McLaren: Ferrari under real pressure

Autosport

McLaren believes that Fernando Alonso and Ferrari are now under real pressure in the championship battle, in the wake of his early exit from the Japanese Grand Prix.

Although Lewis Hamilton did not deliver the form he needed to challenge for the victory in Suzuka, he was still able to close the championship gap to Alonso down to 42 points thanks to his Spanish rival's second retirement of the season.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes there is still everything to play for in the title battle - even though he readily accepts that at the moment Red Bull poses more of a threat to Ferrari.

"I guess Fernando will be going home more unhappy than most," said Whitmarsh about the title battle. "He is under some real pressure, more pressure from Sebastian than us, but nonetheless we have closed that gap and we have got five races to go.

"This was not the most sterling performance from us this weekend I think, and in those situations you have to go back, look at the car and make sure that we get it as good as we can in Korea. Both guys are capable of winning races and we have five left to go."

Whitmarsh says that McLaren did not make the most of its opportunities in Japan, with Jenson Button's chances compromised by a gearbox penalty and Hamilton going the wrong way on set-up for qualifying.

"The Red Bull was the strongest car this weekend, all you have to do is look at what you are doing," he said. "We had a car that was capable of taking the second row this weekend, but Red Bull was quicker.

"We have to look at how we set the car up, how we worked, what developments we can make the characteristics of the coming circuits, and see if we can get back.

"We have had a quick car for quite a few races but we are in a development race, Red Bull looks strong, that is the challenge for us. But that is the challenge that we would like to respond to."

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