McLaren determined to eliminate errors

McLaren needs to stop squandering chances and make sure it maximises its potential in every race if it is to stop Red Bull escaping in the world championship, says the Woking squad's managing director Jonathan Neale

McLaren determined to eliminate errors

Having moved to the top of the standings with its Shanghai one-two, McLaren then lost points with Lewis Hamilton's wheel problem and consequent tyre deflation in Spain, and Jenson Button was forced out of the Monaco Grand Prix with overheating caused by a cover being accidentally left on a sidepod.

Neale believes Red Bull's current speed advantage will be shortlived, so reckons the onus is on McLaren to stay in touch in the points while it closes the pace gap.

"Formula 1 is not at all tolerant and nor should it be," said Neale during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.

"We came out of China on a high and then we have dropped points in the last two races and when it is as tight as it is in the championship and there is only a small gap at the top of the drivers' championship table and also the constructors', it is all still to be played for.

"At the moment Red Bull has the upper hand but I am confident that won't be the case by the middle of the season. When it is this close you just can't afford to make those kind of mistakes - so we need to eliminate those from our game like everybody else does.

"Red Bull I'm sure would say the same thing, if you look at the potential of that car and the points that they perhaps didn't achieve, they may have their own frustrations."

He is confident that McLaren can still overhaul Red Bull as the year progresses.

"They are about 0.8s ahead on some circuits," he said. "We know just based on our own experience that we closed 2.5s per lap gap between the start of the season and Hungary last year so we've demonstrated that that kind of gradient is do-able.

"They have a quick car and it is up to the rest of us now to get the job done. I suspect that they won't have that advantage all season, but I'm sure if you speak to Adrian Newey he will say that they are working just as hard to stay ahead. I think they are eminently catchable and it's our job to do that."

Neale added that McLaren was confident both Hamilton and Button were achieving everything they could with McLaren's current car, and said it was up to the team to resolve the issues that have left Button slightly off the pace at some tracks.

"If I am really honest I don't think that Jenson's fluctuation in form is anything to do with him, I think it's us," said Neale.

"I don't think we have given him or Lewis a car that will put him on the front row of the grid yet so they have got their work cut out.

"Jenson and Lewis are working really well and in terms of their drives both of them are leaving nothing on the circuit. The obligation is now on us as a team to get the car to get the job done, not for the drivers themselves to look at what they need to do next."

He denied that McLaren was finding it hard to make the car suitable for both its drivers' style.

"In terms of tailoring the car specifically for [Button] then there is nothing about Jenson's driving style relative to Lewis's that says they want to exploit the tyres any differently," Neale insisted. "They have slightly different preferences for braking but by the time you are into brakes, you are in second orders of magnitude compared to front suspension, wheelbase etc.

"So we are very happy that having these drivers doesn't mean your chief engineer has got to open up two or three development paths which sap the organisation of energy.

"So we are not looking at different suspension layouts for one or the other and it means that we can then focus on getting more downforce and getting more out of the tyres, which is essentially the only way we are going to close the gap to Red Bull. That and be operationally more effective."

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