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Whitmarsh: McLaren have potential engine advantage 03 Nov 2010

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, Friday, 9 July 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Montreal, Canada, Saturday, 12 June 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 10 October 2010

Superior engine reliability could yet prove a trump card in McLaren’s bid to beat Red Bull and Ferrari to the 2010 drivers’ and constructors’ championships. That is according to team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

All five of the drivers in title contention have used their allotted eight engines for the season, with use of a ninth carrying a heavy, ten-place grid penalty. However, Lewis Hamilton’s and Jenson’s Button’s available V8s have completed relatively low mileage.

“Mercedes-Benz have done a great job,” said Whitmarsh during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix. “We will not expect engines to run more than two race distances in races until the end of the season.”

That means in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, more practice running - and potentially more power - will be available to Hamilton and Button than to rivals restricted by a shortage of relatively fresh engines. While Red Bull’s Mark Webber is in a quite strong position after taking on a new V8 in Korea, team mate Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will have to be more cautious.

“Certainly some of our competitors are going to have to have more mileage on their engines and their engines classically have not been quite as reliable as the Mercedes-Benz engines,” continued Whitmarsh. “So I think there’s a potential advantage that we have there, but that can change in one revolution of an engine.”

McLaren have their work cut out to stay in the title hunt in Brazil. They lie second in the constructors’ standings, 27 points behind Red Bull and 25 ahead of Ferrari, while in the drivers’ table Hamilton is third, 21 points off Alonso, and Button is a further 21 adrift in fifth, with only an outside shot at retaining his crown.

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