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Red Bull is still beatable - McLaren

ESPN Staff
October 24, 2012 « Ferrari aims to make wind tunnel 'state of the art' | Razia and Cecotto get test drives with Toro Rosso »
McLaren is targeting race wins at the final four races © Sutton Images
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McLaren is confident it can bounce back from its recent reliability issues to challenge its rivals for victory at the remaining four races of the season.

McLaren has dropped a total of 54 points to title rivals Red Bull in the last three races as Sebastian Vettel has taken the lead in the drivers' championship with three consecutive wins. Reliability issues have hampered McLaren since Singapore, with gearbox failures on both cars and two handling issues with Lewis Hamilton's car due to broken components at the last two races, but sporting director Sam Michael is confident his team still has the raw pace to challenge Red Bull.

"Vettel's won the last three and circumstances have led to us not being able to that - reliability wise - in all those races," he told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "Getting on top of those issues quickly is something that we've done.

"Red Bull took a good step in Singapore and Suzuka in terms of performance so they are tough competitors, but we'll go the distance with them. There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to get up there in the remaining races and that is our target.

"The thing is that the gaps are very small and it only takes one or two tenths for things to swing one way or the other. That can be driven off the development within a team or another team not bringing enough and we swing from one way to another. That's great for those watching grand prix racing but it just makes our life very difficult, but we're not in it because it's easy. I do believe we can take the challenge to them in the last four races."

Asked if getting to the bottom of the reliability problems had distracted the team's pursuit of performance, Michael said: "Sometimes it can do if you have something that's endemic, but in the case of the problems that we've had this year, no it hasn't caused any problems. Those two things are naturally separated anyway with the way that the business is structured and the type of problems that we've had have not had any cost effect on performance."

Michael confirmed that McLaren would continue to develop the MP4-27 until the final race in Brazil.

"We're going to push to the end. It's a pretty straightforward decision between 2012 and 2013 because the rule changes for next year are quite small compared to what they'd be in normal years. So the development work that we do on this car would go in to 2013 anyway.

"So although they [the two cars] are different design and aerodynamic programmes within McLaren, there is quite a lot of transfer of that development. It's not that big a decision to continue to develop the 2012 car. Our target is to still do as well as we can with our two drivers."