Pressure on McLaren to up game for 2013

By on Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Photo credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Still among F1's grandee teams, there are signs McLaren needs to up its game if it wants to win its first title since 2008 in the near future.

Indeed, the British team is losing its last champion, Lewis Hamilton, to Mercedes next year, leaving Jenson Button as the senior driver.

But Button said in Abu Dhabi: "Since I've been here, this has been the worst year. It's been tricky, even on good weekends.

"We've had a problem pretty much every weekend lately. We need to stop it. I don't get it," he added.

"I'm not happy with where it is at the moment. But hopefully next year will be perfect."

On Sunday, pole sitter Hamilton's MP4-27 failed as he commandingly led in Abu Dhabi, but team boss Martin Whitmarsh blamed the problem on engine supplier Mercedes.

Hamilton, however, said there have also been "failures and issues with pitstops and so on".

"If my car was as reliable as Sebastian (Vettel)'s or Fernando (Alonso)'s I would be right up with them now," he insisted.

"Maybe ahead, who knows."

The man who will replace Hamilton at McLaren next year is Sergio Perez, who according to Whitmarsh earned the seat due to his "giant killing" performances for Sauber this year.

But since the Mexican's 2013 deal was announced, 22-year-old Perez's form has slipped dramatically.

Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn played down the link between Perez's recent struggle for points and his impending team switch, describing it as a "coincidence".

"There's nothing we can reproach him for because he's trying his best to do something good for the team before he leaves," she is quoted by the Independent.

"But we definitely will talk to him."

Indeed, Whitmarsh admitted there is no guarantee Perez will thrive once he is thrust under the spotlight at McLaren.

"There have been drivers who have talent, can live with that pressure and deliver, and others that can't," he said.

"It would be foolish of me to sit here and say that in taking a very young driver there is not an element of risk."

Button agreed, saying: "Obviously it's very difficult to know what he (Perez) brings to the team, because he's not there yet.

"With Lewis leaving, obviously the team loses a very fast driver. It is a big loss but things change and you move on and adapt.

"I think Sergio will be fast but I really don't know," he added.

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