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'We need to make a lot more progress' - Whitmarsh

ESPN Staff
April 24, 2013 « Tyre challenge further hurting Williams | Ferrari identifies reason for Alonso's DRS fault »
Martin Whitmarsh: "It was a little bit stronger but we are still not there" © Sutton Images

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says his team's performance is still not good enough despite signs of recovery at the last two races.

At the first race of the season the MP4-28 was over 1.5s off the pace and Jenson Button was only able to salvage two points from the weekend with a ninth-place finish. In Malaysia there were the first signs of improvements before Button finished fifth in China and Sergio Perez took sixth in Bahrain.

After struggling for performance during practice and qualifying last weekend in Bahrain, McLaren's race pace surpassed expectations but Whitmarsh said it was still not good enough.

"It was a little bit stronger but we are still not there," he said. "Yes, we've made a little bit of progress but we shouldn't get carried away. Our drivers did a great job of racing [in Bahrain] and the team did a reasonable job but the car is not quick enough at the moment. We've made some progress but we need to make a lot more."

Whitmarsh said the hotter conditions in Bahrain did not help McLaren after Button finished tenth on a four-stop strategy.

"I wouldn't say so [that the hotter conditions helped], no. Certainly Jenson wouldn't say that, he was struggling with his tyres. With Jenson I was a little bit surprised, but sometimes you just get a set of tyres and they just don't [work as expected].

"After that second stop, from fairly early on, he felt he had thermal degradation and he was struggling. To be honest, that was when Sergio came up behind and he felt he was stronger and quicker at that moment and they raced and that's what we pay them to do."

Whitmarsh said one positive to take from the weekend was that Perez managed to answer his critics, even if he overstepped the mark at one point fighting team-mate Button.

"It's a big positive, undoubtedly. He's joined McLaren and been, arguably, out-thought, out-raced by Jenson, who's done a great job. People want to get on his back about that and he's a McLaren driver and he's going to have some pressure. I think it was an exciting race, he overstepped the mark when he hit Jenson from behind, but apart from that it was robust and tough and he fought his way to sixth place. It's got to be good for him and I'm delighted for him. We've had a bit of a chat about some of it, but I think he'll come out of it stronger."