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'Small upgrades for Turkey' - Whitmarsh
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has said the team will be bringing "a number of small modifications" to the Turkish Grand Prix.
Having appeared well off the pace during winter testing, McLaren made impressive progress to be Red Bull's nearest challenger at the season-opening grand prix in Australia, and got closer again in Malaysia before Lewis Hamilton won the last race in China. Whitmarsh said that the team's hard work had earned the victory, but that more was needed if it was to continue to challenge for wins.
"Winning in China was a fantastic reward for all the hard effort that's been undertaken both at the racetrack and the McLaren Technology Centre to turn MP4-26 into a race winner," Whitmarsh said. "We're excited and encouraged by the pace and consistency that both drivers have shown in the opening three flyaway races, but the return to Europe brings fresh challenges.
We're under no illusions that we need to improve our qualifying and race pace if we are to remain a threat at the front. Additionally, many teams will be readying significant upgrade packages for the Turkish Grand Prix; nobody can afford to sit still. For this race, we'll be evaluating a number of small modifications - which include some aerodynamic refinements to the bodywork - during Friday practice."
Despite Hamilton winning in Shanghai, the consensus is that Red Bull still has the fastest car on the grid and McLaren are trying to close the gap. Whitmarsh agrees that the development race is going to be key throughout the season.
"Our pace of development is what can win us this championship, and we go into Turkey determined to ensure our upgrades deliver practical gains and are able to confer a useful margin to both drivers. Our one-two finish in Turkey last year was one of our most exciting races - and the memory of that result will doubtless spur on the whole team next weekend."