McLaren target Silverstone for next big push

Last Updated: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 15:48 hrs

London: Battle-hardened Formula One leaders McLaren have targeted their home British Grand Prix on July 11 for the next big push after reeling off a second one-two finish in a row in Canada on Sunday.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh, whose champion drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have won four of the eight races so far, said the pace of development was key to the battle with Red Bull and Ferrari.

"We have been through a lot of world championship fights and we have probably got a bit more experience in our team than Red Bull -- but we don't underestimate them," he told reporters in Montreal.

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"They are going to come back strongly and we have to make sure that we continue to develop the car... if we don't develop the car at a quick-enough pace, then we will not win races and we will not win this championship."

Whitmarsh, whose team are the second most successful in Formula One, said McLaren aimed to find up to a quarter of a second in improvement at every race.

"We won't stand still. We have a reasonably big upgrade that we are fighting to have for Silverstone, and if that is there then I would be disappointed if it is not a much bigger step than that," he added.

Hamilton, the 2008 champion who has now won the last two races and leads the championship by three points from Button, won at Silverstone two years ago and will fancy his chances of repeating the feat in front of their fans.

The younger of the two Britons said at the weekend that Red Bull might still be ahead at high-downforce circuits but the gap was clearly narrowing.

"The guys back at the factory are doing a phenomenal job, so I have no doubts that we can close that gap and again pull ahead," said the 25-year-old.

"But clearly on the race weekends we are doing a better job, both of us and the team, so hopefully we can continue with that."

Spain's Valencia circuit, which hosts the European Grand Prix, is next up and McLaren will again be the favourites there even if it is a home race for Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"I think Valencia plays to McLaren's strengths again, there's a predominance of straight line advantage there," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told the BBC after Sunday's race in Montreal.

"Then we come back more to our hunting ground, the likes of Silverstone, Hockenheim, Hungary. They are going to be tracks that play more to our advantage.

"I think there is a long way to go in the championship, it's going to ebb and flow and it's important that on days like today we limit the damage as much as possible."

Red Bull won at Silverstone with Sebastian Vettel last year but the German finished only fourth on Sunday, ahead of Australian team mate Mark Webber in a race dictated by tyre degradation.

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McLaren increased their lead in the constructors' championship over Red Bull to 22 points while Hamilton also ousted Webber from the top of the drivers' standings -- becoming the fifth different leader this year.

"We have to take it one race at a time," said Whitmarsh.

"We have to go to Valencia and try to capitalise on the form we have at the moment with the type of the circuit that Valencia is, and then make sure that we secure a decent step forward at Silverstone that helps us maintain the pace.

"If we don't, if we fail to develop the car, we will get overhauled and beaten by more than just Red Bull."

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