New Delhi: McLaren are predicting no let-up in the intensity of the 2012 development race over the final four races, thanks to the closeness of the competition between the top teams and the fact that any performance gains can almost certainly be utilised next season.
“It’s not a big a decision to decide to continuing developing the 2012 car,” said sporting director Sam Michael in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “The rule changes for next year are quite small compared to what they would be in normal years, so most of the development work we do on this car will carry over to 2013 anyway. We’re going to push to the end.”
While Red Bull have won the last three Grands Prix, McLaren dropped to third in the standings at the last round in Korea, where an accident for Jenson Button and car issues for Lewis Hamilton meant the team scored just one point. However, with even minor developments having the potential to change the competitive order, Michael is convinced they can take the fight to the defending champions over 2012’s closing rounds.
“Basically if you’re not bringing typically 0.1s, 0.15s on average to every Grand Prix you’re not going to stay competitive,” he explained. “And anything you bring above that on average you should start pulling away, or making up ground on your main competitors.
“The thing is the gaps are very small now and it only takes one or two-tenths to swing things from one way to another. That can be driven off a development of theirs working, or another team not bringing enough. It’s great for everyone watching Grand Prix racing, but it makes our life very difficult. But we believe we can pose a challenge to them in the last four races.”
McLaren have 284 points heading into this weekend’s 2012 Formula 1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix, six short of Ferrari and 73 behind leaders Red Bull. Hamilton is fourth in the driver standings on 153 points, 62 adrift of leader Sebastian Vettel, with Button a further 22 points adrift in sixth.