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Haug admits Ferrari are favourites

Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug admits that rivals Ferrari are heading to next weekend's Turkish Grand Prix as favourites for victory, as he predicts what could be a 'challenging' time for McLaren

Ferrari have won at Istanbul for the last two years and Haug is well aware that McLaren could be in for a difficult time as they bid to overhaul their rivals.

"We didn't really shine here in the past, and also this time we are not the current benchmark," said Haug. "The team wants to score as many points as possible, but after three consecutive wins Ferrari obviously arrive here as the favourites."

Although Haug is confident McLaren can make the steps they need to take the championship fight to Ferrari, he does not think the team are in a strong enough position yet - despite some encouraging speed in Barcelona last weekend.

"Barcelona as the first Grand Prix of the European season and, with its challenging track layout, is definitely a yardstick for the following races," explained Haug. "In qualifying, we missed pole position by less than three tenths of a second; however, we carried a little more fuel and therefore more weight.

"Anyway, even with the same fuel load we wouldn't have been fast enough to beat Ferrari. Since winning the season opener in Melbourne, our car has improved gradually and has become significantly faster.

"Unfortunately, we didn't score all possible points, neither in Melbourne, Malaysia, Bahrain or Barcelona, mostly due to self-induced mistakes and this is the reason for the gap to the top of the rankings, after Ferrari had scored only one point in Melbourne. Our aim is to improve further over the next few races, however it is possible the Turkish Grand Prix might be a challenging race for the team."

Lewis Hamilton thinks qualifying will be crucial in Turkey, and he admits McLaren need to get their MP4-23 much quicker in slower sections of tracks.

"Given the challenging nature of the circuit, we have come away from Barcelona with some confidence for the high speed corners, but we also come away knowing that we have areas where we need to strengthen the car," said the Briton.

"The tighter, more twisty parts of the Circuit de Catalunya were certainly our Achilles heel during the race weekend, and there has been a lot of analysis and study of that as we endeavour to strengthen our car in that area."

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