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McLaren confident of Malaysia podium

2014-03-28 08:26

HEADED FOR SEPANG: McLaren's Jenson Button believes he can close the gap to Mercedes rivals Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the 2014 Malaysian GP. Image: AP

SEPANG, Malaysia - Despite lack of pace, McLaren duo Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen believe they could earn podium spots at the 2014 Malaysian G on the Sepang circuit on Sunday (March 30).

They showed promise at the 2014 Formula 1 season-opener in Australia.

The drivers were promoted to second and third in Melbourne  following the disqualification of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, putting the team on top of the Constructors' standings.

CLOSING THE GAP

However, F1 experts believe that Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg, who won the Albert Park race, and Lewis Hamilton, who was on pole before retiring, were ahead of the rest as the grid gets becomes accustomed to the new V6 engines.

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to share R4bn dividend


Button said: "I think the two guys in the Mercedes, it's going to be easy for them in terms of how competitive they'll be compared to the rest. Everyone else behind I think is fighting for third. I think there's a big gaggle of cars that are very close in lap times and probably in race pace as well."

Button acknowledged the quick Sepang track was probably not suited to his Mercedes-powered car but was confident that upgrades for the race would help. "This is a high-speed circuit compared to Melbourne. That's an area where we're not at our strongest so that does hurt us abit.

"The low-speed corners I think we are going to be stronger at this race which is good. It's where a lot of the lap time is made up because you're in the corner for longer. You'd say it would be a bit more difficult here but with the upgrades we have we have to be fighting for a podium.

"I'm pretty positive about the direction we're taking with the car and hopefully we can keep bringing stuff to every race. The only way we're going to catch Mercedes is if we're developing every race we go to."

EARLY ADVANTAGE

Button attempted to heap the pressure on former McLaren team mate Hamilton, saying it was vital Mercedes made the most of its early advantage with the gap sure to close later in the season.

Button, who won the 2009 Malaysian race, said: "The only thing you can hope for here is reliability issues. It's super hot. It's a tough circuit on the car. You'd say we're fighting for a podium really and then just never know what's going to happen to the Mercedes. (If they have) reliability issues then we'll get a better result than that."

Team mate Magnussen became F1's most successful debutant since Canadian Jacques Villeneuve in 1996 after his second place in Melbourne. Magnussen commented: "I'm not getting carried away with the result we had in Australia. As a team we got the most out of what we had and we can feel really proud of that.

"We are not in the situation we want to be. We have to keep pushing and the good thing is I can feel everyone in the team is on the same track.

"We all are pushing flat out to try and get where we want to be. We will close it (the gap on Mercedes) at some point. When? I don't know."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Malaysian GP.

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Read more on:    mclaren  |  2014 malaysian gp  |  sepang  |  malaysia  |  motorsport  |  racing  |  f1

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