McLaren still aiming for wins in 2009, says Whitmarsh

McLaren-Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh has said his team is intending to win races in 2009, despite speculation they were switching their attention to the 2010 season.

Lewis Hamilton’s MP4-24 showed marked improvement at the last race in Germany and Whitmarsh today said that although 2010 was important, wins remained within McLaren’s grasp this season.

“There was some progress in Germany and we have to make sure that we keep pushing and have better results in the next race,” he told AUTOSPORT. “We always go for the victory, but we don’t always have the equipment to go for it. Hopefully in Hungary we will have the equipment to really go for it.”

“We aren’t going to win this year’s world championship and we have to do a better job next year,” he said. “We have got a lot more effort on next year’s programme that we did this time last year, but we have to make sure we don’t get distracted.

“Have we transformed the car into a race winner? Not quite. Have we made some progress? Yes. Does it demonstrate some of the philosophy that is going into next year’s car is the right direction? I think it does. So that is encouraging. We have to make sure we focus on that.

“We will continue to develop this car. We have completely changed the aerodynamic philosophy, the aero flow around the car, and although I am not an aerodynamicist I can see in the data that the guys now are finding performance.

“So we have a fresh start, we have a better baseline and the ability now to develop the car so I think the car will develop quite a lot in the rest of this year.

Whitmarsh pointed out the importance of continuity in car development.

“We have to make sure that we invest that development in areas that improve our learning and hopefully lead into the development of next year’s car, rather than some of the fiddly bits on this year’s car which won’t help us next year.”

Some other underperforming teams, notably Ferrari, are thought to have minimised development on their current machine in order to maximise their potential in 2010.