McLaren 'not behind' with development

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is adamant that his team has not fallen behind in the development race despite having to delay the introduction of the blown rear diffuser

McLaren 'not behind' with development

The British squad had a big update scheduled for the British Grand Prix, but was forced to remove the blown diffuser after hitting trouble with it during Friday's practice sessions.

Both qualifying and the race were dominated by Red Bull's drivers, with Mark Webber taking a commanding win ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Although the team has been unable to race with the diffuser, Whitmarsh says McLaren is still very much on par with its rivals in terms of development.

"I'm not sure we've been behind in the development race - I think we've had a car that's been capable of winning races," said Whitmarsh on Tuesday during a phone-in. "You need to be reliable and quick enough to win races.

"I think we've had both of those things generally. It's always nice to be quicker, it's always nice to be more reliable, but I think we're in a reasonable position - but we know that we've got to continue to development the car if we're going to win the championships this year."

Despite the problems at Silverstone, Whitmarsh is optimistic that the device will be raced this weekend in Germany.

"You can't be entirely confident, but I think we go into Hockenheim with more information," he said. "We've made some modifications in the light of that data and we will be running the blown diffuser on Friday.

"I suspect we'll have it on for the weekend, but we'll make the call in the light of the data on Friday evening."

He also said that having one car with the diffuser and one without it was not possibility McLaren was considering at the moment.

"We're working at the moment on the premise that we'll have blown diffusers on both cars to start with," he added. "At Silverstone Lewis wanted to keep the blown diffuser on on Friday night, but we took the decision there to switch them both back to the older diffuser.

"If there was a preference from one side of the garage to the other - and if I can, we'll avoid that - we'll do it if we think it's the right way to perform during the course of that weekend.

"There are advantages, as you can imagine, to running one car in one configuration, one in the other - provided that in so doing, you don't end up, rightly or wrongly, accused of treating the two drivers differently."

Whitmarsh, whose team is leading both championships after the halfway point of the season, admitted it was still too early to write off teams like Ferrari from the championship fight, despite the lack of results from the Italian squad in recent races.

"I'd love to believe that, but experience has told me that you can't write them off. Ferrari are a strong team, they're technical capable, have fantastic resources and they've got one former world champion and one other top-flight driver and Mercedes-Benz similarly have got one former multiple world champion and a very good driver in Nico [Rosberg].

"So I think it's too early to write them off. We need to improve our car and do as good a job as we can do. Red Bull clearly are the principle challenge at the moment, but I don't dismiss the others."

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