McLaren Aims To Extend Lead
June 26, 2007
The ongoing Formula One season has been good for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. They are fielding a new and faster car for this season. They also have the services of double world champion Fernando Alonso - and their rookie Lewis Hamilton is having a sensational rookie season. Hamilton leads the driver’s championship with Alonso ten points behind. The team also led the constructor’s championship by 35 points over second place Ferrari.
Even with their string of success early in the season, the team will not be complacent according to McLaren team chief executive Martin Whitmarsh. The team was last crowned as champion in 1998 and they are aiming to extend their lead and domination to break their successive championship-less streak.
“We have a fight on our hands to maintain, and ideally extend, the lead we have in both championships,” says Whitmarsh. “Ferrari and BMW are not standing still, so our job within the team is to keep providing Fernando and Lewis with a car capable of winning. There is no complacency and the motivation is considerable.”
Ferrari started the season with a win at the Australian Grand Prix recorded by former McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen. After that race though, the Finn seems to have cooled down and Felipe Massa became the more successful driver in the Ferrari stable. Felipe Massa has already taken two wins this season.
Meanwhile, BMW Sauber seems to be getting better as the season continues. At the Canadian Grand Prix, BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld recorded the first podium finish for any team outside McLaren and Ferrari. The German Formula One driver finished second in Canada. His bid for back-to-back podium finishes though was foiled after he was forced to retire at the United States Grand Prix.
The challenge posed by BMW Sauber and Ferrari to McLaren’s domination is very real indeed. That is why McLaren is taking steps to make sure that they have a better setup for every race. The team is also counting on a good relationship between Alonso and Hamilton to avoid the team imploding at the middle of the season they are dominating.
The recent turn of events involving Alonso and Hamilton is welcome news for the British Formula One team. Both Hamilton and Alonso have confirmed that they have a good relationship although they are competitive on the tracks. In fact, Alonso denied the rumors that he will be jumping to Ferrari. He said that he has the best car in the sport today and he is planning to fulfill his contract with McLaren.
At the Silverstone testing, McLaren showed that their Mercedes brake booster-equipped MP4-22 is still one of the fastest cars this season. “We completed one of our most intensive tests of the year so far,” Whitmarsh remarked. “Our test team worked tirelessly to prove a myriad of components, alongside a massive amount of effort being put in across the organization.”
The next race of the season will be the French Grand Prix. Alonso took second place at the race last year behind Michael Schumacher and ahead of Felipe Massa. With his previous performance, the Spanish McLaren driver is looking to extend the lead of his team while at the same time close the gap between him and Hamilton in the driver’s standings. The rookie though is expected to give Alonso a good fight.
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