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McLaren best bet to challenge Red Bull for India GP

The elevation changes, long straight & flowing corners of the Buddh International Circuit make McLaren's world champions Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton the best bet to challenge Red Bull for a win at the Indian Grand Prix

Mclaren is one of Formula One's oldest teams -- since 1966 -- in the sport. The team was founded by New Zealander and F1 driver Bruce McLaren to participate in various championships across the globe including F1.
 

McLaren Mercedes drivers Jenson Button (left) & Lewis Hamilton.
Pic/AFP


The team has competed and won in the Indianapolis 500 and the Can-Am Racing Series in the past. F1's most successful drivers have driven for the Woking-based team since its inception. The most notable names are Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mika Hakkinen.

The team in its 45-year history in the sport has partnered with various car manufacturers including Porsche, Honda, Cosworth and Mercedes Benz. The team's most notable partnership has been with Honda, who they raced with for five seasons and won four championships, including their most successful campaign in 1988, where they won all but one race in the season.

Their existing partnership with Mercedes Benz since 1995, is one of the longest standing team-engine partnerships in F1. In fact, Mercedes Benz, who didn't have a factory racing team till 2009 were co-owners of McLaren. 2007 was Mclaren's worst season in F1 when they were caught cheating and excluded from the Constructors Championship. Mclaren's last world championship was in 2008, when Lewis Hamilton won the Drivers title. The team has not won the Constructors prize since 1998.

Mclaren gave their fans the jitters when they struggled for pace during pre-season tests this year. However, the team used their experience and resources well to deliver a consistently quick car. Being the only team with two world champion drivers -- Hamilton and Jenson Button, the expectations from McLaren have been sky high.
While the car has the pace to challenge the Red Bulls and beat the Ferraris at most circuits, the team has committed a host of errors to see themselves placed second in the World Constructors Championship (418 points). Since Red Bull clinched the Constructors title in Korea, Mclaren will be out to keep Ferrari, who are 118 points behind, at bay. The calm and composed Button is second in the drivers table, while the error-prone Hamilton is fifth. McLaren is one of only three teams to have scored wins (four) this year.

Indian GP prediction
The MP4-26 has adapted well to all the circuits this season and has sometimes shown better race pace than the Red Bull Racing cars. The car adjusts well to the Pirelli hard and soft compound tyres and isn't too affected by changes in the circuit temperature. The elevation changes, long straight and the flowing corners of the Buddh International Circuit shouldn't be too much of a challenge for Button or Hamilton and they are my best bet to challenge Red Bull for victory on Race Day.

McLaren Mercedes
*
 Established: 1963
* First Race: 1966 Monaco GP
* First victory: 1968 Belgian GP
* No of Championships: 8 (Constructors), 12 (Drivers)
* Key Management: Martin Whitmarsh (Team Principal), Paddy Lowe / Neil Oatley (Technical Directors)

2011 driver line-up
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Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button
* 2011 Car: McLaren MP4-26
* 2011 Engine Type: Mercedes Benz FO 108Y

India Connect
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The team's title partner Vodafone has been bringing Lewis Hamilton to India every year since 2008 to meet and interact with their retail consumers and B2B partners.

Pre-Indian GP activities
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Vodafone will run two key promotions. The first, 'Race to Fame', is targeted towards the retail consumer, where winners of a contest will get to be a part of the Mclaren team at the Indian GP. The other promo is for their SME (Small & Medium Enterprises), where one winning client will get their company's logo pasted on the McLaren racing car for the Indian GP.

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