Martin Whitmarsh Promises More Improvements for the MP4-23

Adam PooleAnalyst ISeptember 30, 2008

In a bid to win this year's drivers' and constructors' championships, Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, has said they will continue to improve the MP4-23 right up until Brazil.

McLaren, who won their last drivers' title in 1999 and last constructors' title in '98, overtook their Italian rivals in the constructors' championship on Sunday at Singapore when a disaster filled night caused Massa to finish the race in 13th position.

With only three races left on this year's calendar, there is no doubt that both teams will be trying anything that can, legally, to "get one over" on their rivals.

Whitmarsh has stated that he is hoping to improve the car slightly over the next two races, with a big change for the final race of the season in Brazil. 

Speaking about usual practice, Martin said, "Ordinarily, the Singapore weekend would have been our last big upgrade package of the season, but we’ve now got an upgrade package focused on Brazil and will be looking to see whether we can pull any of those improvements forwards."

Martin continued to talk about the up-and-coming races. "There will still be little bits and pieces brought to the car for the two Asian races (Japan and China) but the package of upgrades won’t be as big as the one we brought to Singapore."

Many of us who saw the Singapore race saw Lewis Hamilton play a cautious game towards the end, and not do any of his risky, yet remarkable, driving maneuvers to try and secure second place from Nico Rosberg. 

The McLaren CEO believes this was the right choice as the championship standings are so close.  With Lewis Hamilton leading the championship by seven points now, he can finish second in all three of the remaining races with Massa finishing first, and still walk away with the title.

Talking about Lewis' cautious end to Sunday's race, Martin said, "With Lewis, the fact is, that when you’re fighting for a world championship, you’re necessarily more risk averse than those teams who feel more comfortable pushing for a strong result.

"While we take nothing away from the efforts of Renault and Williams, our evening’s work was tinted by the knowledge that neither Ferrari driver looked like scoring strongly.  We’d have looked pretty silly if we’d thrown Lewis’ points away by telling him to push like mad."

The first safety car episode started just as the regular "two-stoppers" were ready to come in to re-fuel. Two drivers, Nico Rosberg being one of them, had no other choice but to come in and face a 10-second stop and go penalty.

However, it took almost five laps for this penalty to be applied by race control, giving Rosberg the chance to get his foot down and create the gap needed, whilst the pit lane re-opened and Hamilton had to pit.

"What made the situation a bit more unfortunate for Lewis in Singapore was the time taken for the stop-go penalties to be applied to those drivers who had re-fuelled under the safety car," Whitmarsh said. He added "(But) to be fair to the stewards, they had a lot to think about at the time."

When asked if he could change anything about last weekend's night race, Martin replied, "With hindsight, I guess we could have brought Lewis in for fuel and tyres at the same time as Williams brought Nico in. Had we done so, Lewis would very possibly have won the race."