Team principal Martin Whitmarsh has vowed that McLaren won't ease up through the remainder of the F1 seasond despite that fact that any hopes of championship success are now all but over.
Sebastian Vettel needs to just one more point to end Jenson Button's hopes of winning the drivers' title while Red Bull also hold a healthy lead in the constructors' championship.
Despite that, Whitmarsh vowed that McLaren will do all it can to prevent the excitement tailing off through the remainder of the season, with the team set to use the rest of the season to testing development parts on the MP4-26 which can be carried over to its 2012 machine.
“Taking the long journey to Suzuka always reinforces the notion that we're headed into the closing stages of the season,” he said. “While there remains a mathematical, albeit slim, chance of Jenson securing the world championship, we realistically go into these last races with an undimmed resolution to win, and to ensure the world championship remains interesting, exciting and unpredictable for as long as possible!
“To that end, we're still pushing ahead with the development of key areas of the MP4-26 – in particular, we're focusing on areas where there will be significant carry-over of performance and learning into 2012. With the 26, the key areas of overlap development are the front and rear wings: any downforce we find this year can be carried over to the MP4-27.
“Encouragingly, we were able to successfully track-test our latest iteration of rear wing in Singapore, it proving sufficiently positive during Friday practice that it was deployed on both cars for the remainder of the race weekend. While there will be an inevitable shift of focus and deployment towards the new car, we still have enough momentum within the development system to ensure that we'll still be introducing new parts through until the last few races of the season.”
As with both McLaren drivers, Whitmarsh added that the team was keen to support the Japanese public on what will be the first race at Suzuka following March's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
“McLaren has plenty of history in Japan,” he said. “We've witnessed some incredible and unpredictable scenes involving our cars and drivers at both Suzuka and Fuji down the years – and, as a team, we're all particularly proud to be going to Japan this year to play a sporting role in the redevelopment of a country that has endured terrible hardships and deprivation in 2011.
“It goes without saying that we will all be racing with the people of Japan in our hearts and minds next weekend.”