think I've got a strong enough character, but tomorrow afternoon could see it strengthened a bit further..."

shares
comments
Grand Prix racing's widening horizons

Previous article

Grand Prix racing's widening horizons

Next article

Honda announces split with Jordan

Honda announces split with Jordan
Load comments
The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Plus

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Plus

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021