Martin Whitmarsh has insisted that despite remaining atop the constructors' standings and with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button still similarly firmly ensconced in first and second positions in the drivers' title chase, McLaren-Mercedes won't be 'taking anything for granted' over the second half of the F1 2010 World Championship campaign – contending that the crown will ultimately be clinched through a combination of fewest errors and greatest development.
Arriving at Hockenheim this weekend for the German Grand Prix – the eleventh round of 19 on this season's schedule – the Woking-based concern currently leads closest rival Red Bull Racing by 29 points in the constructors' table, and has by all accounts dodged a bullet in recent outings by holding onto its advantage despite the RB6 reclaiming its status as the fastest thing on four wheels following a slight blip.
Team principal Whitmarsh concedes that the energy drinks-backed outfit remains McLaren's chief threat for glory, but the Englishman sought to underline that nor can you dismiss Ferrari from the equation just yet, nor even Mercedes Grand Prix – despite the pair trailing the championship leaders by 113 and 152 points respectively. The work, he stresses, can never stop.
“The atmosphere in the team is exactly as I'd hoped it would be,” he acknowledged, speaking in a special Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Phone-In session. “Everybody here is working very hard, and there is a good team spirit and a great commitment to win both races and championships. We've demonstrated that we are a good race team, with people working together and working very hard, including the two drivers – they are two great team members, who have helped the team to achieve the great success it has done this year.
“We've been working hard to develop the car, and it has been quicker than any other car on some occasions – but in qualifying we have comparatively struggled. A car has to be reliable and quick to win races – and we've had a car capable of doing that. You're always looking to be quicker and more reliable, but I think we are in a reasonable position. We know we've got to continue to develop the car apace if we are going to win both championships this year.
“We don't take anything for granted. Red Bull is obviously our principal challenger at the moment and they will be strong [at Hockenheim] no doubt, but experience has told me you can't write Ferrari off – they're a strong team, technically capable and with fantastic resource. They have one former world champion and another top flight driver, and Mercedes-Benz similarly have one former multiple world champion and a very good driver in Nico [Rosberg] as well. Mercedes will want to be strong at Hockenheim and will be pushing hard, and so will Ferrari – so it's too early to write either of them off.
“This is a very, very competitive season in F1. The Red Bull is clearly very quick in terms of traction out of medium and high-speed corners, particularly so in qualifying – that is their strength. I think we are gaining an understanding of that, and progressively it is our intention to overhaul them in that regard because generally we haven't qualified as well. We are working on that, because ideally we intend to be quicker than anyone in both the races and qualifying.
“Our car on heavy fuel is very balanced and competitive – which means our drivers are able to make good progress early on in races, when we've often been as quick or quicker than them (Red Bull). We have put a lot of effort into producing a car that is very quick in race conditions, but I'm sure Red Bull are looking at that as well. We've got to continue to develop our car to make it quicker, because this year's championship will be won by the team that makes the least mistakes, or probably the team that continues to develop its car at a faster rate than its principal competitor or competitors.”