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McLaren go a year without a win
Alan Baldwin | March 22, 2004 16:36 IST
McLaren may have to wait some time before they can be Formula One winners again, says team boss Ron Dennis.
The former champions reached an unwanted milestone in Malaysia at the weekend, a race that marked a year since their last success.
"I think it's going to take a little more than one race to get into a position of winning but we will get there," Dennis said.
"I take some encouragement from the weekend but one's got to be balanced. We're not here to come second, third or fourth. We're here to win.
"It's a bit of a mountain to climb, but we're climbing it."
Despite looking more competitive than they had in the Australian season-opener, the Mercedes-powered team left Sepang in fifth place in the championship with just four points from the first two races.
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, last year's championship runner-up, retired for the second race in a row 12 months on from his first win and McLaren's last.
Briton David Coulthard finished sixth, adding to his eighth place in Melbourne.
"It's still going to be tough for a couple of races," said Dennis."I think things will improve after that. We're hopeful of quite a bit coming on to the car for the Spanish Grand Prix.
"It's going to be tough until then but we'll just keep working away at it."
The Spanish round at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya is the fifth on the calendar on May 9.
Raikkonen ran third for much of Sunday's race before a transmission problem sidelined him and he was also fastest in practice on Friday.
That was more encouraging than the abject performance of Melbourne which ranked as McLaren's worst start to a season in a decade.
"I think it's a more encouraging performance but we're under no illusions," said Dennis, who recognised that McLaren had made a tactical error in Australia with their two-stop strategy. "There's quite a lot of work to do yet.
"I think there was a clear indication that most of the Ferrari performance or dominance in Australia was down to the tyres," he added after world champion Michael Schumacher chalked up his second successive win.
"They certainly have got a very good tyre and I think in cooler conditions they are going to be very difficult to match in respective tyre performance.
"But generally I think we got the car performing quite well through the weekend. It was a step."