McLaren insist they are not overly concerned about reliability going into this weekend’s 2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, despite a car failure having robbed Lewis Hamilton of almost certain victory at the last round in Abu Dhabi.
Instead, the team’s priority will be adding more performance to the MP4-27 as they bid to win at the all-new Circuit of The Americas and hunt down Ferrari in the battle to secure second place in the 2012 constructors’ championship.
“The failure we had in Abu Dhabi was very painful,” admitted managing director Jonathan Neale in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, referring to Hamilton’s retirement on lap 20 at Yas Marina, the former champion having dominated the weekend to that point.
“Having said that, we’ve just done 1,500 trouble-free kilometres with the same car at the [young driver] test last week. So yes, we are very mindful of the constructors’ championship, but we are still taking performance upgrades to this Grand Prix. We are not taking an overtly cautious approach, but we are going to be very diligent.”
McLaren were the last team to win a United States Grand Prix, with Hamilton’s victory at Indianapolis back in 2007, and Neale believes the US race’s new Texan home - the country’s first venue purpose built for F1 competition - should prove to be something special again.
“It’s always lovely to go to a new circuit but this one in particular looks like it’s been really well thought out,” he commented. “I’ve seen the simulations and definitely the height change in the circuit and the way that some of the corners have been set up with some blind apexes is going to make for some really exciting racing.
“The tightening set of curves [Turns 3, 4 and 5] - corners very similar to the Japanese circuit of Suzuka - look a real technical challenge, so I think it’s going to be an interesting one for the drivers to have to learn on Friday - and for the teams to balance their programme with that.”
With two rounds of the 2012 season remaining, McLaren have no chance of overhauling Red Bull at the top of the team standings, but with second-placed Ferrari just 22 points ahead they will be chasing hard for the victory in Austin.
“I expect to see the usual suspects up the front,” added Neale. “Clearly it’s a very close-fought championship, and with some pretty tantalising battles up and down the grid, whether you’re in the midfield or at the rear and fighting for those very important Grand Prix places. But yes, we hope - and our desire is - to do really well and to win the race.”