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Silverstone exhaust rules cost McLaren 0.8s

ESPNF1 Staff
July 20, 2011 « McLaren laughs off Whitmarsh exit rumours | »
McLaren is expecting to be stronger at Nurburgring where the rules will be the same as they were at the European Grand Prix © Sutton Images

McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale believes his team lost as much as 0.8 seconds to its rivals at the British Grand Prix because of the clampdown on off-throttle exhaust blown diffusers.

The one-off rule change clearly hit McLaren hard as both cars struggled to match Red Bull and Ferrari in qualifying and the team took just 12 points away from the weekend.

Neale is confident the return to pre-Silverstone regulations will help the it get back on track.

"I think that if you look at what happened at Silverstone, then the impact of the interpretation of the engine regulations and rules at that weekend cost us more than both Ferrari and Red Bull," he told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "That is a matter of face and public record, not opinion. You heard various people form Ferrari quoted that they lost 0.2-0.3s and Red Bull certainly lost more than that and we lost more than both of them. So we probably went backwards relative to them by 0.7s or 0.8s.

"We look forward to the return of the Valencia regulations for this weekend. We are not by any means being complacent, either about the progress Ferrari has made or the quality of the car that Red Bull has developed. Our job is to beat both of them and that's what we are going to do."

He said McLaren would continue to take risks at the upcoming rounds to try and win races, despite Lewis Hamilton's low-fuel strategy backfiring at Silverstone.

"Formula One isn't something that you can play safe, it is about taking risks and you try and get that balance of risks right," Neale added. "Clearly when you're coming from behind - as we are and Ferrari are - you have to work very hard at that. Some risks you take work and some don't.

"One of the examples of that was that we consciously put Lewis on a lighter fuel strategy at Silverstone, giving him the ability to fight from P10 [on the grid]. When you're sitting in P10 in a car which has lost over a second of lap time, given the interpretation of the engine regulations for that event, then sitting there just chugging along with everyone else won't get the job done. So we took an aggressive strategy with him.

"I think it also means in terms of car development we have to push very hard to close the gap. None of us are going to sit here and make it easy for Red Bull and every one of us wants to win races. So that's what we are going to do."

And Neale said McLaren is still targeting the championship, albeit while juggling priorities for next year's car as well.

"I think we keep that under constant review, in terms of the priority," he added. "The organisation exists is to win races. We still think there is a chance that we can win races [this season] and we will keep our foot in it.

"While it's mathematically possible to win the championship, and it is possible to win the championship, we will fight for it. And even if it isn't that doesn't mean to say we are not going to try and win races.

"Winning races is good for us, it's good for our drivers, it's what we are about. But yes, we will constantly keep that balance between how much of our priority is on this year and how much is on next year and we keep that under constant review, but at the moment it's business as usual."