McLaren sporting director Sam Michael expects Red Bull to be more of a threat at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Speaking during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in Michael said “in reality, Red Bull under-qualified” at Spa.
“If you look at the pace and the fact that could come from outside the top ten to second and beat [Kimi] Raikkonen who was very competitive, that shows you that the Red Bulls actually had very good race pace.
“But they just under-qualified and they don’t normally do that so I would expect Red Bull to be up there and fighting for the front row as well.”
Michael added McLaren are not getting complacent about mastering the challenges of Pirelli’s tyres. “Although we have started to get a good handle on the tyre I felt confident to this level about the tyre earlier in the season and then things shifted again,” he said.
“I’m experienced enough to know that when you think you’re on top of something it normally means you’re not. You’ve got to keep all your R&D programmes continuing to keep understanding all the things that are happening.
“Even in Spa although we were dominant and had a good, strong weekend, we still had issues that happened during practice even on Jenson [Button’s] car to do with tyre performance that we are still studying. So I don’t think there’s any correlation with the tyre compound and our upturned pace, because it was there in Budapest.
“Also I don’t actually think we’re in a dominant position because we’re in this unique drag level area and it’ll take until we get back to Singapore to fathom out where everyone’s going to be for the rest of the year.
“I think Singapore’s probably going to give a better guide than these circuits. I don’t think the tyres will change very much – all that’s really happened is people are understanding them better.”
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Image ?é?® McLaren/Hoch Zwei