McLaren adamant they will catch Ferrari

McLaren are upbeat about their chances of beating Ferrari this season, despite Kimi Raikkonen's complete dominance of the Australian Grand Prix

McLaren adamant they will catch Ferrari

Raikkonen was unchallenged throughout the race in Melbourne and, more worryingly, his fastest race lap was more than one second faster than Fernando Alonso's.

That sort of pace has prompted suggestions that Ferrari could enjoy a level of dominance similar to that they had in 2004 - when Michael Schumacher walked away with the world championship.

But McLaren's F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh is optimistic that his team can close the current gap, and insists that they are fully up for the challenge that lies ahead.

"The feeling in the team is massively positive at the moment," said Whitmarsh. "There is a feeling we have got a good momentum and we are going forward. And during the course of this year we will be aiming to improve a tenth to two tenths a race weekend. That is a big challenge.

"For the next few races we can see those performance benefits coming through, but Ferrari are a strong and capable organisation and they are not going to stand still and wait for us. So we have got to work harder and we have got to gain performance quicker than they can.

"We enjoy that challenge and over the years we have become battle hardened - and so have Ferrari. We will graft away during the year.

"I believe the spirit, momentum and motivation in the organisation is higher than it has been for many years. We will be there fighting for both championships this season."

Whitmarsh said he did not know how long it would take for McLaren to close the gap to Ferrari, although the evidence from Melbourne suggests that a few tenths could be enough to get them in front of their Italian rivals in terms of pure qualifying pace by the next race.

"We are going to improve our car one tenth to two tenths every single race weekend, and that is now the race that is on," he explained. "If Ferrari respond and they can improve at the same rate or quicker than us, then we will find it tough. If they cannot, we will overhaul them. And that is the challenge.

"They are a strong, competent team and that is why we are in F1 - that is why we enjoy that challenge, that chase, and we will be pushing hard this year."

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