Formula One: Can McLaren, Hamilton Build on Their German GP "Success"?

Daniel ZylberkanCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2009

NURBURG, GERMANY - JULY 10:  Heikki Kovalainen of Finland and McLaren Mercedes drives during practice for the German Formula One Grand Prix at Nurburgring on July 10, 2009 in Nurburg, Germany.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

After qualifying on Saturday, I wrote a very "cheery" article, saying that McLaren had turned a corner that after half a season of struggles maybe things would be getting better for the boys in silver and crimson. 

I'm hesitant to use the word success when talking about Sunday. Because an eighth place and a single point doesn't constitute success, but relative to how McLaren have been going in the past few races an eighth place seems like a podium.

Kovaleinen's season has been one of retirements. Heikki's reputation has always been that he's slow and cautious, and fairly a little mediocre.

But in 2009, something I called "Finn Karma" has struck Kovaleinen, because even Kimi Raikonnen who is a supremely skilled driver has real bad luck compared to the average driver. Retirements don't help the driver or the team, but if at the very least the car is running at the end of the race, it can help.

So while Hamilton has been slow, at very least he's been there at the end. Circulating at the back of the field and even a lap behind the leader but still running and gaining experience in an obviously sub-par car. 

In season testing and has been banned for the 2009 season and beyond.

So for a team like McLaren, an unsuccessful race can end up being an invaluable part of the team's development program. Data is the currency on which Formula One teams trade in and Hamilton's bad racing at the very least has been a huge store of data for evolution for the MP4/24 to take place.

So after the German Grand Prix, I think the word success can be used. McLaren locked out the third row of the grid. In a very solid qualifying session, showing how impressive Hamilton is when given the chance to be.

Thanks to KERS, Hamilton had the lead going into the first corner, but the bad luck once reserved for Kovaleinen struck Hamilton and what could have been a great race in the end was a bit of a disappointment.

But this a positive start for McLaren, it might well be the turning point we've all been waiting for and in the end this season might still be salvaged.