McLaren only expecting more incremental progress with MP4-28 at 2013 Canadian GP
Team to try more ideas on Friday as they seek 2013 breakthrough
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 05/06/13 5:30pm
McLaren can only expect to make further "small steps" with their MP4-28 at the Canadian GP, Sam Michael has conceded, after admitting they aren't yet making the rapid progress with the underperforming car they had hoped for.
Since the realisation midway through winter testing that their radically-different 2013 car wasn't going to start the season in as competitive shape as expected, McLaren have made incremental gains in their bid to return to the front of the field.
In terms of battling with their usual rivals, the last race in Monaco was the Woking team's most competitive yet, as Sergio Perez qualified seventh and Jenson Button finished sixth, and the team now head to Montreal where they have won on five of F1's last seven visits.
While hopes of a fourth straight Canadian win are likely to be faint, with Michael revealing their upgrade package for the weekend couldn't be described as "comprehensive", McLaren's Sporting Director nonetheless expects them to continue the process of closing down the gap to the leaders.
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"I would say that they're parts we're putting on the car to investigate different things rather than a comprehensive update - I wouldn't describe it as that," he said when asked to outline their Canadian developments in the latest Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.
"I would describe it as just small steps in the right direction. The last few small steps we've put on the car have worked and as long as we keep doing that we'll gradually keep moving towards the front."
Button's 23-second deficit to the race winner at the end of the Monaco GP was McLaren's smallest of the season so far but Michael was keen to stress that the street circuit, and the fact the leading cars generally ran at a controlled pace throughout, isn't the most accurate of guides to the formbook.
"Monaco's quite a special case. The car was good around there; it was good to see both of the cars fighting at least with the Ferraris and Lotuses," he added.
"When I say special case, [I mean] the true pace of all the cars at the front was controlled quite a lot because of the tyre saving that was going on, so it was always hard to see exactly where you were.
"Montreal is also a track that's been quite good for McLaren over the years and we've got some more things to investigate and try. We're developing the car, the car is getting better - not as fast as what we'd hope and not returning to form as quickly as we'd like - but the performance is still going in the right direction."
The prospect of rain, currently forecast for both Friday and Saturday in Montreal, may therefore theoretically present McLaren with their best chance of a first podium finish of 2013.
But while acknowledging the weather could well throw a "curve ball" into the weekend's proceedings, Michael added: "I think that [the chance to take advantage] applies to everyone really. The car has been good in the wet, the same as the other teams as well.
"We're not bothered if it's wet or dry from a qualifying or racing point of view. Obviously in the wet you can have some random incidents and the expectation of it being a bit of lottery in the wet, but it can go against you as well, so it's not a big factor for us."