Martin Whitmarsh aiming to keep McLaren momentum going at Singapore Grand Prix


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The Independent Online

Martin Whitmarsh has every confidence McLaren will not fluff their lines this weekend in a race he views more like “a Hollywood movie”.

The Singapore Grand Prix has become a showpiece event on the Formula One calendar, rivalling that of Monaco in terms of prestige, glamour and splendour.

As F1's only night race, and under the bright lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, the sport is maximised to its full potential.

Ahead of Sunday's race, McLaren team principal Whitmarsh said: "Since its arrival on the Formula One calendar back in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix has become one of the season's 'destination' races.

"It is one of the most important events of the year for fans, guests and teams alike.

"The Marina Bay circuit's unique night-time atmosphere, and the crackling tension that comes from staging a grand prix on the edge of darkness, makes it one of the best races of the season.

"And it's a race that perfectly symbolises modern Formula One. It's a brave departure from tradition that boldly works.

"It manages to retain all the traditional elements that makes a grand prix so magical.

"But the fusion of its oriental setting, glittering skyline and demanding high-speed course make it feel more like you're watching a Hollywood movie than an international sport, and that's fantastic."

After a run of three successive victories - two for Lewis Hamilton in Hungary and Italy sandwiching one for team-mate Jenson Button in Belgium - McLaren go into this year's race as favourites.

It is a tag they will have to justify to further close the gaps in both championships as Hamilton trails Fernando Alonso by 37 points in the drivers' standings and McLaren are 29 adrift of Red Bull in the constructors'.

Whitmarsh admits his team have momentum on their side, adding: "Both Jenson and Lewis' recent performances have given our engineers and designers the conviction to keep pushing development through the season.

"Make no mistake, this season is far from over, so there'll be no let-up with the aggressive development of the car until the end of the year.

"We are continuing to refine and improve our car and have both the drivers' and constructors' championships within our sights.

"Every race from now will be an important marker and I'm optimistic we can again score good points in Singapore this weekend."

According to technical director Sam Michael, the race is potentially make or break as a strong result at a challenging track like Marina Bay should ensure McLaren are firmly in the hunt at the following six races.

"Now is a critical point of the championship for us," Michael said.

"If we still have the same sort of advantage in Singapore as we had in the last two races, I would say we are in a really strong position to challenge.

"If RBR (Red Bull Racing) is quick again and on the front row with both cars, it doesn't mean we cannot win the championship, but it will be a tougher job."