Thursday, June 4, 2009

F1: Haug Says McLaren Title Talk Is Bizarre


MERCEDES-BENZ MOTORSPORT BOSS Norbert Haug has declared it would be “bizarre” for McLaren to consider the possibility of defending its World Championship.

While McLaren has managed to remain in the headlines throughout the season – albeit for the wrong reasons – on the track, the Woking-based outfit has found itself battling to remain relevant in race discussions.

The team has amassed a paltry 13 points from six races and find themselves fifth in the constructor’s championship, with the best result a fourth place finish by Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain.

Hamilton did appear set for a surprise podium finish in Australia only for the Briton to mistakenly allow Toyota’s Jarno Trulli past under yellow flags before he was disqualified for misleading a stewards inquiry.

In Monaco, a series of aero updates had Hamilton on course to challenge for pole position, but his chances were scuppered when the reigning World Champion ploughed his McLaren into a wall.

With Hamilton now 42 points behind championship leader Button, Haug believes McLaren should simply focus on making itself competitive.

He told Eurosport: “It would be bizarre to speak of defending our title. Why should we think about it when we are not competitive?”


Hamilton though is enthusiastic about the prospect of racing around the track at Istanbul Park in Turkey this weekend despite McLaren’s lack of pace around high-speed corners.

“I love the fact that it’s a new circuit that has really captured the flavour of some of the older, classic tracks – it’s got a bit of everything and is fantastic to drive,” he said.

“Also, as it’s anti-clockwise, it gives your neck a bit of a work-out – but you just need to make sure you’ve exercised the left side of your neck a little more than usual before getting in the car.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh however was cautious about the task facing his team in Turkey’s largest city, saying race setup will be crucial.

“We go to Turkey in the knowledge that the track characteristics are a bit less likely to suit our package than Monaco, but we are improving all the time, have several minor upgrades for the MP4-24 and look forward to assessing our competitiveness against our rivals,” he said.