McLaren-Mercedes have vowed to raise their game ahead of engine partner Mercedes' home race at the N?rburgring in a fortnight's time, on the back of two demonstration runs by arch-rivals Ferrari in as many weekends.

A brace of costly errors - most notably a mistake during his first pit-stop when he almost set off while the car was still being refuelled - hampered crowds' favourite Lewis Hamilton's chances on Sunday, but even allowing for that neither he nor reigning double world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso truly had a car underneath them with which to challenge Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. McLaren are well aware they need to fight back with a vengeance in Germany, and hope a pre-race test at Spa-Francorchamps this week will set them on the right track once more.

"We've got new aerodynamic components and various other parts we are putting on the car," chief operating officer Martin Whitmarsh told Reuters. "We will come out of that test with a quicker car, but Ferrari will undoubtedly improve their car too, so it will be down to who improves their car the most in the next fortnight.

"We've now had nine races and 16 times we've had a car on the podium. I predict we are going to see the fortunes swing either way in what's going to be a classic and exciting championship. It is so tight now in performance and reliability that if any of us trip up it would be very significant. If just one of your cars doesn't score points, the pendulum will swing very quickly."

Whitmarsh was, however, full of praise for Hamilton, who has enjoyed an unprecedented start to his Formula 1 career and seems to be getting better by the race.

"By any extraordinary measure, he's done a fantastic job," the Briton enthused. "It's extraordinary Lewis feels [he needs to raise his game - see seperate story], but that's one of his great strengths and he knows the team's working very hard.

"We all have to raise our game. Winning world championships these days is tougher than it's ever been, and we've got to produce a quicker car at every successive race."

 

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