McLaren: We will rise to Red Bull's challenge insists Martin Whitmarsh


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The Independent Online

McLaren's team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, is confident they can respond to Red Bull's step forward in pace at this weekend's Korean Grand Prix.

Prior to last Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, McLaren had been the car to beat for four races in a row, but they were given a rude awakening as Red Bull dominated qualifying and the race itself. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could finish only fifth and fourth respectively and their title hopes are fading fast.

Hamilton is 42 points adrift of the championship leader, Fernando Alonso, and 38 behind the winner at Suzuka and new title favourite, Sebastian Vettel, with five races left. Button is 63 behind Alonso.

Whitmarsh said of Red Bull's challenge: "They looked good, it was the strongest car over the course of the weekend. We only had a car capable of the second row in qualifying because Red Bull were quicker.

"We need to look at the car, how we set it up, what developments we can make, the character of the coming circuits, and see if we can get back. We have had a quick car for a few races but we are in a development race. Red Bull look strong, that is the challenge for us. That is the kind of challenge we like to try and respond to."

Suzuka also saw Hamilton, who will join Mercedes next season, involved in a battle with his replacement at McLaren, Sergio Perez.

Hamilton called the Sauber driver's manoeuvres "crazy" but Whitmarsh was pleased by the Mexican's intent. "It shows we have someone who wants to go out there and race and challenge. There is a diamond that needs to be honed there and that is quite an interesting challenge."