McLaren racing director Eric Boullier wants the team to consolidate its lead in the constructors' championship at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.
An impressive start to the season saw Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button finish second and third respectively in Melbourne following Daniel Ricciardo's exclusion, leaving McLaren eight points clear of Mercedes in the constructors' standings. While Nico Rosberg won comfortably, one thing McLaren was able to boast over Mercedes was reliability as Lewis Hamilton retired, and Boullier has challenged the team to improve the pace of the MP4-29 but ensure both cars remain reliable.
“The fact that we are leading the constructors' championship is a testament to the underlying strength and hunger of the organisation,” Boullier said. “In Melbourne, we didn't have the strongest car, but we were able to manage the race superbly: we executed perfect strategies on both cars, Jenson and Kevin each drove faultlessly, and our engineers and mechanics made sure our cars operated with only minimal problems across the whole weekend.
“The aim for Malaysia will be to consolidate the position we currently have: we need to close the gap to the front, and we'll be pushing aggressively on the development front to ensure that the upgrades we bring to this race do just that. But speed counts for nothing without reliability, and our focus will be to ensure we stay on top of things to ensure we operate both cars across the weekend without any problems.”
Boullier also sees the development race as crucial to McLaren's title hopes, hinting that the gap to Mercedes is not too big to overturn.
“Equally, back at MTC, we're pushing hard to ensure that the supply chain from factory to track is further refined: ours is a battle of constant development; and while we've seen one team emerge at the front, it'll be the constant, iterative developments that will upset the order.
“We've got some productive programmes in the windtunnel, and our aim now is to turn these projects to reality as soon as we possibly can – this is where the championship fight will be won or lost.”