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McLaren seeking Silverstone revenge
Alan Baldwin |
July 04, 2005 12:27 IST
Championship leaders Renault fear McLaren could run away with next weekend's British Grand Prix, just as easily as their title favourite Fernando Alonso won in France on Sunday.
While Alonso celebrated his fifth win in 10 races, handing Renault their first French Grand Prix win as a constructor in 22 years, he was under no illusions about the looming threat from Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren.
"Silverstone is not a perfect place for us, to be honest," said the Spaniard, who stretched his Formula One lead over the Finn to 24 points with nine races remaining.
"It's one of the races we have with a red cross against it on our calendar because the car has not really gone well in the past there.
"We need to find some solutions this week and really try hard on Friday to set up the car and be competitive if we want to be on the podium which, at the moment, I think is our maximum target for next week."
Briton Jenson Button, who scored BAR's first points of the season with fourth place in France, agreed McLaren's pace looked ominous.
Raikkonen, winner of three races, roared from 13th on the grid to second place and also set the fastest lap.
"Aerodynamically, the McLaren is very strong and it (Silverstone) is a very big aero circuit," said Button.
"I think we'll see them just walking away with it at Silverstone which is a little bit disappointing but that's the way it is."
Renault increased their lead in the constructors' championship over McLaren to 18 points but the battle is still finely balanced.
Even if Alonso's lead is proving hard to erode, McLaren know their car is as fast if not faster than the Renault.
"We have the pace, that's the frustration," said McLaren boss Ron Dennis. "I am looking forward to next weekend, we were extremely strong in testing there.
"Right now we should be just taking the positives out of the day which is that we have tremendous pace.
"We would have liked to have won this time but we are looking forward to Silverstone -- it should be a great race."
HEAD TO HEAD
Although BAR are back in the black and Ferrari had Michael Schumacher in third place, the lesson from Magny-Cours is that the constructors' championship is becoming a Renault-McLaren head to head.
Ferrari, flattered by their bumper crop of points from the U.S. Grand Prix that the seven Michelin teams did not start due to tyre safety reasons, showed no great leap forward in France.
Raikkonen and Schumacher are the only drivers Alonso need worry too much about.
"There are a lot of races to go, but it is true that in every race the same drivers are in the podium positions," said Alonso.
"So I think that Kimi and Michael will be the main opponents in this last part of the season."
Schumacher, 29 points adrift of Alonso, looks like an outside bet but he refused to let go of the dream of an unprecedented eighth title.
"I guess if you take a calculator, take the number of races, the number of points available you can give it a percentage," the German said of his chances."I am not quick enough to calculate that for you now but that is the way I see it. As long as mathematically there is an opportunity, whatever the percentage, we go for it."