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- It's a Wrap
April 16th, 2012
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says his team has little to regret over missing out on victory in the previous two races.
Despite having what many believe as the best car on the grid, McLaren has seen Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg take victories in the last two grands prix for Ferrari and Mercedes respectively.
But with many expecting the warmer conditions in Bahrain to play to the strengths of McLaren, Whitmarsh says he is confident, but not convinced that his car’s speed will be enough to guarantee victory this weekend.
“Overall, what can we regret?” he said. “We can regret that Lewis [Hamilton] had a [gearbox] grid penalty and got put back. Otherwise he would have been in the front and could have controlled the race.
“Another regret is we didn’t get Jenson [Button] out in clear air, but I think the strategy, three stops, was the right way to go if you are going to race through the traffic and we did that.”
“I think we are competitive, and the important thing is we have two great racing drivers. If we can qualify better than we did here, then I think we can race well.
“We’ve had three very different races and I think we are going to have potentially 20 very different races this year. I think that’s fascinating in a sense.
“I enjoy it and I think people watching really enjoy it. Who’s going to predict who will win in Bahrain? I won’t. I have no idea whatsoever. I’d like to think it’s us, but we’ll see when we get there.”
Although McLaren’s three-stop strategy in China was not good enough to overcome race-winner Rosberg, who was on a two-stop, Whitmarsh believes Jenson Button could have given the Mercedes a much tougher time if he hadn’t been delayed at his final pitstop by a problem with the left rear wheel.
“It’s just one of those things,” he said. “The strategy call was absolutely right. We would have got him out into clear air. He lost some six seconds and then lost a heck of a lot more because of the traffic. And you also condition your tyres badly.
“Understanding the tyres, getting them into the sweet spot, either by skill or good fortune is vital. Or vice versa: falling outside the sweet spot by lack of skill of lack of fortune can make it very difficult.
“You can speculate. We would have been a lot closer and, if Nico’s tyres had gone off, we could have got him, but his tyres looked pretty good at the end. So I don’t think we threw away a first place. I’m not going to torture myself too much. I think we would have struggled to get him.”