McLaren-Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh has warned F1 observers and the Woking-based outfit's rivals Red Bull Racing and Ferrari that it would be 'unwise' in the extreme to count Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button out of the title fight despite their currently compromised positions – as he backed the all-British duo to 'deliver under pressure'.
Heading into this weekend's inaugural Korean Grand Prix – the first of the final three outings of what remains a nail-biting campaign – Hamilton sits 28 points in arrears of world championship leader Mark Webber, with Button three further behind.
There has been only one McLaren victory since June – Hamilton's sublime Belgian Grand Prix triumph at Spa-Francorchamps – and in three of the last five races, the 2008 title-winner has failed to see the chequered flag at all, whilst Button has taken just a single podium from his most recent seven starts.
Worse still, on the basis of Singapore and Suzuka, it would appear that the MP4-25 now lags behind both Red Bull's RB6 and Ferrari's F10 in the out-and-out performance stakes, leading many to forecast a three-way tussle for glory between Webber, RBR team-mate Sebastian Vettel and the Scuderia's
Fernando Alonso. Not so fast, Whitmarsh cautions.
“With three races remaining, and 75 points on the table for the drivers, it would be unwise to write off Jenson, Lewis or McLaren-Mercedes,” the Englishman urged. “Both drivers have won world championships before – they understand the difficulties of such a unique situation, and both have learned how to deliver their best under high pressure. They will be ready for this battle.
“It's a battle that will doubtless be won by consistency. While we will continue with our aggressive development strategy, bringing further new components to this race, we're mindful of the need to bag points at every race. We are committed to winning, and won't give up without a fight.”