Spa-francorchamps, Belgium, Aug 31, 2012 (AFP) - McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe believes Fernando Alonso's world championship lead is under threat because Ferrari do not have the quickest car.
Unlike McLaren, who have had their fair share of disappointment and bad luck already this season, Alonso and Ferrari, despite not having the fastest
car, have made the most of their opportunities and the Spaniard currently holds a 40 point lead in the drivers' title race.
However, owing to the lack of pace shown by the Italian team, Lowe believes the double champion's lead is a fragile one and expects rival teams to up the
ante during the second half of the season.
"They are certainly not the frontrunner of the four (leading) teams," said Lowe, "so that gives us cause for some encouragement.
"Of course Fernando has the points lead in the drivers' championship but, with 25 points for a win and without the quickest car, then they are exposed.
And that is the opportunity that we want to exploit."
Although seven different drivers won the opening seven races of what has been the most closely-contested season in recent history, Lowe believes that
it is only a matter of time before the top teams exert their superiority and edge clear of the rest of the field.
"I think with it being as close as it is, there are several teams who will think they are in the chance for a championship so they will be pushing to the
end," he explained.
"I suspect there will be teams who are below that threshold who will be switching far more vigorously into 2013 development.
"So I think you will see that trend where three to four teams will be stretching out a gap to the rest, and we have seen that trend before."
After a difficult run of results for the Woking-based group, a raft of upgrades saw Briton Lewis Hamilton secure victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix
before the five-week summer break.
With more upgrades in the pipeline, Lowe is confident McLaren will have one of the quickest cars and was optimistic about their chances of victory at the
remaining nine races.
He said: "We have got a great programme for aerodynamics with what we have brought so far and we will continue that for the remainder of the season.
"In the last couple of races we had one of the quickest cars and we think we are in a position to win races.
"Although we are on the backfoot points wise, we have done all the calculations and made all our own estimates - and we think that we can put ourselves in a great position to win both championships still."