- Monaco Grand Prix
Whitmarsh not worried by Monaco form dip
Martin Whitmarsh has warned against reading too much into the pecking order at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix as the circuit is unlike most others in Formula One.
McLaren came to the weekend as favourites after Lewis Hamilton's strong showing in Spain, where he would have started from pole position had it not been for a refuelling error and subsequent penalty in qualifying. This weekend the cars were fourth and 13th fastest in qualifying but Hamilton and Jenson Button will both move up a space on the grid due to penalties for other drivers.
Asked after qualifying if he felt McLaren's early season form, which saw Jenson Button win the opening race of the season in Australia, was in decline, Whitmarsh said: "I think, firstly, this circuit isn't like other circuits, I don't think you can read too much into it. It's an extraordinary season ... I didn't think, even at the start of Q3, that Michael [Schumacher] was going to come out with a time like that. Lotus had looked good here, I thought they looked like they were going to challenge and Lewis was in front of the two of them. Mercedes, congratulations to them, they did a good job.
He said McLaren are still on the right track to continue to challenge at the front this year.
"We've got to keep working because this year's championship is very unusual and is going to, undeniably, continue to be a fight to develop the car, to understand and work with these tyres, and if you can get it right you get a huge performance uplift. I think if you look back at a number of the surprise quick guys here, if they're really honest, they're not quite sure why they were quick at the moment that they were quick.
"I think we've got a competitive car, we haven't always got the best out of it. We've got two great racing drivers, so it's going to be a fight for the whole year. There are going to be moments of frustration and a few moments of elation, that's how the whole world championship fight should be. We'd all like to understand everything and be improving the car and understand the tyres every single time we go out but evidently it's not like that for us and it's not like that for anyone. That's the real challenge."
Whitmarsh said getting the most from the tyres was still proving to be an issue, but that McLaren was not the only team struggling.
"These tyres seem almost organic, certainly non-linear and very difficult and very complex. We don't have as good an understanding of them as we should do and as we would like to have. But I don't think there is anyone out there at the moment - any team, any driver, any engineer - who thinks they've got it nailed on the tyre front."