Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

McLaren confident of reclaiming advantage from Ferrari 20 Jul 2011

Jonathan Neale (GBR) Mclaren Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 9 April 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 150 Italia battle for position. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 10 July 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Race, Valencia, Spain, Sunday, 26 June 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 leads  Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 150 Italia and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 10 April 2011

While six wins from nine races for Red Bull may look dull on paper, the reality of the 2011 season to date has been far more exciting. Not least because we’ve had the entertaining spectacle of seeing two of the sport’s stalwarts - McLaren and Ferrari - battling it out for the honour of leading the vanguard against the 'upstarts' from Milton Keynes.

Until recently, it had seemed the silver cars were closest to the Red Bulls with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton taking a win apiece, but at Silverstone a resurgent Ferrari made a resounding comeback with a well-deserved victory for Fernando Alonso. McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale, however, is certain his team haven’t slipped to third in the pecking order.

“Up until the last race we were the only ones putting up a credible fight to Red Bull,” Neale explained in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-in. “Both of our drivers have won races. We are not complacent about the progress that Ferrari have made or the cars that Red Bull have developed. Our job is to beat both of them and that’s what we are going to do. We are not intimidated”

Not only is Neale determined not to be cowed by Ferrari’s punchy performance, he believes McLaren will be able to fight back this weekend in Germany, hopeful that the Nurburgring race will demonstrate that McLaren’s pace at the previous British round was adversely affected by the FIA’s regulation change concerning off-throttle exhaust blowing. With the Silverstone directive now repealed, Neale is convinced the MP4-26’s pace can only improve.

“I think if you look at what happened in Silverstone then the impact of the interpretation of the rules cost us more than Red Bull and Ferrari,” he explained. “You heard various people from Ferrari saying that they had lost two to three-tenths, Red Bull lost more than that and we lost more than both of them. We probably went backwards, relative to them, by about 0.7/0.8s. That’s why we found ourselves surrounded by some of the other teams. So we look forward to the return to the Valencia regulations for this weekend.”

Although currently 110 points shy of leaders Red Bull in the constructors’ standings (328 to 218), and with his two drivers tied on tallies of 109 points to Sebastian Vettel’s 204, an ever-positive Neale isn’t ruling out championship success just yet either.

“The organisation exists to win races,” he concluded. “If there’s a chance to win races, then we’ll continue to do so. While it is mathematically possible to win the championship, it's possible, and we’ll fight for it. And even if it isn't, it won’t mean that we're not going to try and win races. It’s good for us, our drivers and it's what we're about. We're not going to make it easy for Red Bull, put it that way.”

McLaren will be back on track at the Nurburgring from Friday.

For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.