McLaren Aim for Aggressive Improvements

McLaren say they will take aggressive steps to raise their game by next month's Spanish Grand Prix

McLaren Aim for Aggressive Improvements

The Mercedes-powered Formula One team have a potential winner in their new MP4-20 car, recognised as one of the most aerodynamically efficient and quickest in the pitlane, but have so far failed to make the most of it.

"There are some areas where the car is very strong," said team boss Ron Dennis in Bahrain at the weekend. "On a lap, the car is capable of being either the quickest or certainly in the top four.

McLaren, who struggled with exploding engines last year, have finished every race with both cars so far despite engines now having to last for two races in a row. Dennis said Mercedes were working to get even more performance.

"We know where our baseline is and wherever we are in comparison to other people we will take aggressive steps now and probably most of the work we are doing should materialise in Spain," he said.

"That's where we hope to take a step forward."

The Spanish Grand Prix, fifth round of the season, is on May 8 after San Marino on April 24.

"The car is extremely gentle on its tyres, which means that we can either go down - it's too simplistic to say softer - and exploit that or we can actually develop the car to put more energy into the tyres," said Dennis. "We're going down both paths."

Tyre regulations have changed this year, forcing teams to use the same set for qualifying and the race distance.

A car that is kind to its tyres should be well placed in the closing stages of a race when other drivers are wrestling with poor grip and more likely to make mistakes.

In Bahrain, Spanish stand-in Pedro de la Rosa set the fastest lap of the race on lap 43, finishing fifth, while Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen was third. However, Raikkonen, also fastest during the race in Malaysia, qualified only ninth while de la Rosa was eighth, raising doubts about the car's ability to get heat into the tyres quickly.

"We seem to have some difficulties in qualifying," said Raikkonen. "We just don't get the speed out of it (the car) but in race conditions it seems to be okay.

"We need to do something to be on the front row or close to the front row and then we can win a race, but when we start from eighth or ninth place that is too far away."

Dennis said Michelin could not be faulted.

"What is extremely good about Michelin is that they are more than prepared to develop tyres for specific teams. That has positives and negatives," he said.

"When you find yourself with a problem the first thing you can't eliminate out of the problem is the fact that you might be on unique tyres. Generally the tyres are being extremely good, very consistent and extremely durable."

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