Guest Author - Christine Blachford
McLaren needed to have a good year, as 2007 was one to forget. Although Hamilton was in the running for the championship last year as well, there were too many other issues getting in the way. Firstly there was the inter-team squabbling with Alonso trying to find his feet and failing to do so. Then there was the espionage affair with Ferrari that meant all constructor points for McLaren were stripped away. The team were very competitive throughout the season, but they must have been glad to see 2007 come to an end.
Roll on 2008, then, and having split with Alonso, the new line up of Hamilton and Kovalainen looked like they were going to be even stronger. As this season wore on, it became obvious that Kovalainen wasn't going to be the star of the team, and was actually struggling to get matching performance with his team mate. However, Hamilton was on top form for the majority of the season. There were a few lapses of judgement, for instance the pit lane exit incident with Raikkonen, but over the course of the year, he made very few mistakes.
With some questionable stewarding decisions, the championship fight went down to the wire, literally to the last corner. But Hamilton came out victorious and is a deserving champion. Now the team have to look ahead to 2009 and hope they can repeat the performance.
The consistency of keeping Hamilton and Kovalainen will help them, and the team have already been working hard on the new regulations. We've already seen them demonstrate some of the new wings, and they've been developing their KERS package during the recent tests. The chances are high that McLaren will continue to be dominant in 2009, and be one of the teams fighting for the championship. For them, this is good news. They will want to prove something to current sponsor Santander, who are leaving them in 2010 for Ferrari.
There has been speculation for a long time over Ron Dennis' role in the team. We thought he might step down after the espionage affair, but it seemed as though he felt he had something to prove. Now that they have won a championship with all the odds against them, it seems likely that Martin Whitmarsh will continue to take on more responsibility. Hopefully, the team will be in safe hands.