McLaren's third car is 'key'

McLaren third driver Pedro de la Rosa has told autosport.com that he believes the Woking-based team must make the most of its extra car on the Fridays of grand prix weekends if the team is to capitalise on the promise of its MP4-20

McLaren's third car is 'key'

The Mercedes Benz-powered team's 2005 challenger has been marked out as one of the pre-season favourites for victory in Melbourne, but de la Rosa is adamant that with rivals Renault showing as much speed in testing up until now, the third car could provide the added muscle needed to lift McLaren to the top.

Speaking to autosport.com about the team's chances for the year, a beaming de la Rosa could not hide his confidence about the MP4-20 and was eagerly awaiting getting on with his Friday role.

"We have made a very good car - that is the truth," said de la Rosa. "And Michelin has made a very big step forward. We really have to take advantage of having the third car, which is my job. It's a lot of responsibility on me and I'm very happy to take that."

McLaren's dismal start to the 2004 campaign, where its MP4-19 was left struggling near the back of the field, meant the outfit could manage no better than fifth overall in the constructors' championship - even though the transformed MP4-19B helped Kimi Raikkonen win in Belgium.

That fifth placed finish means that McLaren qualifies to run the third car on the Friday of grand prix weekends throughout 2005 - a factor that could prove a massive advantage. Last year BAR benefitted from the input of Anthony Davidson with its third car.

De la Rosa added: "The car is very quick, and it's so driveable. You don't have to fight the car this year, and so far we haven't had any engine problems. Reliability is good. In terms of speed, Renault are on a par with us, so we have to be careful, but we are very well prepared for the season and let's see in Melbourne."

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