Consolidation is never the most glamorous of words in the vocabulary of a team fighting for the Championship. Be that as it may, ‘consolidation will be the name of the game for McLaren this weekend, who spent the greater part of their summer holidays licking their wounds after a race to forget in Hungary.
As with all beasts with more than a smidgeon of fight in the veins, McLaren are intent on coming out fighting in Belgium. Knowing that to lose sight of the leaders in the development race could be critical for the season run-in means mistakes will count double.
Points benefit the brave also, not that the standings do much to prove that theory. They will be the first to admit that Spa and Monza are more than welcome sights, as unlike seasons of old, McLaren have been unable to build a car capable of its usual fleet footedness around tighter, slower corners.
Such problems will arise if you build one of the longest cars on the grid, though as we’ve all come to realize, early season problems getting the cars into the factory lifts have been the least of their problems.
If we were privy to the events of four weeks ago, we would have found head scratching drivers, engineers and mechanics alike on either side of the garage. While McLaren may not have had much time to rebuild their house, they have managed to do a bit of tidying up – call it a late summer clean if you will – at a track they hope will be kinder to them in tomorrows race.
The factory may have shut down but brains will have been working overtime over the course of the summer break. As I had mentioned earlier this season, the productivity of all that freshly sunned grey matter will be in the end what makes the difference – now more than ever.
A new front wing for cleaner airflow and essential tweaks to the top bodywork in order to allow the lower elements of the rear wing to do their job more effectively. Add to that the now numerous iterations of the infamous blown diffuser, and there lies the combination what will have to keep Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in the proverbial hunt until Singapore.
Today’s qualifying results – particularly Hamilton’s sterling front row grid spot – will give them every hope of staying in the mix until they can once again take the fight to Red Bull. Both will receive the updates that in reality will be their main hope of championship salvation.
With all the talk of flexing front wings, and without an intended pun in sight, something will have to give before long. Consolidation may be the word on the lips, but the racing heart of McLaren is still set on full attack.