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Martin Whitmarsh has emphasised that McLaren’s qualifying speed must be bettered in order to launch the strongest possible title attack this season. The quest will begin in Istanbul next weekend, where the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will run with several updates to their bodywork in practice.
Although the Woking-built MP4-26 was comparable to Red Bull’s RB7 on race pace in China, Sebastian Vettel was still able to clinch pole position by a sizeable seven tenths of a second.
“We’re excited and encouraged by the pace and consistency that both drivers have shown in the opening three flyaway races, but the return to Europe brings fresh challenges,” Team Principal Whitmarsh said on Thursday, with McLaren currently sitting 20 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.
“We’re under no illusions that we need to improve our qualifying and race pace if we are to remain a threat at the front. Additionally, many teams will be readying significant upgrade packages for the Turkish Grand Prix; nobody can afford to sit still.
“For this race, we’ll be evaluating a number of small modifications – which include some aerodynamic refinements to the bodywork – during Friday practice.
“Our pace of development is what can win us this championship and we go into Turkey determined to ensure our upgrades deliver practical gains and are able to confer a useful margin to both drivers.”
Also on Thursday:
- Button: My career will end with McLaren
- McLaren’s Lowe: Hardest winter for 20 years
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