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McLaren expect Ferrari fightback in Malaysia
March 17, 2008 13:08 IST
McLaren are bracing for a Ferrari [Images] fightback in Malaysia next weekend after the Formula One champions endured their worst start to a season in 16 years.
"It's not their true pace and we're under no illusions," McLaren boss Ron Dennis said after Sunday's incident-packed Australian race left his team's Italian rivals with just one point to their credit.
"They're a very competitive team, they're well run. We know they're going to be a very strong team in all the remaining races and we've got to be stronger than them," he told reporters.
"All we can do is try and stay focused on our own efforts and that is what we will do."
While McLaren's 23-year-old phenomenon Lewis Hamilton [Images] chalked up a pole-to-flag victory on an afternoon of searing heat and general mayhem, neither Ferrari made it to the chequered flag in Melbourne.
In a race with only seven cars still running at the finish, Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen [Images] picked up the single point after Honda's Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was disqualified from sixth place for a pit lane infringement.
Brazilian Felipe Massa [Images], who spun into a wall on the opening lap and was later involved in a collision with Red Bull's David Coulthard while trying to pass on the inside, retired long before.
It was the Maranello team's worst performance in a season-opening race since they drew a blank in the 1992 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami with France's [Images] Jean Alesi and Italian Ivan Capelli.
New Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali promised a root-and-branch inquest into what went wrong.
"There is not much to say about a disastrous start to the season," said the Italian in a team review of the afternoon.
"We did not work well on any level and this is the consequence of that.
"We know how important is reliability and we were severely lacking on this front. It is absolutely ages since we have seen two engine failures in a race. We have to look at every detail of this weekend to understand what went wrong and how we can improve," he added.
Malaysia is next on Sunday, allowing little time for recovery, and McLaren will be confident of further success after a one-two finish in the race last year with now departed Spaniard Fernando Alonso [Images] leading Hamilton across the line.
However Dennis, who will not be attending the Malaysian race, said it would take more than two Grands Prix to establish the true pecking order.
"I think even if in the next two races we maintain the competitiveness, the true strengths of everybody's cars will not be known until Barcelona [the Spanish Grand Prix on April 27]," he said.
"I think we have shown we have a very competitive car; our cars were very reliable through the weekend, so we will go to Malaysia with a very positive mood."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage