Martin Whitmarsh has vowed that McLaren-Mercedes' one-two finish in last year's Turkish Grand Prix – as well as Lewis Hamilton's superb Chinese Grand Prix triumph in Shanghai just under a fortnight ago – will spur the team on in its pursuit of a repeat performance in Istanbul twelve months on.
It was arguably the pressure that Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button were applying that drove Sebastian Vettel to launch the desperate overtaking move on Mark Webber midway through the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix that removed both Red Bull Racing men from the fight for victory and gifted McLaren a dream result.
Team principal Whitmarsh reflects that the Woking-based outfit will be able to draw upon that inspiration as it looks ahead to Istanbul 2011 – as well as the knowledge that bit-by-bit, it is inching up on early-season pace-setters Red Bull and closing in for the kill.
“Winning in China was a fantastic reward for all the hard effort that's been undertaken both at the racetrack and the McLaren Technology Centre to turn the MP4-26 into a race-winner,” the Englishman underlined. “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.
“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 to Turkey determined to ensure our upgrades deliver practical gains and are able to confer a useful margin to both drivers. Our one-two finish there last year was one of our most exciting races – and the memory of that result will doubtless spur on the whole team next weekend.”