McLaren vows to halt Bull express

2012-11-02 08:30

ABU DHABI - McLaren is going into the unique "day/night" Abu Dhabi 2012 F1 GP believing it can stop the Red Bull runaway express taking the Constructors' World championship with three races to go.

McLaren's sporting director Sam Michael said track characteristics changing from one circuit to another could see rampant Red Bull's advantage wiped out and give other teams a chance to win but he admitted that it would be very difficult to catch them in the title race.


Red Bull, after four consecutive wins, one of them the previous Sunday's comprehensive demonstration of supremacy by defending Driver's champion Sebastian Vettel, is leading both championships after 17 of 2012's 20 races. Vettel, who has reeled off four consecutive for the team, has 240 points to lead nearest rival and double champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari by 13 points with three races left.

Red Bull, with 407 points, is leading the Manufacturers' title chase by 91 from Ferrari and with McLaren another 10 behind and will take the title if it leaves Abu Dhabi with a lead of 86, or 87 if a McLaren wins the race. This allows for many permutations for the title but the minimum for Red Bull is to finish first and eighth, or second and third, to take the title.

Michael, however, believes there is a good chance that McLaren, or Ferrari, could postpone paddock celebrations on Sunday night. "The performance can swing from one track to another by a couple of tenths. There are two or three tenths in terms of qualifying and, if you have that performance from (starting on) the front row, you have a better chance.

"So if nobody upgraded cars, there would still be a reasonable chance to have a go at (Red Bull) but in terms of the overall championship it is quite different, because non-finishes are needed to take the title and the chances of that happening are pretty slim."

McLaren has demonstrated competitive pace and consistency in recent races but will need to find some additional performance to threaten Red Bull's dream of claiming a third consecutive Constructors' championship and then seeing Vettel crowned as the youngest triple champion yet.


If McLaren finishes Sunday's race in the points it will set a record of 56 consecutive points finishes - one better than Ferrari. That record may be enjoyed but it will hardly be celebrated by a team desperate for major success and outshone in recent years by Red Bull - an era of domination that began when Vettel seized his first title at the amazing Yas Marina Circuit in 2010.

Since then Vettel has had a record-breaking effect on F1 and revelled in overcoming all challenges, among them 205 consecutive laps as race leader since taking charge of the Singapore Grand Prix on lap 23 on September 23, 2012.

He is just 100 laps behind Italian Alberto Ascari's record and could, if he remains dominant, overhaul it later this month at the US GP in Austin, Texas. The Abu Dhabi twilight race will be 55 laps from sunshine into the night, with falling temperatures, and could be a major examination of his and Red Bull's ability to continue performing at such a high level.

Vettel is sure to face fierce opposition with Alonso determined to realise his belief that he will lift the title in the final race in Brazil on November 25, 2012 and both his Ferrari team and McLaren doing their utmost to end the Red Bull run.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2012 Abu Dhabi F1 GP weekend.