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We can beat Alonso: McLaren

Alan Baldwin | July 11, 2005 20:09 IST

McLaren have warned Renault that they should not expect Formula One title favourite Fernando Alonso to win another race this season.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh told reporters after Juan Pablo Montoya's British Grand Prix success on Sunday that his team could realistically hope to sweep the board from Silverstone onwards.

"We could have won the last eight races, we can win every remaining race," he said.

"Both of our drivers, unquestionably at the moment, can beat Alonso and if we do that, and we have good reliability and they make a slip or two, then we're in there to win both championships.

"I'm not going to go and put my mortgage on it, yet, but I do believe we can do it. But it's not going to be easy," concluded Whitmarsh.

Alonso, second on Sunday, is 26 points clear in the drivers' standings with 77 to 51 for McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, who was third at Silverstone. There are eight races remaining.

Renault are 15 points clear of McLaren in the constructors' championship.

"Renault has been remarkably reliable, they've done a solid job. There's no-one other than us taking the points from Renault unfortunately, we could do with a few others up there," said Whitmarsh.

"The constructors' is probably an easier one than the drivers', but we can win it and we are there to win it."

FIRST WIN

While Sunday handed Colombian Montoya his first win for McLaren, Raikkonen is in the form of his life at the moment and has won three races this year.

Although all drivers generally dismiss the 'would have, could have' scenarios, Whitmarsh was correct in stating that McLaren have missed a string of opportunities.

Raikkonen could indeed have won the last eight races instead of just Spain, Monaco and Canada. He started on pole at Imola and led until being knocked out by a driveshaft failure.

At the Nuerburgring he led until the last lap when he was pitched out by a snapped suspension.

McLaren, like the six other Michelin teams, did not race at Indianapolis because of tyre safety fears and the Finn was then penalised 10 places on the grid in both France and Britain for blown engines.

Despite the latter two handicaps, he still managed to finish second and third respectively.

Raikkonen's big misfortune, and McLaren's frustration, has been that Alonso has always been there to take advantage of their failings. The Spaniard has won five times.

Only once this season has he made a major mistake, when he hit the wall in Canada, and -- Indianapolis aside -- the 23-year-old has not finished lower than fourth.

SPARKS FLYING

With Renault and McLaren clearly a cut above the other teams, a lot comes down to the performance of team mates.

While Alonso has only once this season been beaten by Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, Montoya could start taking points off Raikkonen after struggling with a shoulder injury in the earlier races.

McLaren say they would have no problem with that and are looking forward to the sparks flying.

"Kimi will be pretty fired up by this," said Whitmarsh. "They have a tremendous amount of respect for one another but they want to beat the hell out of each other.

"Kimi knows he's got to win so he will be absolutely fired up to go over and win that race (in Germany on July 24) .

"I think we're going to find also that Juan Pablo comes out of this race with a feeling of confidence and even higher self-belief that he ordinarily has."


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