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McLaren looks for more progress at Shanghai

Mar 30, 2013, 8:16 PM EDT

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying Getty Images

McLaren came through with better overall pace in Malaysia last weekend, but with just four points between their men Jenson Button and Sergio Perez after two races, the Woking gang is hoping to improve even further in two weeks at China.

“We’ve got some good data and I think we’ve now got an opportunity to go out there and improve upon it,” said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh (pictured). “We know what we had [in Malaysia] isn’t optimal for various reasons.

“We did some experiments, it responded to those experiments and I would be very disappointed if we don’t take another step in China and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Button was threatening for a solid points-paying finish in Malaysia until he was undone by a pit road error that saw his right front wheel not attached properly (the former World Champion would bow out of the race with three laps left). Perez came away with a ninth-place finish for two points, his first points for the team.

As for the recent team orders controversies that have surrounded rivals Red Bull and Mercedes, Whitmarsh believes that his team can’t really say anything about it, citing the 2007 season that saw Kimi Raikkonen win the title for Ferrari in the final race of the year over McLaren’s then-combo of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

“No, I don’t think the team order headlines are good for F1 personally,” he said in comments to PA Sport. “But it is very easy for me to get very pious and say ‘Well, we don’t do it’, and condemn others. I don’t want to do that.

“Anyone can turn around to us and say, ‘In 2007, you threw away a championship. You could have favored either driver and they would have been World Champion’, which everyone knows is true.”

  1. techmeister1 - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    F1 is a team sport. There is nothing wrong with team orders when appropriate.

    To outright favor one driver over another as Red Bull does with Vettel over Webber is unethical. Asking a driver who is noticeably behind in points to support his teammate at the end of the season, is very reasonable. In Malaysia Vettel was disrespectful and acted like a jerk. Rosberg was respectful and held position as the team requested. Hamilton admitted that Rosberg drove a better race and deserved to be on the podium instead of Lewis. IME what goes around generally comes around.

    • apexassassin - Mar 31, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      “There is nothing wrong with team orders when appropriate”
      So it was ok for Rubens to pull over for Schumi, and Massa for Alonso?

      Sorry, not trying to troll or insult you at all, but how can team orders be ok when appropriate be different than a team showing preferentialy treatment?? That I can’t understand and you post doesn’t explain it.

      The faster and better driver won in Sepang and if the tires weren’t crap they could have raced flat out and Vettel could prove he the superior driver yet again (as he has since joined Webber at RBR). But that wasn’t what happened. What happened was Webber’s car was on Hards and Vettel was on Mediums,

      F1 history shows having a clear #1 driver is the best way to achieve both championships. At least now the team orders are out in the open and we don’t have some bullshit “oh, I missed a gear but it’s ok now” nonsense like in eras past.

      I will add that I thought Vettel’s radio message early in the race was deplorable and not the way a 3 time WDC should act… very Alonso and Hamilton-esque. But petulance and arrogance is a natural result from a successful multimillionaire in his early twenties. Both Alonso and even now Hamilton have matured, I expect the same out of Seb.

  2. techmeister1 - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    Yes it was and is appropriate when one driver has a significant points advantage and can win a championship, it certainly is appropriate for the driver who is not in contention for the championship to allow his teammate past and support his efforts.

    As far as preferential treatment that is when one driver gets better equipment, set-ups, pit calls, etc. over his teammate. That is not the same as giving priority to a driver who is leading in points towards the end of the season with a chance at the driver’s title.

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