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Dennis: McLaren will cut the gap to Mercedes in Malaysia

Mar 21, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

McLaren Automotive Executive Chairman Dennis addresses the media at official unveiling of the new MP4-12C road car in Woking Reuters

McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has said that he is expecting the team to make a gain of around half a second at the Malaysian Grand Prix in nine days’ time, sending out a warning shot to current front-runners Mercedes.

Following Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, McLaren drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button finished in second and third place respectively. Despite moving to the top of the constructors’ championship, the team was still a long way behind pace-setters Mercedes as Nico Rosberg won the race by over 20 seconds, enjoying an estimated one-lap advantage of around half a second, with Lewis Hamilton’s retirement being the only low point for the German team.

However, Dennis – who returned as CEO at the beginning of the year – is confident of cutting the gap to the German team at the next round in Malaysia (March 28-30).

“I’m very pleased with the changes that have been made over the last couple of months and the outcome I think is very positive, so let’s see where we are in a month or two,” Dennis explained to reporters, reflecting on the team’s worst season in over 30 years in 2013 that sparked a number of changes at Woking, such as the departures of Sergio Perez and Martin Whitmarsh.

“We’re confident that we will be half a second quicker at the next grand prix for a variety of reasons,” he added. “That’s not going to be enough to achieve our goal but that will keep the pressure on the teams that are chasing us.”

The result in Australia saw McLaren beat its best result from 2013, having failed to reach the podium across the course of the season. It marked a highly impressive first race for Danish youngster Kevin Magnussen, who scored the best debut result since Jacques Villeneuve in 1996 with second place.

Although the MP4-29 car may not quite be on par with the Mercedes W05, the team is certainly ahead of Ferrari and Red Bull. However, such a huge improvement in pace may be difficult to produce, but we will see in Sepang whether Dennis’ faith has been well-placed in the new upgrades.

  1. lowboytrucking - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Get em Ron!

  2. thedude111 - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Beside the lack of noise from the cars, this will be the most interesting F1 Season in the last decade

  3. techmeister1 - Mar 21, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Unfortunately Whitmarsh won’t get any credit for putting all the pieces in place for the ’14 car. He’ll just be the scapegoat for McLaren’s troubles the past few seasons.

    As far as the half-second gain in Malaysia, pretty much every team will bring that including Mercedes so it’s going to be a very long season. The teams that can bring more performance race after race and have good reliability will be the champions. Of course we can’t discount the chronic cheaters like Red B.S. Racing. They’ll continue cheating this year as they have done the past three seasons as confirmed by the (worthless) FIA. I would not be surprised to see Mercedes continue to cheat since they got away with murder last year and it allowed them to finish second in the championship.

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