“Clearly we have to go and look back at how we need to improve, but we do that every year – McLaren going back to the sixties has been a successful team, and it will continue to be a successful team. We are not complacent. We are in there fighting Ferrari for second place in the constructors' standings, and we will treat [Abu Dhabi] as we do any other race – we are fighters and we aim to win it.”
Indeed, focussing now on the finale, the Englishman forecasts a Middle Eastern thriller, although he eschews the opportunity to offer his opinion on who he would like to see prevail should Hamilton not be able to – after the 14-time grand prix-winner revealed earlier this week that if he cannot emerge on top, then his preference would be for Mark Webber to do so [see separate story – click here
], whilst Button cast doubt upon how well an Alonso success story would be received in the wake of the now infamous Hockenheim team orders row [see separate story – click here
“I think it's great for F1 that it all goes down to the last race again,” Neale affirmed. “I think Sebastian had a very strong first half of the year, and Mark has really dug in from Silverstone onwards and has done a great job. Ferrari have come on strong with their car and Fernando has hustled everybody. I think the drivers in contention would all be worthy winners, and I'm looking forward to Abu Dhabi.”
“I wasn't that surprised by what Red Bull did in Brazil [in not switching Vettel and Webber around]. They've obviously had their challenges during the year, and when you've got a very competitive car and two good drivers it's very difficult – it's a delicate balance, and one that it's very easy to get wrong. The media are constantly waiting for you to slip or trip up or something, because it makes great news – but the drivers know what's at stake and they will sort it out on the circuit.
“Red Bull and Ferrari will be trying to bring last-minute upgrades, as will we. It should be a conventional race weather-wise, but I think reliability will play a big part, because it's getting to the end of the season and people are taking risks. I think it's going to be a really tough race – and it's going to be close.”