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McLaren making 'significant gains' - Whitmarsh

ESPN Staff
March 25, 2013 « Mercedes orders 'work both ways' - Brawn | Ferrari takes blame for Alonso retirement »
Jenson Button was set to challenge for the podium before a late pit stop error © Sutton Images
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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes the team displayed it has made "significant gains" during the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The troublesome MP4-28 looked more competitive in FP3 but Button only managed to qualify seventh in the wet. However, impressive race pace in the dry saw Button running fifth and set to complete one less pit stop than the cars in front to pull himself in to podium contention, with a late pit stop error dropping him out of the points before he retired.

Sergio Perez finished ninth after being forced to make a late pit stop and Whitmarsh said the performance of both cars had highlighted a clear step forward compared to Australia.

"After having finished only ninth and 11th last weekend in Melbourne, in Sepang we saw clear evidence that all the hard work we've been doing over the past week has resulted in some significant gains in terms of car development," Whitmarsh said. "Obviously, however, we're very disappointed that Jenson lost a hard-earned and well-deserved fifth place, perhaps even third or fourth, as a consequence of a pitstop problem caused by a wheel-gun issue. Jenson did absolutely nothing wrong and reacted correctly to the green light, by the way.

"Checo, too, put in a solid and plucky performance all weekend, earning his first points for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes this afternoon, and recorded fastest lap at the very end of the race. Clearly, therefore, although as I say we're very disappointed for Jenson, the truth is that he could and should have finished at least fifth - and, although by our own high standards that's not remotely good enough, it plainly shows that we're going in the right direction from a car-development point of view."