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McLaren hoping for DRS boost at Spa and Monza 24 Aug 2011

McLaren MP4/26 rear wing DRS device looked at by mechanics.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 22 July 2011 Jonathan Neale (GBR) McLaren Managing Director. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 10 June 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 27 August 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 25 June 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 10 July 2011

McLaren believe changes to their DRS rear wing and the way they utilise it over the Grand Prix weekend could boost their qualifying performance at the forthcoming Belgian and Italian rounds, both of which feature long, high-speed straights.

Until now McLaren’s DRS design has focussed on stable race performance, while that of rivals Red Bull has been optimised for qualifying speed. However, with McLaren having closed the gap to Red Bull in recent races, they are now in a position to bias the system more towards achieving optimum grid positions.

“Now that we’ve got ourselves into a situation where we believe that we are more competitive in qualifying and race pace, we have been able to devote more time to the DRS system and our expectations are that our DRS system will be competitive at the next few races,” said McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In.

There is more potential for DRS use during practice and qualifying at Spa and Monza than at any other circuit on the calendar, so an efficient rear wing design will have a particularly significant effect on lap time. Nevertheless, Neale admitted that DRS is always something of a compromise.

“One of the ways in which you get the best DRS is by having to give up a little bit of your optimum wing design. To make the optimum rear wing, you wouldn’t make a DRS-enabled rear wing. It’s not as aero efficient as a conventional rear wing, so when you’re chasing downforce and trying to catch the rest of the field up you have a choice of whether you want to get the downforce and the aero efficiency from the car or whether you are actually after that greater drag reduction.”

Despite having qualified on the front row for six of this season’s 11 rounds to date, McLaren have yet to score a pole position in 2011. However, given their upward curve on Saturday speed and improvements to their DRS, Neale is hopeful that could change very soon.

“The qualifying pace is where we’ve been falling short and we haven’t put our cars in the right part of the grid. I am pleased to say that except for the slight blip at the British Grand Prix then the trend has been good and we have been closing in and we’re developing that at a better rate.”

McLaren lie second in the constructors’ standings heading to Belgium, with 280 points to the 383 of leaders Red Bull.

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