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November 14th, 2012
McLaren insists it will not allow Lewis Hamilton’s ‘painful’ exit from the lead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to influence its programme at Austin this weekend.
Hamilton was robbed of what looked to be a comfortable victory at Yas Marina due to a fuel pump failure on lap 19 - the second instance in the past five races of victory being stolen from his grasp after his Singapore gearbox failure.
Such retirements have proved costly to Hamilton’s championship hopes and given Lotus a glimpse of catching McLaren for third in the constructors’ championship.
Click here for Jonathan Noble’s thoughts on why McLaren needs a shift in focus for 2013
The team insists however that such concerns will not change its focus in the inaugural Austin Grand Prix, where it is certain its Abu Dhabi form will continue.
“The failure we had in Abu Dhabi was very painful but having said that we’ve just done 1500 trouble-free kms with the same car in the young driver test at the circuit last week,” McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale said in a Vodafone phone-in.
“Obviously we are very mindful of the constructors’ championship, but we are still taking performance upgrades to this circuit and we’re not taking an overtly cautious approach.
“We will be very diligent, yes. [But] our hope, our desire, is to do really well and win the race.”
Neale said allowing the drivers to learn the layout of the Austin track, and acclimatise to the several blind apexes, would have to be factored into the team’s typical Friday programmes.
“I think it will be an interesting one for drivers to have to learn on Friday, and for teams to balance time for engineering programs as well as allowing drivers to get to grips with it,” he explained.
“The extra set of Friday tyres should help. It is always lovely to go new circuit, and this one in particular looks like it has been really well thought out.
“Of course I’ve not physically been there, but I’ve seen simulations and certainly the height changes in track and way some corners have been set up with blind apexes I think is going to make really exciting racing.
“I expect to see the usual suspects at the front, but I certainly hope that it is a McLaren circuit.”