McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says the team has been forced to take more risks than normal with its car so far this season in an attempt to keep pace with Red Bull in the title race.
Having endured a difficult pre-season ahead of the opening round of the campaign in Australia, McLaren was forced into a series of last minute changes in an effort to be competitive from the outset and has then been forced to push hard to produce upgrades in order to try and close the gap to the championship leaders.
Speaking in an interview with the official F1 website, Neale admitted that the Woking-based team had been forced to push both on and off track in an effort to bring the gap to Red Bull down, with results in recent races showing the hard work is currently being rewarded.
“I think when you are coming from behind the Red Bulls, you have to take risks,” he said, “and we have taken risks with the car and we've taken risks with the driving. The drivers are passionate about winning and push so hard that you can easily get to a situation where you overdrive and then mistakes creep in. When we managed to get some performance into the car the drivers started to relax a bit. They know that they have a competitive package underneath them and I think the whole system started to breathe a bit more easily because of that. Well as much as you ever breathe easily in this environment!
“We've taken more risks. Some we got away with, and some of them we haven't. But Formula One is not a business or a sport where you can sit back because everybody else is trying so hard. The moment you hesitate then you know that you will go backwards relative to the competition. And that's not why we're here.”
Neale added that the team would continue to push hard to keep the title fight alive after the summer break comes to an end, and said that even if the situation arises where the championship is out of reach, McLaren would continue to work just as hard.
“First of all, we like to win races and have a huge appetite to win many more races this year,” he said. “Mathematically, the titles are still possible and we will keep on fighting. But even if it wasn't still possible, we wouldn't back off. We've won four races so far this season and two races in a row, so I believe that we can do well this season. We certainly will not sit back. Of course at some point we will have to take a look at the balance of resources for next year, but I cannot imagine myself and Martin looking at each other and thinking 'should we just lift now and stop'. I cannot imagine that - so we won't!”
Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have both taken two victories this season for the team.