F1 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix

Sunday afternoon saw F1's sleeping giant finally stir after almost a decade of mediocrity in the globe's premier motor-racing championship.

McLaren Mercedes crossed the line in position one for the first time since Jenson Button's win at Interlagos in 2012 - 3214 days between wins for the Woking-based team.

More incredibly it was their first '1-2' finish since Canada 2010 - 3988 days prior to Monza.

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Many teams have had longer gaps or more commonly have never achieved the feat, so McLaren is in rarified air as it is.

But as we are well aware, the papaya-cladded outfit aren't any team.

The third-most successful constructor ever with eight world titles, McLaren are steeped in F1 folklore for being one of the most dominant teams in their hey-day.

Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost's 1988 McLaren MP4/4 was statistically speaking the most successful car of all time, winning 15 out of a possible 16 races in a season where the team won the constructors championship with a stunning 134-point gap to second-placed Ferrari.

Despite McLaren not having won a constructors title since 1998 when Mika Hakkinen also claimed victory in the drivers championship to seal a historic double, the team had been thereabouts for the 2000's.

They gave Hakkinen a championship winning car in 1999 and the same to a 23-year-old Lewis Hamilton in 2008 before settling in for a few years of playing the bridesmaid in the constructors championship.

After finishing third in the 2012 constructors championship, the team tapered off - steeply.

Fifth in 2013 and 2014 would be the highest position they would finish until 2019, with their lowest finishing position being ninth - second last - in 2015 and 2017.

So what changed?

The entrance of the Mercedes works team into the sport in 2010 meant that McLaren's engine supplier, who previously provided only the Woking team's power unit, were now McLaren's competition.

Add in the fact that in 2013 and '14 the team developed a shocking car whilst Mercedes began their golden era, things at McLaren weren't looking too rosy.

This pressure resulted in the team electing to ditch Mercedes as their engine supplier in 2015 and return to Honda, with the Japanese supplier not having been in the sport since 2008.

What followed was some of the worst finishes McLaren had endured since their very existence, entrenched firmly in the midfield and in some years even at the bottom of the pack.

So horrible was the engine that Honda gave them that the team elected to jump ship to Renault for season 2018 after a measly three years with an engine supplier that was intrinsically linked to the history of McLaren.

In 2018 the company also performed a corporate restructure, bringing in CEO Zak Brown to become the head of McLaren Racing.

This signaled a significant change in fortune for the Woking side.

The 2018 F1 season saw McLaren make the leap to sixth in the constructors championship, small but valuable steps for the team.

2019 saw them take the biggest jump in a long while as they finished fourth in the championship, with Spanish star Carlos Sainz Jr. and rookie Lando Norris guiding McLaren to 'best of the rest' status.

However a pandemic-interrupted 2020 was where it seemed like team papaya were getting even closer to the top of the pack.

A third-placed constructors finish including two podiums signaled the intent of McLaren with 2021 set to be the year many expected for them to naturally take the next stride and win a race.

And take strides they did.

Their deal to switch to a Mercedes power unit - the certified best engine of the turbo-hybrid era - was a huge step in the right direction.

This meant that the intense development that was being made before could be even further enhanced with the heart of the car now undeniably top-tier.

It helped that the McLaren has become known in the paddock this year as the fastest car in a straight line, meaning that power tracks such as Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and Mexico would be the strongest for the Woking outfit.

Going into Monza, the team already were performing to expectations with Lando Norris having snatched up three podiums at Imola, Monaco and Austria.

His newly arrived teammate Daniel Ricciardo was struggling to get to grips with the car and many thought that the 32-year-old's Grand Prix-winning window was over.

That was until Sunday afternoon.

Following Valterri Bottas' 19-place grid-penalty for fresh engine components and a successful sprint race, McLaren now found themselves in P2 and 3 going into the main race, with Ricciardo ahead of Norris in rare scenes for season 2021.

Off the line, McLaren's pace was evident with Ricciardo taking the inside into turn one ahead of Max Verstappen and snatching the lead of the race.

The 23-year-old tried his hardest to get past the Australian during his first stint on his medium-compound tyres but dirty air coupled with the McLaren's straight-line speed made it damn near impossible.

The ensuing collision between Hamilton and Verstappen would have put butterflies in the pit of Ricciardo's stomach, with the Aussie having his best chance in almost four seasons to go on and win the race.

A smooth restart meant that Norris was able to climb into P2 and play rear-gunner to Ricciardo, making sure Sergio Perez nor the rapidly-closing Valtteri Bottas were able to overtake him and disrupt what would be an emotional '1-2' finish for the team.

What showed in those closing laps of the grand prix was the maturity and craft of both these drivers and, moreover, the fact that McLaren had a car capable of winning races on pure merit.

As Ricciardo and Norris crossed the line, the arc was complete. McLaren were back to winning ways and the fans across the globe rejoiced for it.

With the car that the team had produced and the events that unfolded prior to lights-out on Sunday, 'The Honey Badger' was confident that the result would come.

"I feel like the writing was on the wall from the start of the weekend," the race-winner told F1 TV.

"I'm not surprised [to be a race winner], I'm just overwhelmed.

"If [McLaren] knew we had a chance, we knew we were gonna take it."

What does this mean now for the team from Woking?

The constructor now know what their car is capable of on their day and they will now use this historic weekend as the benchmark for the future.

Although 2022 will completely shake things up with a new car and regulations, McLaren have never been in a better position than now to deal with this change.

And with two bright drivers at the helm, it seems the only way is up from here.