McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes the MP4/25 should be well suited to the next two tracks on the calendar.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Valencia street track both have long straights where the McLaren excels and few of the fast corners that suit Red Bull’s RB6.
Speaking during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in he said:
We’ve got a few more development items on the car for this weekend. This ought to be where we are quickest.
It’s undoubtedly the case at the moment that the Red Bull is very strong in long, high-speed corners. Fortunately the next two Grands Prix don’t feature a lot of those. We hope that we’ll be strong there.
But of course while we’re developing our car we never know what Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari are going to turn up with. Maybe they’ll turn up with a larger step forward than us.
We’ve got a new front wing again. We had a new front wing as part of the package in Istanbul, that didn’t work, we think we’ve understood that so we’ve modified it and hopefully that will work.
We also have a new rear wing lower element and modifications to the diffuser. So we’ve got a reasonable aerodynamic package which we hope will take us a few steps forward.
Whitmarsh believes that the team are now more than a match for Red Bull on race pace:
Red Bull still had an advantage on us in qualifying [in Turkey]. But I think it was clear in the race that we had a faster race pace which was very encouraging.
And I think that is down to solid work developing the car. We try to bring small, incremental improvements to the car on a continuous basis.
When you look at Red Bull’s package at Barcelona, it’s very easy to go looking for the ‘eureka’ development that’s going to catch up but in my experience you’ve just got to work away at finding downforce, reducing drag, improving the balance and that’s what we’ve done.
Red Bull haven’t stood still. They’re a good team and I think we pride ourselves on trying to quicker than our competitors, I think we proved that last year. We’ll try to do it to the end this year.
He was also asked whether FOTA was supportive of calls for three-car teams. Whitmarsh said that was something that would only happen if the number of teams dropped. He would like to see it used to bring drivers like World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb into the sport.
It hasn’t been discussed recently. A third car is an idea if you get a reduced number of teams. FOTA is working hard to find ways in which we can encourage and allow all of the teams which are currently members – which is all of them – to flourish.
If you introduce a third car McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes would all be, probably happy to have a third car. But I think in fairness to the smaller teams it would only disadvantage them further.
So in the event that the number of teams in the sport dropped below ten – and we’re hoping it’ll be 13 next year – then I think it would be a fantastic opportunity, if we attached to the third car some regulations that encouraged some of the very competent but non-Formula 1 experts to participate. I think it would create some interesting spectacle and public interest.