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  Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
McLaren put wins before title
David Coulthard in the McLaren at the US Grand Prix
The McLaren is seen as the second best chassis of 2002

McLaren have admitted that they may be writing off their chances of winning the 2003 world championship by starting next season with an updated version of this year's car.

But McLaren technical director Adrian Newey said that the team would rather be competitive for the majority of the season than spend another year struggling behind Ferrari.

McLaren have decided to start 2003 with a modified version of this year's MP4-17 and introduce the new MP4-18 when it is ready.

The decision has been influenced by the time it will take engine partner Mercedes to prepare an all-new engine for next year.


It will be extremely difficult win the championship - but let's try to be absolutely competitive as soon as we can
Adrian Newey
Technical director, McLaren

Newey told BBC Sport Online: "It [the new engine] will not be ready in time for the start of the season - or not soon enough to be sure we have had enough time to be happy with reliability.

"So we have decided to take advantage of that when it comes to making decisions about the design of the new car."

Running the MP4-18 in the first races of the year with the 2002 engine would have required changes that would have slowed it down when the new V10 came on stream, Newey said.

He added: "What this says is that we want to go about winning individual races.

"It means it will be extremely difficult to win the championship, but let's try to get some points early in the season and then be absolutely competitive as soon as we can."

Newey said that McLaren would rather be battling for victories on a regular basis for 12 or 13 races than face another season trailing way behind Ferrari.

McLaren technical director Adrian Newey
Newey is fed up with trailing behind the Ferraris

The new car is scheduled to makes its debut at the fourth race of the season, the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola

But he said: "It's an ambitious programme, and we will introduce it when we have got to a level of reliability that we're happy with."

Newey said he was encouraged by signs of progress on engine development, which has been widely regarded as McLaren-Mercedes' Achilles heel for the last two years.

"Unfortunately, progress has been rather stagnant, but there seems to be momentum to the development programme now," he said.

This year's McLaren is regarded as the second best chassis in F1 behind the Ferrari, but it has been held back by its engine and Michelin tyres.

Newey said that next year's car would evolve out of this year's, and not be a radical departure.

"Radical is a greatly abused word. Certainly if you look at the Ferrari there is nothing radical about it, it is just a nicely evolved design."

In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

Race statistics

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News

Jonathan Legard

F1 2002
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