McLaren looking to raise their game
PUBLISHED: 10:20 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:25 26 October 2009
HOCH ZWEI / Juergen Tap
McLAREN bosses have admitted their team underperformed in last month s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in the second race of the season as McLaren were second best to bitter rivals Ferrari. In his Malaysian Grand Prix debri
McLAREN bosses have admitted their team "underperformed" in last month's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in the second race of the season as McLaren were second best to bitter rivals Ferrari.
In his Malaysian Grand Prix debrief, McLaren F1 boss Martin Whitmarsh said things didn't go to plan after a fine start to the season in Melbourne.
"We knew it would be quite a challenge to beat Ferrari in Malaysia and I think, ultimately, we underperformed," said Whitmarsh.
"We have drawn lots of positives from this season's first two races, though.
"I'm delighted with the way everyone is working, for instance.
"Lewis and Heikki (Kovalainen) get along fantastically well and in my 19 years with the team I don't ever recall seeing such an honest exchange of information between drivers."
Lewis began and ended his weekend in Malaysia very strongly, but things seemed to go slightly awry in the middle, during qualifying.
"He was certainly less comfortable with his car's balance on Saturday, but it was just one of those things," said Whitmarsh.
"It had rained overnight, which cleaned the track. That might have been a factor, and then there was a wind direction change.
"People don't always appreciate how fluctuating ambient conditions affect the way a car behaves.
"Sometimes that works in your favour, sometimes it doesn't and I feel that was what happened to Lewis.
"He felt very much at one with his car on Friday, but things just slipped away.
"We will look at that aspect of his weekend very closely and try to understand it before we go to Bahrain."
Hamilton still made a fantastic start to the race and showed his customary verve by slicing from ninth to fifth within the first few corners.
He looked set for yet another strong finish until he lost significant time at his first stop.
Explaining what went wrong, Whitmarsh said: "The wheel-nut locking mechanism failed.
"When the gunman went to remove the nut it wouldn't come off.
"In the end he did a fantastic job because he switched to the spare gun and had to remove the pre-loaded wheel nut/hub cap.
"It appears to be a problem within the axle and the locking mechanism.
"It's something that hasn't happened before and it cost Lewis two things, 10 seconds in the pits and vital track position. "It meant he spent much of his second stint behind Mark Webber's Red Bull and overtaking is notoriously difficult at Sepang.
"Without his problem, though, that fantastic first stint would have earned him a place on the podium."
Looking ahead to this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, Whitmarsh added: "We have to make sure we perform better there.
"We're leading both World Championships, so it hasn't been too shabby a start to the year, but we need to raise our game in Bahrain and carry that through into the European season.
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