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McLaren promise quicker car for Germany
Alan Baldwin | July 09, 2007 16:34 IST
Hamilton, the 22-year-old Formula One championship leader, took his ninth podium finish in a row with third place on his British Grand Prix debut on Sunday while Spanish team mate and double world champion Alonso was second.
However, it was Ferrari's former McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen [Images] who again took the chequered flag to move up into third place overall, 18 points adrift of rookie Hamilton and six behind Alonso.
McLaren's attention now turns to testing at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium from Tuesday before engine partners Mercedes' home race at the Nuerburgring on July 22.
"We've got new aerodynamic components and various other parts we are putting on the car," the team's chief operating officer Martin Whitmarsh told Reuters.
"We will come out of that test with a quicker car, and Ferrari will undoubtedly improve their car. So it's down to who improves their car the most in the next fortnight.
"I predict that we are going to see the fortunes swing either way in what's going to be a classic and exciting championship," he added.
"We've now had nine races and 16 times we've had a car on the podium. That helps.
"It is so tight now in performance and reliability that any of us can trip up now and that would be very significant. If just one of your cars doesn't score points, then the pendulum swings very quickly," Whitmarsh said.
Hamilton was hard on himself after making costly errors on Sunday, most notably a mistake on his first pitstop when he almost set off while the car was still being refuelled.
"I think I need to step up my game, which I intend to do," declared the Briton, who had raised hopes with a flawless drive to pole position on Saturday.
The statement spoke volumes for the youngster's determination and focus, further evidence that he has no intention of resting on his already considerable laurels.
No rookie has made a start like his in Formula One and only one British driver, the late double champion Jim Clark, has ever put together nine podium finishes in a row and that was in his 1963 championship year.
Former champions Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost never managed such a run and nor did Jackie Stewart or Juan Manuel Fangio.
"I think it's a very telling thing to say. By any extraordinary measure, he's done a fantastic job," Whitmarsh added.
"We all have to raise our game. Winning world championships these days is tougher than it's ever been and we've got to produce a quicker car.
"It's extraordinary that Lewis feels like that but that's one of his great strengths. He knows the team's working very hard, he knows that we expect to have a quicker car at every successive race."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage