McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says his team will need to cut down on mistakes to stay at the head of the race for the 2012 F1 title.

With three races complete, McLaren lead Red Bull in the constructors' championship while Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button sit first and second in the drivers' standings.

The Woking-based team hasn't had it all its own way so far this season however, with Button losing out on a strong finish in Malaysia after a clash with Narain Karthikeyan and Hamilton then being forced to fight back from a grid penalty in China to take his third straight podium of the campaign.

Despite those problems, McLaren leads the way heading to Bahrain but Whitmarsh said it was important for the team to minimise its mistakes if it wants to remain the team to beat in the title race.

"To have left China leading the constructors' championship, first and second in the drivers', is a reasonable start to the year," he told the Press Association. "That race was a great one for the fans, and I think we've a great championship on our hands here - three different winners and three very different races so far this year.

"Sadly, we're not dominating, but fortunately no one else is, so this has to be a season where you limit mistakes, you have to deliver. You also have to be able to overtake on the circuit as we saw in China. You can't just do it through strategy and pit stops."

Whitmarsh added that it was vital for drivers to take any chances that comes their way to pick up big points, with the racing so far having been any but predictable.

"You have to take your chances," he said. "It's sufficiently close where you have to deal with traffic. If you're running a strategy you can't always drop drivers into clear air having opened a gap.

"You are being forced to drop drivers into traffic, and they've got to do their job, they've got to overtake on the circuit. Look at how many cars our drivers had to overtake. It was very difficult.

"But if you can get yourself into a position where you can control the race like Nico did, then it's a big advantage."


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