Going into to the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend the question on the minds of Formula 1 fans was if Mercedes AMG would finally be able to put the pieces together and get a strong finish. The answer turned out to be yes as the team converted their second straight front row lockout in qualifying to a P1 and P4 finish on the streets of Monte Carlo.
Now as the season heads to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix the same questions are being floated out there, but this time the team under the microscope is McLaren.
The scenarios are different between Mercedes and McLaren because while Mercedes was building high race expectations with consistently fast times in practice and qualifying, McLaren has been soundly lackluster all year.
The best qualifying result for the team thus far has been a pair of P7s, one from Jenson Button in Malaysia and one from Sergio Perez in Monaco. Button’s P5 finish in China has been the best race finish for the Woking, UK based crew, while the best Perez has managed is a P6 in Bahrain. Perez has finished outside of the top 10 in three of the six races so far in 2013, and Button has missed out on the top 10 once with a P17 in Malaysia.
In addition to the frustration of not placing well in qualifying or on race day, there has been some friction between the two wheel men as well. Perez and Button clashed on the track at the Bahrain Grand Prix, which prompted Button to take to the radio and tell the team to calm Checo down. The two had another intense encounter at Monaco where Perez also had a literal run-in with Kimi Raikkonen for the second time this season.
With other drivers repeatedly calling out Perez for being a dirty driver and Button seeming like he isn’t overly fond of his team mate it is looking like McLaren is in for a long season if adjustments aren’t made immediately.
Canada presents an opportunity for McLaren to change their luck. The team has won the past three runnings of the race and five of the last seven in Montreal. It should be noted that of those seven wins only one was attained by a driver currently on the team, but the number of wins in recent years would suggest that McLaren has a very good idea of how to win in Montreal.
McLaren is currently sixth in the constructor’s points. If they don’t turn their season around soon they run the risk of finishing outside of the top 5 in the constructor’s championship for the first time since the 2007 season. That is not where McLaren wants to be going into 2014 when the F1 pecking order could really get shaken up by the introduction of the new V6 engines.
McLaren must make the adjustments they need to both their cars and drivers in order to keep their place amongst the top tier of Formula One teams. A strong finish from both Perez and Button is needed in Canada, then they have to build on that and salvage McLaren’s season.
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