McLaren celebrates 700 GPs - the 700th race
|2011 Korean GP - Yeongam, October 16 2011|
After the disappointment of the 2006 season, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes began 2007 with an exciting new driver line-up which delivered from the off. 2005-2006 World Champion Fernando Alonso and rookie Lewis Hamilton finished second and third in the first grand prix of the year and each went one better at the following round.
Fernando went on to win again at Monaco, the Nürburgring and Monza, while Lewis took his maiden victory in Canada – only his sixth grand prix – and followed it up with wins in the USA, Hungary and Japan. They also racked up eight pole positions and five fastest laps, both entering the final race of the year in contention for the Drivers’ Championship. Unfortunately a temporary gearbox issue early in the race cost Lewis vital positions, and he and Fernando finished joint second in the points standings.
The 2008 season had an even more thrilling denouement. Lewis and his new team-mate Heikki Kovalainen achieved eight pole positions between them and six wins, taking our all-time tally past the 160 mark in Germany. Lewis’s five wins made him a title contender going into the final round, but a sudden squall of rain with just a few laps to go at Interlagos threw the race into confusion. Lewis stopped for tyres appropriate to the conditions and on the last lap caught and passed Timo Glock, who had stayed out on slicks. Fifth place was enough to take the drivers’ title by one point.
After a challenging start to 2009 we improved the MP4-24 to the point where it was among the quickest cars on the grid. Lewis achieved a run of five podium positions in the second half of the season, including wins in Hungary and Singapore, both of which he started from pole.
2009 World Champion Jenson Button joined us for 2010, giving us a remarkably strong driver pairing. He and Lewis took 16 podium finishes, including five wins.
Lewis’s win in China this year, one of five Vodafone McLaren Mercedes victories so far in 2011, was our 170th. Jenson’s wins in Canada, Hungary and Japan have brought him closer to the runner-up position in the Drivers’ Championship, which has already been won by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
Elsewhere in 2011
Prince William, the eldest son of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, marries Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, watched by an estimated global TV audience of two billion.
Estonia becomes the 17th Eurozone country. Riots and looting break out in the UK during July following a police operation in North London.
An earthquake registering 9.1 on the Richter scale occurs off the east coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami. Almost 16,000 people are killed, with another 4000 unaccounted for. Four nuclear power stations are affected by the earthquake.
The space shuttle Atlantis completes the final mission of the programme, delivering a logistics module to the International Space Station.
US President Barack Obama announces that Osama Bin Laden has been found and killed by Special Operations forces operating in Pakistan.
England win the Six Nations rugby union tournament but are subsequently eliminated from the World Cup at the quarter final stage. Wimbledon marks its 125th anniversary; Novak Djokovic takes his second Grand Slam of the year and his first Wimbledon title, defeating Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3. Home favourite Andy Murray is knocked out by Nadal in the semi-finals.
Boardwalk Empire, the award-winning drama whose Martin Scorsese-directed pilot episode was the most expensive in US TV history, returns for a second series. Fox renews The Simpsons for two further seasons following extensive pay negotiations with the cast.
The digital TV switchover begins in earnest as the analogue signal is turned off in various parts of the UK. Scotland, where the long-running TV detective series Taggart is cancelled after a 28-year run, is the first region to go completely digital.
In music, Adele enjoys global success in the singles and album charts. Rolling In The Deep spends seven weeks at number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and Someone Like You ends the four-week tenure of Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera. REM and The White Stripes officially disband.
Nicole Scherzinger takes her first solo number one in the UK with Don’t Hold Your Breath, displacing Adele’s Someone Like You. Adele’s album 21 spends a total of 18 weeks at the top of the charts.
At the box office, sequels account for seven of the top ten highest grossing films. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 takes $1,326,850,747 worldwide to make it the third highest grossing film of all time behind Avatar and Titanic.