McLaren: No doubts over race pace


McLaren sees no reason why its strong Abu Dhabi Grand Prix form cannot be carried through to the race, despite the tyre problems it suffered in India last weekend.

Lewis Hamilton ended Red Bull's recent domination of qualifying with a brilliant pole position at Yas Marina on Saturday.

It was the first time since the Japanese GP that one of the RB8s had not qualified at the front of the field.

Although McLaren headed in to last weekend's event at Buddh equally upbeat about strong race form, both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button struggled to find pace on soft tyres in the first stage of the race.

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe is confident that the team will not encounter a repeat of the struggles it had on the soft rubber last time out.

"There is a little bit of a trend here of slow warm-up, so it is difficult to get tyres [bedded] in," he said.

"That could emerge as an issue between the two types of tyre in the race, but it is nowhere like as extreme as it was in India. So it is not a big worry.

"We were optimistic as, if you look at the times in FP3, there was an indication of our speed. The Red Bulls didn't look quite so sparkly as they have in the last few races, so we were crossing our fingers, and in Q1 that pattern was maintained.

"Lewis's ultimate lap was more about just hoping we could string together a good lap as he had done in previous sessions, and he did exactly that. That seemed to be the right ranking."

Lowe believes that the key to McLare's step forward in form compared to Red Bull this weekend is down to the layout of the Yas Marina circuit, which suits his team's car better.

"I think it is track characteristics, as they are a big player. I guess we saw this a lot more earlier in the season and it hasn't completely gone away.

"It is one of those tracks we go well at. We go well at Montreal. We go well at the Hungaroring. We are normally pretty good at Spa and Monza. Then there are races where it is the other way around. Valencia historically we seem to be quite poor at."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh thinks that McLaren's strong form is the result of it being able extract all the performance out of its car this weekend; - something it has struggled to do recently

"We have been strong here, and the car is not too bad," he said. "We have under-delivered to our drivers in terms of giving them the car we should have done in the last few races.

"Whether we have made ourselves look worse, or made Red Bull look better, I don't know.

"This weekend so far it has come together but, with no points on the board yet, we have to make sure we don't make mistakes.

"We are in a good position to be able to win but there is a one hour and 45 minutes fast and furious race that we have to deliver in."

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