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Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 14:47 UK

McLaren not favouring Lewis Hamilton over Jenson Button

McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh delighted after British GP

By Sarah Holt

McLaren will not favour Lewis Hamilton over Jenson Button, despite Hamilton leading the championship from his team-mate at the season's halfway point.

When asked if McLaren regard Hamilton as their de facto number one, team boss Martin Whitmarsh said: "Not yet."

Ahead of the German race, Whitmarsh added: "I'm sure Jenson hasn't given way to Lewis's championship charge.

"He'll want to win this weekend, he'll want to move that momentum back in his favour - and that's how it should be."

Hamilton returns to Hockenheim on the back of a string of consistent results that have resulted in him picking up 86 points from a possible 100 in the last four races.

Victories in Istanbul and Montreal and two second-place finishes in Valencia and Silverstone have lifted him 12 points clear of Button at the top of the championship but Whitmarsh expects the reigning world champion to fight back.

"Jenson is second in the drivers' championship and has had two great wins this year," stated Whitmarsh.

"He's proven he's a great racing driver, a great reader of the race and also someone who can recover from 14th to fourth [at Silverstone] is a phenomenally quick and adept racing driver and someone who has a lot of determination.

"There is a good team spirit and everyone is working very hard - including the two drivers - to help the team achieve success."

There is a real prospect of McLaren closing the performance gap to Red Bull that opened up at Silverstone - but while still retaining its harmony and balance, not to mention a head start in the championship

Mark Hughes on F1

Red Bull have been defusing accusations of favouritism within their team after taking a new front wing off Mark Webber's car to give to Sebastian Vettel ahead of qualifying for the last race in Britain.

Despite the tensions, Red Bull remain McLaren's closest rivals in both championships. The team are 29 points adrift of McLaren in the constructor standings, while Webber is 17 points behind Hamilton.

Hockenheim's low-grip surface and slower corners do not necessarily play to Red Bull's strengths but Whitmarsh still expects them to be McLaren's main competition.

"Red Bull are very good in traction out of medium, high-speed corners particularly in qualifying mode," commented Whitmarsh.

"That's been their strength and they'll be strong [in Hockenheim], no doubt.

"Our car is very competitive on heavy fuel, the drivers are often able to make good progress at the beginning of a race and that's the balance at the moment.

"We've put a lot of effort into producing a car that is very quick during the races but generally we haven't qualified as well.

"We're working on that and intend to be quicker than anyone in the race and in qualifying."

With nine races left to go, Whitmarsh believes there is still time for more twists in the tale of both championships.

"I'd love to believe [it is a two-horse race between Red Bull and McLaren] but experience has told me you can't write Ferrari off," explained Whitmarsh.

"Ferrari are a strong team, they are technically capable and have fantastic resources and similarly Mercedes will be pushing hard.

"Red Bull are our principal challenge at the moment but I don't dismiss the others, it's too early to write them off.

Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - British GP qualifying (UK users only)

"We are in a reasonable position but we know we need to continue to develop the car apace if we're going to win both championships this year."

McLaren are planning to reintroduce a major update package in Germany after abandoning it at Silverstone.

The team rushed through their version of the exhaust blown diffuser - which increases downforce and therefore cornering speed - in Britain but took it off the cars after Friday practice, when Button described his car as "undriveable".

"We gathered some good information [from Silverstone]," added Whitmarsh.

"We go into Hockenheim with more information, we've made some modifications in light of that data and we will be running the blown on Friday.

"I suspect we will be having it on for the weekend. We'll make the call in the light of the data on Friday evening."

Any extra testing could be hampered by the wet weather forecast for Friday's first practice in Germany, which begins at 0900 BST.



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see also
Hamilton optimistic over upgrade
11 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton emerging as man to beat
13 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton's Oasis sing-a-long
13 Jul 10 |  Formula 1


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