Whitmarsh targets early 'cushion'
McLaren chief hopes team can make hay while rivals get up to speed
Last Updated: 23/03/12 11:50am
Martin Whitmarsh is hoping McLaren can take advantage of having hit the ground running with their MP4-27 and build a points "cushion" over their championship rivals in the early phase of the season.
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While the Woking-based outfit have emerged as the team to beat so far in 2012, perennial rivals Red Bull and McLaren are still searching for how to get the best out of their respective challengers, while Mercedes are yet to deliver on their W03's undoubted promise.
McLaren's one-three finish at last week's season-opening round saw them surge into an early lead in both Drivers' and Constructors' standings and Whitmarsh hopes they can go on and increase those early points advantages in the forthcoming races before the first inevitable slip-ups occur.
Speaking during The F1 Show in the Sepang paddock on Friday evening after seeing Lewis Hamilton set the pace in both practice sessions, the McLaren Team Principal said: "I think judging that [the status quo] on one race is a little bit premature, but you've got to maximise the number of points.
"Even the Ferraris and Red Bulls, they're still getting some good points, we've just got to make sure we're just building - I hope - a cushion.
"Then as the season progresses, we will make mistakes - we are going to try not to of course but things will happen, that's the nature of this sport - so the greater the cushion, the greater the buffer you've got, the more you can take those incidents in your stride and maintain a championship offence."
After starting the last two seasons behind Red Bull, McLaren have hit their target of starting the 2012 campaign with a winning car but Whitmarsh has cautioned against the team getting too far ahead of themselves after just one race.
"I think we've built a good car this year. Everyone's bunched up a little bit - it's very, very close - and again, I think we shouldn't get too carried away," he said.
"It's been one good result, we feel we're reasonably competitive here, but we need a few more good results before we start congratulating ourselves. We're not there yet."