Force India pace a spur for McLaren
|By Jonathan Noble||Thursday, September 3rd 2009, 10:24 GMT|
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says Force India's stunning performance in the Belgian Grand Prix has delivered his outfit a 'kick up the pants' that it needs to do a better job.
Giancarlo Fisichella caused a major upset at Spa-Francorchamps when he claimed Force India's maiden pole position, before finishing a strong second place behind Kimi Raikkonen.
With McLaren having struggled for pace throughout the Belgian weekend, Whitmarsh believes that the comparison between the teams shows how his outfit should have done better - especially because Force India is a technical partner.
"They were quick all the way through Spa, they caught us out and they have given us a kick up the pants," said Whitmarsh. "We don't necessarily enjoy being kicked up the pants, but it is good for the sport.
"The efforts and the sporting success is great, it is overdue and I am sure it is the sort of thing that will encourage Vijay [Mallya, team owner] and the sponsors of that team and the supporters of that team to believe that it is possible.
"They may slip back at the next race, but there is the hope and expectation that they can do this – and that it is a motivational thing. For the media, for the fans who are reading this story – it is fantastic. It is great.
"They have given us a kick up the pants, and we have got to look at what we do and make sure we are ahead of them in the future."
Whitmarsh believes that Force India's pace in Belgium owned much to the level of downforce that the team ran with – with the VJM02's low-drag characteristics having paid dividends in the fast first and second sectors of the Spa lap.
"They have a good engine – the same one as us – and they have a good gearbox which is the same as us," explained Whitmarsh. "But they have been working hard on the car.
"They ran a lower level of downforce than we did, and inevitably you wonder if we could have pushed hard and run at a lower level.
"But they have put a huge amount of effort in to get where they are. They work almost as hard as we do, I am sure, and they deserve it. I personally think it is great."