Dennis: reliability key to beating Ferrari

McLaren boss Ron Dennis says that enhanced reliability - not improved strategy - is the key to beating Ferrari next year

Dennis: reliability key to beating Ferrari

Ferrari clinched a drivers' and constructors' title double this season, leaving McLaren as runner-up in each, but speaking in this week's Autosport magazine, Dennis said: "All we need is enhanced reliability. But we also realise that the points differential between the top two teams and the balance of the field shows just how reliable Ferrari and ourselves are - we had three [engine] failures out of two cars starting 17 races, which isn't bad. But it is not good enough."

McLaren's three engine failures included a double DNF caused by pneumatic valve problems in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. That was immediately followed by another failure for title runner-up Mika Hakkinen in Brazil, with a third failure at the United States GP effectively ending the Finn's bid for a title hat-trick.

In contrast, Ferrari's only engine failure out of four mechanical-related DNFs came for Michael Schumacher at the French GP.

Hakkinen's team mate David Coulthard has recently cited poor strategy calls as a key weakness to be addressed by the team, but Dennis believes otherwise.

"I don't think that is the case," he said. "It is rare that our strategy is wrong and, as always, when we win races it is never attributed to our strategy, while when we lose races it is always attributed to a lack of strategy. That is ridiculous.

"The simple fact is that part of strategy is second-guessing and having the ability to separate the benefit of hindsight from the facts. By and large, our post-race analysis shows the strategies we have adopted are right."

Ferrari and its technical director Ross Brawn are renowned for their tactical flexibility during races, but Coulthard hinted after the Malaysian GP that changes will be made at McLaren to match the Italian team's perceived strength in that department.

"There are going to be changes in the set-up next year, which I believe will really strengthen the way the team works," said the Scot. "It will become obvious at the beginning of next year what changes are going to be made, but I really think it's going to increase McLaren's ability to make strong calls and not make mistakes in that area."

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