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Misfirin' McLaren's 'tall order'

2013-08-22 10:47

SOMBRE CAMP: The McLaren F1 team has decided to focus on 2014 rather than attempt a win during the 2013 season. Driver Jenson Button had a glimmer of hope before the season break, but seems to have changed his mind. Image: AFP

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ALAN BALDWIN

LONDON, England - Misfiring McLaren has backed away from talk of winning a race this Formula 1 season and admits "doing so will be a real challenge".

The UK-based team's managing director Jonathan Neale told reporters on Wednesday (Aug 21) ahead of the 2013 Belgian F1 GP that it would be a tall order to expect to see Jenson Button or Mexican Sergio Perez win before 2014.

"That will be a real challenge," he said. "We're almost through August and there's a lot of work to do to get ready for 2014 so I think inevitably we'll increasingly start to focus on that year."

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Button, 2009 champion with Brawn GP, has not finished higher than fifth in 10 races so far in 2013 and Perez's best is sixth.

Despite the slump from having the fastest car at the end of 2012, Button told reporters before July's Hungarian GP that he felt the team could still win a race - and Sunday's race at Spa would be the best chance. He won there from pole in 2012 but Neale said he "wanted to underplay" Button's words.

Neale said: "I think his euphoria comes from his being able to see the leaders for a more of the time in the past few races. Spa is a fantastic place, drivers are always excited to get there, and we love it but it is notoriously difficult. I don't think anyone would go feeling confident."

Button and team principal Martin Whitmarsh also put some distance between them and the optimism of Hungary in a race preview.

Whitmarsh said the team was "not a contender for outright victory this time round"; Button declared "we don't go to Spa with the package to win".

McLaren, the second most-successful team after Ferrari in terms of championships and race wins, last went through a season without a victory in 2006.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 Belgian GP weekend.

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