x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

McLaren optimistic after a difficult race in Bahrain

McLaren has a difficult day at the office but Martin Whitmarsh is happy with the team stands in the championship chase and looking forward to Barcelona.

It was a tough day at the office for Jenson Button, left, and his McLaren-Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.
It was a tough day at the office for Jenson Button, left, and his McLaren-Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.

SAKHIR // As darkness fell on the paddock at Bahrain International Circuit Sunday night, the focus of the Formula One fraternity switched from Bahrain to Barcelona.

Before the Spanish Grand Prix on May 13, the teams will travel to Mugello in Italy for a week of testing and developing. With four different winning teams from the first four races, every marque knows the development race is just as crucial as the next official race on the calendar.

McLaren-Mercedes endured a torrid day at the office with Lewis Hamilton, having started on the front row at the Bahrain Grand Prix, finishing eighth and teammate Jenson Button retiring near the end after suffering a puncture.

"There are good times and bad times in motor racing; I guess this was just one of those days," was Hamilton's conclusion, adding the team must improve the pace of the car and their pit stops before arriving at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Button called it a "pretty difficult weekend", but Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal, proved a figure of more optimism as he noted that McLaren sit only nine points off the lead in the constructors' championship and Hamilton trails Sunday's winner Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standing by a mere four points.

"From here we travel to Barcelona, on which circuit we performed strongly in pre-season testing," Whitmarsh said. "Lewis and Jenson are as resilient as they are competitive, so you can be well sure that in Spain they'll both do their utmost to score as many points as possible in an effort to put us back at the top of both the drivers' and the constructors' world championship standings."

Ferrari, even with Fernando Alonso's surprise victory in the Malaysian rain, are aware rapid improvement is essential if they wish to remain in the hunt for success this season.

The Italian manufacturers claimed only eight points in Bahrain to take their total to 45 points after four races. Leaders Red Bull Racing have 101.

"Now we must look to the future and make a step up in terms of quality which should allow us to fight for the podium and not just a points finish," said Stefano Domenicali, the team principal.

"That's what I have been asking our engineers for several weeks and by Barcelona, I expect to already see the results of the effort we are expending in every area."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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