His drivers may have all but given up on winning the 2011 F1 world championship, but McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh insists that there is still a lot to play for this season, particularly with the MP4-26 appearing to improve with every race.

Speaking in the wake of seeing championship frontrunner Red Bull Racing take a 1-2 finish at Spa-Francorchamps, a circuit that was not supposed to suit the RB7 chassis, Whitmarsh admitted that McLaren had made it easier for its rival by committing errors not only in both qualifying and the race in Belgium, but throughout the year. However, he maintained the belief that his squad still had the potential to win again between now and the end of the campaign in Brazil.

"We had a competitive car in Spa, and I hope and believe we will keep working and have that for the next seven races, so there are seven more races to win," he told Press Association journalists, "We should have been the ones who should have taken the battle to them, but we had our problems that made it a little too easy for them.

"I say too easy, but they are doing a good job. They are proving difficult to beat. Before Spa, they had won one race in the last five, but they keep stacking up the points and doing a good job. That is what you have to do if you are going to win a championship."

McLaren and Ferrari were, according to the experts, supposed to have the upper hand on Red Bull in Belgium, where the flat-out first and third sectors should not have played to the RB7's strengths, and the next round, in Italy, should underline the difference between the cars even more - even if Whitmarsh remains cagey about forecasting an outcome.

"If we look at the next race in Italy, Monza is very different as it requires very low downforce, and so is difficult to predict," he noted, "But there's no reason why we can't be competitive there. Then there are some more typical tracks after that where I hope we can win races."

Asked whether, in light of Red Bull's surprising Spa form, he was calling on higher powers to help McLaren achieve success, Whitmarsh maintained that he was a little more down to earth in his approach.

"I don't do too much of that myself," he revealed, "I try and work on making the car quicker, minimising mistakes, racing well and encouraging the drivers to be good and try and win the next races. Generally that's what we've done in this team. I'm sure there are other persuasions in the paddock who have different gods they might want to pray to, but I don't do that."