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Title 'ambitious' but McLaren will still push - Whitmarsh
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh insists his team will not give up in its push for the championship and has revealed that development for 2012 is starting to contribute to the performance of the 2011 car.
With drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton both over 100 points off championship leader Sebastian Vettel, the chances of winning the drivers' title are slim and McLaren is now 131 points adrift of Red Bull in the constructors'.
But when asked if it was now just a matter of hope and pray, Whitmarsh joked: "It depends on your religious conviction, I don't do too much of that myself. I try and work on making the car quicker, minimise mistakes, race well and encourage the drivers to stay focussed and try to win the next races. I think generally that's what we've done in this team and I'm sure there are other persuasions down here [in the paddock] with different gods they might want to pray to, but I don't do that."
Rival team Ferrari recently said it is now focusing on 2012 with some upgrades for 2011, but Whitmarsh believes the two projects are not mutually exclusive.
"You review the emphasis [between the two] all the time of course," he said. "But interestingly here this week we had six performance modifications on the car and one of those came out of the development programme for next year's car. You're always going to try and steal things from next year's car so that will happen and there's not a line that you draw and say this is purely this year's car and on the other side of that car is purely next year's car.
"You're learning and gaining this year and next year and occasionally you learn something in next year's development programme that you can use in this year. I want the car to be quicker in the next race and the race after that and we're going to keep pushing for the time being."
He said the teams also owed it to the fans to keep pushing until the very end.
"We're working on next year's car, but probably a weakness of McLaren, and my own personal weakness, is that we don't like not winning," he added. "I can't help myself, I'm always asking the guys how are we going to make the car quicker next weekend and for the time being we're going to keep pushing, there are seven races and those are seven races we can win. That's got be the goal at the moment, and I think the championship looks pretty ambitious, but I think at the moment we've got to be positive and the fans expect it. If Ferrari or particularly McLaren says we're going to freewheel now, I don't think that's the right message and I think the fans deserve a stronger battle than that."