Formula 1 - McLaren vow to fight until bitter end

McLaren has vowed to push to the bitter end in the 2012 title race despite both its drivers effectively ruling themselves out of championship contention.

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Formula 1 - McLaren vow to fight until bitter end
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McLaren Formula One drivers Lewis Hamilton (R) and Jenson Button (L) of Britain (Reuters)

Sporting director Sam Michael says the team's goals remain unchanged despite its recent struggles coinciding with a resurgent Red Bull/Sebastian Vettel combination.

Before Singapore, three races back, Lewis Hamilton was second in the drivers' championship and McLaren was Red Bull's nearest challenger in the constructors' - positions which have both weakened across the last three grands prix.

Michael says winning all of the remaining four races remains the team's overall target.

"We're going to push to the end - our target at McLaren is to win every race, and we'll do our best to achieve that," Michael said during a Vodafone phone-in on Wednesday.

"Red Bull took quite a big step across Singapore and Suzuka, so they will be tough competitors, but our target is still to beat them.

"The gaps are very small now, so it only takes one or two tenths to swing from one way to another, and that can be driven off [one team's] development working, or another team not bringing enough.

"It will usually swing from one race to another.

"We do believe we can take the challenge to them; we are turning up trying to finish first and second in the last four races."

Michael also insisted McLaren would not slow its efforts in the development race, in part because next year's rules mean a lot of this year's car will transfer across.

"It's a pretty straightforward decision between 2012 and '13, because the rule changes for next year are quite small compared to what they would be for normal years," he explained.

"Most of the development work we do on this car will carry over anyway.

"Although there are different programmes, there is quite a lot of transfer so it is not that big of a decision to decide to continue developing the 2012 car.

"Our target is still to do as well as we can, and to achieve that we need the car.

"At this point we normally don't go into specific details, but we do have upgrades coming [for the next races]."

Michael also admitted that others designs down the F1 pitlane could provide inspiration for McLaren both in the final races and for next year's design.

"The development race is key to in-season performance, and the competition between McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari in terms of speed of upgrades has been fierce all year," he said.

"You need to be bringing 0.1-0.15 s on average to every grand prix just to stay competitive.

"Anything you bring above that you should start pulling away or making some ground on your main competitors.

"To achieve that you have your own internal ideas, but you gain inspiration from other cars as well: not just copying things, but understanding what they are up to."

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