McLaren-Mercedes has thrown down the gauntlet to its rivals Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, with Martin Whitmarsh asserting that the team is ready to attack the remainder of the F1 2011 campaign 'aggressively and confidently' and is 'more than ready for this fight and relishing every race'.
McLaren headed into the summer break off the back of three victories from the most recent five outings – for Jenson Button in Canada and Hungary, and Lewis Hamilton in Germany. Notwithstanding that tremendous success, however, the fact remains that on pure out-and-out pace, Adrian Newey's Red Bull RB7 is still the fastest thing in the field, and Hamilton and Button are respectively 88 and 100 points adrift of runaway world championship leader Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings, with only 200 left up for grabs.
Nonetheless, Whitmarsh has emphasised time and again that the Woking-based outfit is anything but a quitter, and as the team prepares to return to a circuit around which it has triumphed five times in its last ten appearances – Belgian Grand Prix venue Spa-Francorchamps – the Englishman makes it clear that there will be absolutely no let-up in the pursuit of title glory.
“It's exciting to be returning from the summer break and heading straight back into the fray at Spa,” he underlined. “It's one of F1's greatest circuits, and always a place where the unexpected tends to happen. As we all know from races here in the past, the weather at Spa can be notoriously fickle – and with the field so competitively-poised, that'll put great emphasis on solid and effective teamwork. A good call on tyre choice at a critical point in the race could make a massive difference to the result.
“This final stretch of European races will break the back of the calendar, so it's important that we hit them aggressively and confidently before pushing on into the 'flyaways'. The whole team has returned to work feeling refreshed, relaxed and recharged, and I'm confident that we'll see the benefit of that at the racetrack.
“Our engineers and strategists are hungry to get back to business, and our mechanics are fit and ready to continue the excellent progress they have been making all season with fast and reliable work in the garage and the pit-lane.
“Despite winning three of the last five grands prix, we are still hugely determined to be stronger than before. Time and time again, McLaren-Mercedes has proved its resilience and determination, particularly at this crucial stage of the world championship. We are more than ready for this fight and relishing every race.”