McLaren's Sam Michael admits their chances of winning the constructors' title are all but over

Only retirements can stop Red Bull now, Sporting Director says

By Mike Wise in New Delhi.   Last Updated: 28/10/12 8:09pm

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McLaren's Sam Michael admits that their chances in the Constructors' Championship are realistically over with three races left to run.

Following Sebastian Vettel's victory in the Indian Grand Prix, McLaren are in third place 91 points adrift of Red Bull - a gap Michael reckons can only be bridged if the defending champions are suddenly struck down by a spate of retirements.

Overhauling the 10-point gap to second-placed Ferrari is now the target for McLaren's Sporting Director after watching Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finish fourth and fifth respectively on Sunday.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso passed both McLaren's drivers in the early laps and eventually finished second after also getting ahead of Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber.

"It's pretty difficult for us to win the Championship now because Red Bull could wrap that up in the next race, the Constructors'. So our target is to at least make sure that we can get back up to second place in the next three races," Michael said.

"We're within 10 points of Ferrari, so that should be able to happen so long as we get everything right. But we'll have to start finishing higher up to achieve that."

Michael thinks Alonso's chances of overhauling Vettel's 13-point lead in the driver's standings are rather better, however, even with the step forward Red Bull have made in recent races.

"I'd say there's obviously more chance that Alonso can take the Drivers' Championship because he's closer in points," he said.

"For the (Constructors') Championship, that's quite different because they need to have DNFs for (other) people to take the Championship now. And the chances of that happening in the next three races are pretty slim, I'd say."

"For the Drivers', if they have a competitive car then obviously they can still do it."

Although Hamilton was bullish about his chances of victory in India, he made a slow start and was passed by both his team-mate and Alonso on the opening lap.

Both McLaren drivers found the going sluggish - as they had all weekend - on soft tyres early on but matters improved on the hard rubber towards the end of the race.

Hamilton chased down Webber, who struggled with KERS issues, while Button set the fastest lap in taking the chequered flag.

One feature of a fairly uneventful race was Hamilton's pit-stop, timed by his team at 3.1 seconds, during which McLaren also changed his steering wheel after it developed glitches.

Taking the positives from McLaren's weekend, Michael added: "Our pace on the hard tyres was good and all the bits and pieces that we had on the car worked this weekend - all the changes that we had.

"The pit stop was good. 3.1 seconds for the steering wheel change is pretty impressive."

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