LONDON, United Kingdom, Aug 24, 2012 (AFP) - McLaren believe they must conquer their set up issues and make the most of the remaining nine races if
they want to stay in the running for this year's world championships.
Despite a decent start to the season and showing some strong race pace, acombination of car setup and tyre issues together with small, costly errors and a string of poor pit stops, have meant the British outfit have not been as consistent as their rivals and in turn have lost vital ground in both title races.
Although Lewis Hamilton boosted the team's spirits with a win at the Hungarian Grand Prix before the summer break, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh
admitted the team must make more of their opportunities if they want to challenge frontrunners Ferrari and Red Bull for this year's world titles.
"In the first 11 races we were on the front row eight times, so the car is not slow in qualifying at least," said Whitmarsh ahead of next weekend's
Belgian Grand Prix.
"But this season has been difficult for everyone - and you would have to say Fernando and Ferrari have done a great job: one in terms of development
and two in terms of getting the best out of the package - and we haven't got the best out of our package."
Whitmarsh admitted that as long as the team avoid making more mistakes, getting to grips with Pirelli's new-for-2012 tyres could be the key to
"The tyres have been a real challenge," he said.
"There are a number of parallel paths that you now have to tread, and one is that whatever else is going on, you have to make the car quicker.
"We have been working hard on that and made a bit of progress, but you have to avoid mistakes as well. We have made a few mistakes, and you have to
eliminate them, but we have made a bit of progress there.
"This year in particular you have got to get the tyres into the sweet spot, and we have made some progress, but just as you try and get on top of the dry
tyres then the challenge of intermediates and wets starts."
Thanks to his win in Budapest almost four weeks ago, 2008 champion Hamilton now lies fourth in the drivers' standings, 47 points adrift of championship
leader Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari while his McLaren team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button is seventh.
And although McLaren are 52 points behind leaders Red Bull in the drivers' standings, Whitmarsh is convinced McLaren are still in the running.
"We are learning, we are improving the car - but none of it happens as quick as we would like," he said.
"However, I think we are on more solid foundations and we are making some progress. There are lots of points up for grabs, and that is what we have to
keep reminding ourselves.
"But we must not get obsessed by that; we must be obsessed by doing everything we can at each grand prix to have the quickest car, to not make
mistakes, to ensure that we get as good an understanding of the tyres as we can, set the car up as well as we can, execute a good qualifying and then
deliver a good race."