Although they are leading both world championships, McLaren are still taking the Ferrari threat seriously.
Lewis Hamilton is currently top of the drivers championship standings, a full 15 points clear of the top Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa. In the manufacturers championship, McLaren are 11 points ahead of Ferrari and this margin could increase if their appeal against the decision in Hungary is overturned.
Despite these figures, McLaren have admitted that the championship is still open and the threat from Ferrari needs to be taken seriously.
“Whilst we are arriving in Monza leading both championships, we are more than aware they are both still very open,â€ Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren commented. “There are a lot of points to be won over the next six weeks and the determination within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to take as many as possible is massive.
“Monza is very individual in terms of characteristics and, with this in mind, the test this week has enabled the successful proving process of a number of key components and we are feeling cautious optimistic going into this race.â€
Italy and Belgium are hosting the next two Grand Prixs and both have circuits which are renowned for being high-speed, therefore requiring strong engines. Norbert Haug, motor sport boss at Mercedes Benz, believes that one of the biggest challenges facing all the teams in the next two races is getting through them using just the one engine.
“At around 80%, Monza has the highest full-throttle proportion per lap of all Formula 1 racetracks,â€ he explained. “However, the following race will challenge the engines even more. As scheduled, we will start Monza with a new engine in both cars which, according to the rules, is designed to be used in Spa as well.
“The combination of these two circuits is the highest expected strain for an engine so far since the new V8 engine generation has been introduced last year.â€