Whitmarsh urges team to 'regroup'

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has urged his team to 'regroup' and come back stronger at the Japanese Grand Prix, after a disappointing performance in Singapore

Whitmarsh urges team to 'regroup'

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button did not have the pace to take the fight to Red Bull Racing and Ferrari at the Marina Bay circuit - with their fortunes not helped by higher than expected tyre degradation.

And Hamilton's title hopes also took a major blow when he was forced out of the race following a tangle with championship leader Mark Webber.

But rather than be downbeat about the situation, which has left his two drivers third and fifth in the points table, Whitmarsh still think there is everything to play for over the remainder of the season.

"There are four races to go and a lot of championship points - 100 points on offer," said Whitmarsh. "And if there are 25 points spreading the first five drivers they must all fancy their chances.

"Inevitably you come away from here disappointed and bruised, but we have got to regroup and this was always going to be a difficult circuit for us.

"A number of disappointments happened over the course of the weekend in one way or another, but I think we were up there racing again and we will see what happens when we get to Japan."

Hamilton's retirement, just a fortnight after he crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix, has left him 20 points adrift of series leader Mark Webber with four races to go.

Whitmarsh is well aware that good points-scoring opportunities have been missed in the past two races, but feels there is no reason that the misfortune would carry on.

"Lewis should be leading the championship today and he isn't, so clearly we and he are disappointed," he said. "But the fact is that he is still within one race win of leading this championship. You have got four races left and 100 points so go out there and win races. Both our drivers still have a chance."

Although a new front wing introduced by McLaren did not deliver a performance step that allowed the team to fight at the front, Whitmarsh is optimistic that things will be better in the Japanese Grand Prix.

"This is a very different circuit from the ones we are going to. We have to continue to upgrade and develop our car. We have an upgrade coming for the next race, but I am sure the others will continue development.

"Suzuka is a very different circuit from here. I can't make predictions; I don't know what the other cars are going to do. I know we have got decent developments and we will see. It is a great circuit Suzuka, we look forward to that and we look forward to putting this race in our memory bank."

And Whitmarsh reckoned McLaren's form in Singapore was hindered more by the tyre situation that a simple lack of ultimate speed.

"I think the pace differential was due to looking after tyres. You have to say [Sebastian] Vettel and [Fernando] Alonso could look after their tyres and they clearly had the pace beyond Mark [Webber] and beyond our two cars today.

"We knew it was easy to overheat rear tyres here and if you have got a good balance then you can look after your tyres a bit better."

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