Whitmarsh ready for closely-fought battle
16 April 2012 – McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh is fully expecting a closely-fought season, despite his two drivers now being first and second in the standings. With five podium finishes out of six for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, the pair finished second and third in China and the former now heads the championship table.
“Nico (Rosberg) drove a truly excellent race, so first of all I want to say ‘bravo’ to him for taking his maiden Grand Prix victory,” Whitmarsh said after a dramatic encounter in Shanghai. “Well done too to Mercedes, who were able to manage their car’s tyre wear this afternoon better than we’d perhaps anticipated.
“As for Jenson and Lewis, well, they both drove brilliantly too, coping with a three-stop strategy that demanded that they attack and overtake, again and again and again throughout the race; that’s never easy and, inevitably, they both lost a bit of time on track in their efforts to make their passing manoeuvres stick, but they both kept at it and I’m sure the television spectacle was fantastic as a result.
“It was a tough race, but our strategy resulted in both our drivers getting onto the podium. Accordingly, we extended our lead in the Constructors’ World Championship whilst Lewis and Jenson now lie first and second in the Drivers’ Championship.”
Whitmarsh admits that a sticking left-rear wheel is likely to have lost Button a chance of winning the Chinese Grand Prix for the first time.
“Would Jenson have been able to beat Nico if his final pit-stop had gone more smoothly?” he ponders. “Well, obviously, he’d have lost less time in the pit lane and, undoubtedly, he’d have re-emerged onto the track with a clearer road in front of him.
"But, in all fairness, today was Nico’s day and we may not have been able to beat him even if Jenson’s final pit-stop had been an impeccably slick one. So, yes, at his 111th attempt, Nico fully deserved to win today.
“We’ve had three Grands Prix so far and they’ve been won by three different drivers from three different teams. The performance differential between the fastest cars is minimal. It looks like we’ve got a great season ahead of us, doesn’t it? Bring it on!”
McLaren is yet to win the Constructors’ crown since 1998.