McLaren 'We're back in the fight'
JENSON BUTTON: Has he put McLaren back in the 2012 title fight?
HOCKENHEIM, Germany - McLaren is back in the title fight after emerging from a spell of poor results, team chief Martin Whitmarsh believes.
He said the team now had the cars and a strong enough development programme to fight for the World championship.
After disappointing results in the European and British GP's, McLaren returned to form here on Sunday when Briton Jenson Button finished second in the German GP after the introduction of a major package of upgrades for the car, among them modified sidepods and exhausts.
In dry conditions, the McLaren was the fastest car at Hockenheim. "It is good enough at the moment," Whitmarsh said, "but it won't be if we don't keep developing it - we still have half a season to go.
"Both our drivers are capable of winning races and this year's World championship. The onus is on us to keep developing. From what I have seen, that was the opinion of our engineers, too -we're optimistic."
While Button got a boost on Sunday from a penalty handed to defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who ran off the track while overetaking him in the final stages of the race, his team mate Lewis Hamilton retired for the second time in three races after a puncture and other problems.
Whitmarsh refused to rule out either driver or the team making up a big points deficit to revive their championship challenge. McLaren in third in the Constructors' championship but 70 points behind Red Bull; Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are 62 and 86 points respectively behind Drivers' championship leader Fernando Alonso, who won Sunday after leading from start to finish.
"Fernando is doing a great job and so is Ferrari but we are fighters so there will be some great races and we need to maximise our points," Whitmarsh said. "In Germany we could catch him and hurt our tyres but we couldn't get past him. We were a reasonable amount quicker, but if you put someone such as Fernando at the front of a race then you are going to have difficulty getting past him."
As Whitmarsh voiced optimism, Lotus team chief Eric Boullier said he was confident his team could fight back and beat McLaren to take third place in the teams' title fight.
PARTNERS FAILED TO SCORE
McLaren moved into third in the Constructors' championship thanks to Button's second place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus. Their respective team mates (Hamilton and Romain Grosjean) failed to score and Lotus is now only a point behind McLaren.
Boullier said: "It's obviously disappointing to lose third place but it's very, very tight and we've built a gap over the fifth-placed team.
"We are hungry for success and want more. If we can keep bringing the developments and updates we've been planning and make them work on track then I think we should be able to defend our current position."
He was aware that Lotus needed to improve its qualifying form to bring any success; Raikkonen qualified 10th in Germany, Grosjean 19th.
"It's clear what we need to do for better results. Anyone who watches F1 can tell us... we need to do better in qualifying," Boullier said. "We have to be top four or five on the grid."