F1 »

Double or quits decision for McLaren.

The McLaren team has admitted that it will find itself caught between two stools at next weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, determined to take the safe route towards delivering Lewis Hamilton a maiden world title, but equally keen to do all it can to overturn Ferrari's advantage in the constructors' championship.

With back-to-back retirements for Heikki Kovalainen in Japan and China, accompanied by Hamilton's non-score at Fuji, McLaren has allowed the Scuderia to extend an eleven-point cushion in the teams' competition, and CEO Martin Whitmarsh admits that it now faces something of a dilemma at Interlagos.

Hamilton needs only to finish fifth or better to take the world title he came so close to landing in his rookie campaign in 2007, and Whitmarsh admits that McLaren will be trying to curb the Briton's natural instincts to try and win from the front. However, he also concedes that doing 'just enough' to land the individual crown could have an adverse effect on its attempts to beat Ferrari on both fronts.

"Clearly, we can afford to be more conservative than normal in our approach to Lewis' race, but we are still pushing to win the constructors' championship and it would be wrong of us as a team to overlook this fact," Whitmarsh acknowledged, "There are 18 points available in Brazil and there's no reason why we can't take forward the pace and form we showed in China to achieve a one-two in Brazil.

"As a result, we do have a number of minor aerodynamic upgrades in the pipeline that we are evaluating for inclusion on our Brazil-spec car. As with every race this season, we have brought something to the car - even if it has only been generating a few extra hundredths of lap time - and it would be wrong of us to close down that option for Interlagos."

Kovalainen's problems - an engine failure in Japan and badly fading brakes in China - underline the harsh reality that Hamilton's dreams could so easily be derailed by unreliability. Although the MP4-23 has proven to be more robust than its counterpart from Maranello this season, that was also generally accepted in 2007, only for Hamilton to suffer a 'gearbox glitch' at Interlagos that opened that door for Kimi Raikkonen to complete a comeback from 17 points behind with two rounds to go.

Without being complacent, Whitmarsh insists that McLaren is confident that both of its cars will be prepared to their usual high standards in an effort to prevent a repeat of last year's disappointment.

"Of course, we are keenly aware that the world championship could be won or lost by a mechanical failure," he accepted, "As a result, we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to minimise this possibility. For example, that meant consciously turning down Lewis's engine on the run to the flag in China in order to give him plenty of engine life for Brazil."

While both Ferraris will be fitted with fresh engines for Interlagos, the regulations do not allow Hamilton - who has enjoyed solid Mercedes-Benz reliability this year - to play his 'joker' in Brazil, which means he will be subjected to the usual ten-place grid penalty if his motor fails after Friday practice.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4-23, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-23, Hungarian F1, Hungaroring, 1st-3rd, August, 2008
French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard
Lando Norris, McLaren Autosport BRDC Awards [Credit: Martyn Pass PR]
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


Sasha - Unregistered

October 22, 2008 10:20 AM

You cannot use your joker engine for the last race. This was already known at the first race so no FIA conspiracy. About taking a penalty for an engine change... You really do not want to be midpack in the first 5 corners after the start of Interlagos.

Andy3E - Unregistered

October 22, 2008 2:19 PM

What's to say that if they DID change the engine there might be some unknown gremlin hidden away which could make that one go? they know this engine is relatively sound, and they've had superb reliability, id say leave the engine be



© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.