McLaren grimace as BAR is raised

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Only three cars retired in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix. Two of them were McLaren-Mercedes. As the two Ferraris romped into the distance, the Team McLaren chief, Ron Dennis, also had to watch - in self-confessed pain - as the cars, not just of arch-rival BMW-Williams but upstarts Renault and BAR-Honda too, proved to have superior speed to his.

McLaren will recover because they are one of the world's finest race teams and have the technological nous. But not even Dennis can work miracles and he knows that it will take time. That is the way of Formula One.

It has also taken time - and a lot of money - to get BAR (British American Racing) anywhere near the front. When the former world champion Jacques Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock masterminded the purchase of the Tyrrell team from the late Ken Tyrrell in 1998 prior to entering as BAR in 1999, unconscionable amounts of Lucky Strike money were spent. Inevitably that meant poor decision-making and the team remained a pit lane joke until the Prodrive rally team founder, David Richards, and his managers took control in 2002.

There was not much to crow about that year either, but last season Richards signed Jenson Button from Renault, and was rewarded when his protégé led the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis before his Honda engine broke. On Sunday he was on the podium, in third place.

"It's great to be in a team that are building up, it's like one big family," Button said.

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