Getting two cars to the chequered flag, and winning the inaugural race at the new Circuit of the Americas, was particularly important to McLaren, according to team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

While Lewis Hamilton overcame Sebastian Vettel in absorbing battle at the front of the field, team-mate Jenson Button rose from twelfth on the grid to briefly run third before his mandatory pit-stop ensured that a top five finish was to be his limit, but both results were enough to put a smile on Whitmarsh's face after 56 laps.

"I think after that, the last few weeks that we've had, it rates right up there," he told Sky Sports, reflecting on a victory drought that stretches back to Monza and includes two Hamilton DNFs from the lead in Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

"Obviously, losing two weeks ago was deeply difficult for the team, for me and for Lewis. I think he's been brilliant all this weekend and he really had to work for this one. [It] was brilliant to catch Sebastian and overtake him - and, in fact, [Mark] Webber before that as well. For the team, we needed it. We really needed that one together."

Hamilton's 'flyaway' DNFs, as well as reliability problems for Button since the F1 series left Europe, have contributed to McLaren slipping out of constructors' championship contention - Red Bull finally clinched the crown on Sunday - and dropping behind Ferrari and Lotus in the standings. With the Enstone team already back in the rear-view mirror, however, Whitmarsh has reset his sights on the Scuderia with one round remaining, in Brazil, this coming Sunday.

"That's six wins this year and we'd like it to be seven before the season's over," he claimed, "We've faltered a little bit - we've had a quick car, [but] we haven't done as good a job as we'd expect of ourselves. I think these things are important for the team and we're now really going to go into Brazil on a high and we can do a good job there.

"We could go back and do the 'what if' again, but the fact is it happened and we've now got to go forward and really see if we can get the results we deserve. We've won one, ticked that box, and we've got to really go for it [in Brazil] - it would be great to really finish on a high there."

Just 14 points separate McLaren from second place in the constructors' standings, with a maximum of 43 on offer at Interlagos this weekend, but Button's qualifying woe - and suspected KERS issues late in the race - meant that both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa finished ahead of him in the USA, so it won't necessarily be an easy gap to close.