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McLaren

It is becoming increasingly clear that my earlier argument that, if F1 is serious about providing the closest racing and the best spectacle, it really should abandon the massive shift in car design that is, now, only eight (or less) races away. The new qualifying format creates ample opportunity for the grid to be turned on its head and that helps but, as the race in Zandvoort showed, the fact that the lower budget teams have now had the chance to catch up with the big spenders has brought most of the pack into contention, as McLaren's historic first and second demonstrated in Monza.

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The Styrian Grand Prix was very misleading. It looked processional, almost pedestrian. But it was far from that. Equally importantly, it wasn't a race of pit-stop strategies. Yes, there were some tyre management strategies employed - and if they demonstrated anything it was that, in general, it doesn't matter what tyres are used in which order and, equally, it isn't critical if drivers burn the tyres early in a stint or at the end. In fact, the only thing about tyres was whether they would determine a one or two stop race.

What really matters is that Red Bull and their soon-to-be-former engine supplier Honda have quietly gone about producing a car that is faster and handles better than the Mercedes. At the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton implied that his only hope for a win was that it would rain. It didn't.

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Lewis Hamilton made perhaps the most prescient statement of recent times in Formula One. He said that Ferrari have a faster car than Mercedes. But Mercedes, he said, have the better team, saying that the systems, the strength in depth in all departments, the stability are what give him and team-mate Valtteri Bottas the machinery that allows them to do the job. And with four one-two finishes in the first four races, in each case at least in part due to Ferrari fluffing something, even in the dense air of below sea level Baku which should have increased the red cars' performance advantage, it's increasingly looking as if he's right. But the apparent Sunday afternoon jog for the two Mercedes drivers around the streets of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, is as much to do with the failures of others as the strength of Mercedes. Ferrari are not the only ones struggling to get it together.
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Some people think Jenson Button is just doing a contractual obligation race because he's possibly the most relaxed man, woman or child in the entire paddock. Hell, sans alcool, he may just be the most relaxed person in Monaco. Does that mean he's dozing off? Not at all: the consummate racing professional is back, and with it McLaren's best brand ambassador. Just don't mention Honda...

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Pirelli made a good decision for the Bahrain race: take two tyre compounds that are very similar. That negated pretty much all the pit-lane decisions that have led to what basically amounts to racing by remote control. But all was not rosy.

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