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Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 10:57 UK

McLaren target overtaking Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton wins in Singapore and reduces Ferrari's lead over McLaren
Lewis Hamilton's Singapore win cut Ferrari's lead over McLaren to three points

By Sean Chaney

McLaren are aiming to end the 2009 season on a high by snatching third place in the constructors' championship from old rivals Ferrari.

After Lewis Hamilton's win in Singapore on Sunday, McLaren are three points behind Ferrari with three races to go.

"We are not in the championship hunt but we are in the hunt for performance and understanding," said McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale.

"Not least because we would like to beat our colleagues at Ferrari."

While Ferrari have stopped developing their 2009 car and are focusing all their development efforts on next season, McLaren added a range of updates to their car in Singapore.

But Neale said he did not know whether they would be enough to make their car competitive at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.

McLaren's weakness this year has been on the sort of long, medium- and high-speed corners that abound at Suzuka.

Lewis Hamilton

Race was intense - Hamilton

Neale said the race would provide a useful gauge of McLaren's progress since Hamilton finished a lapped 12th at June's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which has similar characteristics to Suzuka.

"We don't expect to have an easy time in Japan by any means," Neale said, "but a mark of how far we have come this season will be a comparison between our performance this weekend versus the torturous time we had at Silverstone this year.

"The basic circuit characteristics are broadly the same. If you look at the average circuit speed at Suzuka it is up there with Silverstone.

"This year we have done well at the higher downforce and lower speed circuits like Hungary, Singapore and Valencia, so we are bracing ourselves a bit for a tougher fight this weekend.

"It will be interesting to see just how far we have come since Silverstone.

"But we know that there are one or two teams out there who, as you drop downforce, do run particularly well. The usual suspects will be up there in Japan I suspect."

606: DEBATE
wehateowls

Heading into Japan, McLaren have 59 points and Ferrari 62. Their nearest challengers are Toyota on 49.5 points.

Brawn can clinch the constructors' championship in Japan if they score at least 7.5 points more than second-placed Red Bull.

And Brawn driver Jenson Button can win the drivers' title if he scores five points more than team-mate Rubens Barrichello.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is the only other drivers still in with a mathematical chance of winning the championship.

But he is 25 points behind Button with only 30 remaining and must out-score the Englishman by six points in Japan if he is to keep his slim hopes alive

The characteristics of the Suzuka track are expected to suit the Red Bull car, and Brawn are expecting to struggle - insiders are predicting their team will struggle to score more than a handful of points.



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see also
Singapore Grand Prix race results
14 Sep 09 |  Results
Positive Button eyes Japan chance
27 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
'Stupid' Rosberg sorry for error
27 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Singapore GP as it happened
27 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Singapore Grand Prix photos
27 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton on top as Button toils
26 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Ecclestone sends Donington threat
26 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel heads Alonso in practice
25 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
F1 returns to scene of the crime
24 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari cast doubt over Raikkonen
23 Sep 09 |  Formula 1


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