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McLaren must start 2012 quickly - Whitmarsh

ESPNF1 Staff
November 18, 2011 « Ecclestone gives Austin one week | 'One year feels like three' - Perez »
Despite six victories Martin Whitmarsh says "this has not been a vintage year" for McLaren © Sutton Images

Martin Whitmarsh says McLaren must be winning races from the start of the 2012 season in order to challenge for the drivers' and constructors' championships.

Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend was McLaren's sixth of the season, but came three races after Sebastian Vettel had secured the drivers' title and two after Red Bull was crowned constructor's champions. Speaking at the opening of the new McLaren Production Centre at the team's headquarters, Whitmarsh said that the problem had been a slow start to the season, and that McLaren couldn't afford the same in 2012.

"We're very proud of the performance at the weekend in Abu Dhabi to win that race," Whitmarsh said. "That brings us to six victories, and obviously we'd like to make it seven (in Brazil) before the end of this year. But by the high standards of McLaren this has not been a vintage year. We've secured second place in the constructors' championship, but clearly we want to win more races than this.

"We had a slow start this year, so we have to get out of the blocks quickly and effectively at the start of next year to make sure we are winning races straightaway. We've two great drivers, a fantastic team of men and women here who are continuously innovative and moving us forward to be competitive. So we're optimistic about next year. If we weren't then we would have to change something because we are here to win."

Managing director Jonathan Neale said that the team doesn't win enough titles, but that it needs to "graft" over the winter to ensure it is in a stronger position at the start of next season.

"We've consistently won races, we're consistently on the podium, but we don't win championships enough and that's a frustration," Neale said. "We love winning races, but we need to win more championships. We have shown we can out-develop and stay close to everybody, but we have to get out of the blocks, start quick. We do that with graft. Lewis and Jenson, as back-to-back world champions, deserve the best, so that's a clear target."