McLaren exists to win, always seeks to excel, as any glance through a Formula 1™ record book will quickly confirm.
But there have been some years when the boys and girls from Woking have found themselves swimming against the tide, whether sporting or technical, wherein pulling out all the stops - no, make that straining every carbonfibre sinew - has still failed to bring home sufficient quantities of the glittering silverware that Ron Dennis so covets.
And, yes, 2012 is one such year, five great grand prix victories so far notwithstanding, it has to be said. Yet you may be well sure that Martin Whitmarsh and his band of earnest, skilled and still-merry men and women will be doing their damnedest to score wins numbers six and seven in Austin and Sao Paulo later this month.
That is the McLaren way - indeed it is the only that is known by those who carry out their trackside exertions, in their lurid Vodafone-branded apparel, in the frenzy of heat, dust and noise that is the stuff of life in the Formula 1™ paddock and pitlane.
So, as we look forward to the 2013 season, wherein once again Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will be waging high-tech war in an effort to win the drivers' and constructors' world championships for which they have just slipped out of contention this past month, I find myself casting my mind back exactly 20 years, to the autumn/winter of 1992.
Retaining the services of the great Ayrton Senna for 1993 was one such example of McLaren pulling out all the stops. Honda had just rounded off its free-supply contract with the team, and McLaren would now have to go into battle using comparatively humdrum paid-for Cosworth engines that represented a significant financial investment.
Over the winter of 1992-93 Ayrton spent most of the time soaking up the sun in his beloved Brazil, exclusive private film footage of which viewers of the recent Senna movie will have seen. Goodness knows how many thousands of pounds Ron must have spent on the phone during that time, putting McLaren's case to his vacillating superstar in his ponderous yet persuasive way, his verbose and idiosyncratic syntax no doubt boosting British Telecom's profits in the team's pre-Vodafone era.
Despite Ron's oratorical blandishments, it soon became clear that Ayrton was prepared to sit it out and play the long game. When Ron explained to Ayrton that McLaren would have to shoulder the cost of paying for Cosworth engines in 1993, his stubborn liege would simply brush the argument aside. His job in the cockpit, he explained, would be exactly the same, and therefore deserved identical remuneration, whether McLaren's engines would be paid-for or free-of-charge. E logico!
We journalists watched and listened from the sidelines, hearing a whisper here, catching a snippet there. We wrote what we thought we knew; but, as is almost always more often the case than we care to admit, for the most part we were not much the wiser.
In the end, the deal was done. Ron had got his man - but Ayrton had exacted a hefty premium.
Ron is wittier and more fun-loving than outsiders give him credit for - and Ayrton, too, was more often up for a laugh than his brooding in-cockpit expressions, seemingly ever-present in the biopic that bears his name, would lead you to believe.
Even so, Ron is, and Ayrton was, a true Formula 1™ poker-face. In truth, unsurprisingly, then, both men had played their hands well. Their agreement, when finally it was signed and sealed, suited them both - and, the moment the locks on Ayrton’s briefcase had slammed shut, with his freshly inked contract neatly folded inside, his eyes were once again glimmering, sparkly and fresh, in anticipation of the 1993 season ahead.
As things panned out, Alain Prost and his Williams-Renault FW15C proved serenely dominant all year. Alain won seven grands prix - and even his rookie team-mate, one Damon Graham Devereux Hill, claimed a hat-trick of victories.
Of the season's 16 grands prix, either Alain or Damon took pole position in all of the first 15, leaving just a solitary qualifying P1 for Ayrton, the sport's undisputed pole-meister, scored on the streets of Adelaide, which as always in those days was the season's finale.
But, despite the Williams-Renaults' season-long qualifying supremacy, Ayrton raced superbly all year. He won that Australian Grand Prix, his fifth victory in a year during which he'd had to dig deeper than ever before in his efforts to produce the blitzkrieg lap-times that he habitually demanded of himself, shaded as they almost always were by the casually rapid Williams-Renault men, Alain and Damon using 95 per cent of their cars' awesome capabilities to achieve 105 per cent of whatever hard-won white-knuckle speed Ayrton had managed to dredge from his outclassed McLaren-Cosworth.
Some of Ayrton's wins that year were truly mighty - indeed they had to be - none more so than that at Donington, in torrential rain, a weather condition that is far from unusual in Leicestershire in April, and which Ayrton handled by an order of magnitude better than everyone else. He won at Interlagos, Monaco and Suzuka too - formidable racetracks on which he had always excelled, had always managed to bridge the performance gap to others' machinery if a gap there was that needed bridging, his mega-talent finding grip and lap-time where his rivals knew not even where to look for it.
As he stood atop the Adelaide podium, in balmy late-afternoon November sunshine, happily taking the plaudits, none of us watching had any idea that it would be his last victory in Formula 1™. Second was Alain, already world champion for the fourth time, and looking forward to retirement. Third was Damon, clean-cut and fresh-faced then but now a grey-whiskered pundit for Sky Sports F1™.
Three years later he would become world champion himself - but, despite that success, and despite his 22 grand prix victories, in many ways his most poignant claim to Formula 1™ fame is that he it was who stood alongside two of McLaren's greatest ever drivers, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, as they smiled and waved and sprayed bubbly from a grand prix podium, both of them, for the very last time.
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