Formula 1 News

Monza Preview: McLaren out to maintain revival

Both 2008 champion Hamilton and his 2009 successor and fellow-Briton Button enjoyed dominant weekends, taking pole position and then winning in supreme style at the Hungarian and Belgian races.
Thursday, September 6, 2012

Monza, Italy, Sept 6, 2012 (AFP / Tim Collings) - After two successive wins for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, the revived McLaren team will arrive in Monza confident they can brush aside internal tensions and continue their much-improved form in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

Both 2008 champion Hamilton and his 2009 successor and fellow-Briton Button enjoyed dominant weekends, taking pole position and then winning in supreme style at the Hungarian and Belgian races.

Their combination of speed and all-round competitive performance left their rivals chasing shadows and should, according to technical director Paddy Lowe, continue on the high-speed classic circuit in the former royal park half an hour north of Milan.

"Jenson's set up in Belgium was not far off what we could run at Monza, so it is encouraging that the package worked so well -- and a lot of the elements that we used there will carry over," he said.

"We were quick in Belgium and also in Hungary, which is a very specific circuit. We have seen such a lot of variability this year, so it makes us really think that we have strong underlying pace that we can translate in the next eight races."

Lowe's optimism supported that of team chief Martin Whitmarsh who claimed that by becoming the first outfit this year to win successive races, McLaren have demonstrated that both of their drivers could yet mount a bid for the title.

"Jenson certainly has performed well in the last few races, exceptionally well in Belgium," said Whitmarsh. "There is no reason why he can't be on a massive roll and score lots of points and lots of victories in the remainder of this season.

"Likewise Lewis can as well. Our job is to give them the best possible car, make sure we don't make mistakes, do some good pit stops, and run the right strategy.

"I think we did all of those things right in Belgium and therefore they went unnoticed. There are lots of points at stake. It has been a fairly interesting topsy-turvy season so I think anything is possible at the moment.

"Lots of things can happen and we are going to have an exciting final eight races."

Both men ignored the problems that rivalry between Button and Hamilton could create in the team, notably after last weekend's badly-misjudged 'Tweets' from Hamilton that had to be removed because they revealed secret telemetry information.

One rival team member said the information they gained from Hamilton's decision to post pictures of the McLaren drivers' qualifying overlays and information about their set-ups was "gold dust."

Button was, he said, "surprised and disappointed" at the incident and added: "We work so hard to improve the car and to keep things like that private."

His reaction hinted that relations between the pair could be improved, but that is unlikely at Monza where Hamilton needs to win, on Ferrari's home soil, to cut into championship leader Fernando Alonso's advantage.

Ferrari are certain to be formidable opponents, too, as they battle to stay on top while Red Bull, with both defending champion German Sebastian Vettel, winner last year and his maiden triumph in 2008, and team-mate Mark Webber in the title chase, have shown signs of a revival.

All of this points to a competitive and dramatic weekend in the final European round of the season before the F1 circus flies to Singapore to begin the final seven races of the season.

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