Whitmarsh: McLaren must push on to ensure title bid remains on course

Martin Whitmarsh believes that McLaren cannot afford to be complacent, as the team looks to extend its advantage in both championships at the German Grand Prix.

The Woking-based team continues to maintain a healthy lead in the constructors’ championship, with both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button topping the drivers’ standings.

However, the McLaren team principal believes that it would be wrong for the outfit to rest on its laurels, and expects upgrades scheduled for Hockenheim to move the MP4-25 forward.

“We’ve come off an extremely successful run of recent races, but we’re nonetheless under no illusions that we need to bring further performance to the MP4-25 if we are to remain at the forefront of this championship battle.” Whitmarsh said in McLaren’s German Grand Prix Preview

“I think Silverstone showed that we were in no mood to be complacent either in our aggressive push to put upgrades on the car or our decision to remove them and put our faith in an older iteration of the car, despite a lack of running compared with our rivals. It’s ambition and decisiveness that win world championships, and, on both counts, I think we got that blend just right last weekend, which is pleasing.

“The days since the Santander British Grand Prix have been spent back at the MTC industriously undertaking rig tests, dyno running and development in the wind tunnel to ensure that the future deployment of the blown diffuser gives us a more accurate and beneficial read.

“Of course, that final validation will only come at the circuit. So we’re looking at undertaking a major test programme on Friday at Hockenheim. This will involve both drivers running back-to-back evaluations with the T2 and T3 floors.

“And, if these prove positive, we’ll then look at the deployment of the new floor for the remainder of the race weekend. But that’s a decision we’ll only make after a thorough analysis of the inherent risks and benefits.”

Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to next weekend’s race and his hoping to repeat the victory which he secured at the Hockenheim circuit in 2008.

“I won the last race at Hockenheim in 2008 we had a fantastic car, I got pole position and had a great battle through the field after a mid-race Safety Car to win.” he said. “So I’d really love the same outcome next weekend!”

“While there are quite a few low-speed corners that require good traction, I think we’ll be on more familiar ground at Hockenheim, and should be able to successfully balance our car to be relatively competitive around there.

“The big question mark surrounds some of the other top teams they’ve shown improved performance over the past two or three races, even if they’ve not fully managed to score the results that their pace suggests.

“So it will be interesting to see just how close things have become up at the sharp end, because this could affect the way the world championship plays out, particularly if more teams start challenging for victory in the second half of the season.

“So I think the Santander German Grand Prix will give us a very good read on form for the second half of the season.”

Team-mate Jenson Button is also relishing returning to Germany and is confident that he will be able to get on top of the problems which hampered qualifying in Valencia and Silverstone.

The reigning world champion said: “My most memorable experience at Hockenheim must be back in 2004, when I qualified 13th and raced through the field to finish second – so not too dissimilar to my race at Silverstone last week, then!”

“Seriously, though, I enjoy racing at Hockenheim: I miss the long, flat-out straights that made up the circuit at the start of my Formula 1 career, that was pretty unique. But the current track is better for the spectators and has shown itself to be a very good place for both racing and overtaking.

“After two disappointments in qualifying at Valencia and Silverstone, my aim for this weekend must be to make life easier for myself on Saturday afternoon, so that I can maximise my performance on Sunday without needing to play catch-up during the race.

“This will be another busy weekend for all of us as we spend Friday working through the changes we’ve made to optimise the blown diffuser. Hopefully, we’ll have a positive test and will be able to see the benefits of the upgrades in the race for the first time. I’m looking forward to it.”