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McLaren's Paddy Lowe has taken a moment to reflect on a dramatic start to 2011 for the Woking team. Having been off the pace - only achieving more mileage than Lotus, Virgin and Hispania in pre-season testing - the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have since surprised all with their on-track performances.
After each driver notched up respective podium results in Australia and Malaysia, Hamilton somewhat shocked the establishment by delivering a dramatic and well-timed drive to victory in China. Technical Director Lowe now explains the sudden rise from midfield to front-running pace:
'The winter tests in February and early March were probably some of our most challenging experiences in terms of running reliability that I can remember in 20 years. It was an exhausting month for everyone at Woking and Brixworth.
There weren’t actually that many issues, but we kept experiencing a variety of failures with our new exhaust system. We’d come into the circuit each morning thinking we’d fixed the problems of the previous day, only to be met with a fresh series of trials the next day! Those days were very difficult for the team.
That experience prompted us to re-design the exhaust package in time for the first race in Australia. In fact, first practice at Albert Park was the very first time we ran the car in that new configuration. It was also the first time we’d done significant mileage in a single day.
Things came together just in time – and that was down to a combination of factors: we were lucky, I have to admit, but it was much more than luck.
You have to factor in the skill of the team to work together in a very short period of time to push in a completely different direction; to understand all the different issues – the reliability, the performance – the skills of the team, all the tools they’ve created over the years; they all came through to our profit.'
Also on Thursday:
- Button: My career will end with McLaren
- ‘Qualifying can improve with bodywork changes’
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