Neale talks up McLaren chances

Last Updated: 01/03/12 12:27pm

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McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale is confident the World Championship is "there for the taking" for the team this year in wake of their competitive pre-season showing.

The Woking-based outfit completed the second most laps of any team with their new 2012 car, the MP4-27, across the opening two tests last month with the majority of observers putting the team within striking distance of World Champions Red Bull on pace.

McLaren's fortunes so far this winter have been in stark contrast to the situation 12 months ago heading into the final test, when their then new machine had struggled for both reliability and pace.

But after recovering from their early problems to still win six races last season, Neale says the stronger start McLaren have already made to 2012 means ending Red Bull's championship-winning run is a realistic target.

"There were only three drivers that won multiple races last year - two of which were ours," he told Sky Sports News.

"We came second in the Constructors' Championship, we won races, both drivers won races - and good ones.

"So not the year perhaps that we wanted - certainly not the way we started - but we fought hard as a team with everybody and I'm really pleased with the outcome of that.

"This year I think we start in better shape, certainly. It's there for the taking; if we work hard enough and pull together as a team we should be aiming to win this championship."

Amid the team's quest to win the Constructors' Championship for the first time since 1998, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will again battle for intra-team supremacy on the track in the persuit of individual honours and Neale reiterated McLaren's policy of complete driver equality.

"We have set our policy out to have two number one drivers so we are bringing packages for both of them [to the car]," he said.

"They set the car up quite differently but they've got access to the same thinking, the same engineers and of course we share the data with that counter that we have in the middle of our garage.

"So we try to be transparent and honest -they're pretty demanding of us though, if they're not happy they'll certainly let us know pretty quickly."

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