Whitmarsh says McLaren have the edge

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The Independent Online

Martin Whitmarsh believes his "battle-hardened" McLaren team hold the edge in this year's Formula One title fight.

Team principal Whitmarsh was all smiles following yesterday's one-two in the Canadian Grand Prix as his tactics paid off handsomely.

Whitmarsh's strategy led to a second successive one-two spearheaded by Lewis Hamilton as the Briton clinched the 13th victory of his F1 career, and second in three attempts in Montreal.

Hamilton is the new championship frontrunner, three points ahead of team-mate Jenson Button and six clear of Red Bull's Mark Webber, who finished fifth at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

With two drivers who have won the last two titles, and with a team that was involved in championship scraps that went down to the wire in 2007 and 2008, McLaren's experience is an undoubted weapon.

That is in stark contrast to a Red Bull team in their sixth season, and with two drivers in Webber and Sebastian Vettel who have never been at the sharp end of such an encounter, although the latter was in the reckoning until the penultimate race of last season.

"A lot of titles are won by making the most of opportunities, and we have won championships on that basis, and lost them by not doing so as well," said Whitmarsh.

"Adrian (Red Bull technical director Newey) has won some, so he has a fair bit of experience.

"But overall this team overall is pretty battle hardened. We've been through a lot of championship fights, so have both of our drivers and they know how tough it is.

"We probably have a bit more experience in our team than Red Bull Racing, and the drivers and this team are very determined to make sure we carry on winning races.

"But we don't underestimate Red Bull. They are going to come back strongly because they have not won a championship, and they are determined to do so.

"Ferrari is there as well, and at the moment you cannot rule out Mercedes, even though they have slipped back a little."

For Whitmarsh, it is the development race that holds the key to the destiny of both titles, with McLaren 22 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors' championship.

"We have to make sure we continue to develop the car," added Whitmarsh.

"We have an underlying development programme where we are trying to save 0.15 to 0.25 seconds every race, and if you do that in four races then that is one second.

"We have a reasonably big upgrade we are fighting to have for Silverstone (the British Grand Prix on July 11), and if that is there I would be disappointed if it is not a much bigger step than that.

"If we fail to develop the car we will get overhauled and beaten by more than just Red Bull.

"It is a classic case if we don't develop the car at a quick enough pace, we will not win races and we will not win this championship."