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McLaren targeting win at Italian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in Spa

Highlights - Hamilton wins in Belgium

By Sarah Holt

McLaren are confident Lewis Hamilton can defend his championship lead and challenge for victory at Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

The high-speed circuit with its long straights is expected to favour McLaren more than their title rivals Red Bull.

McLaren's chief engineer Tim Goss said: "Monza will be a strong circuit for us.

"We have a very aerodynamically efficient car so we think we have a good chance of occupying the front row and challenging for the race win."

Hamilton regained his championship lead from Red Bull's Mark Webber by winning the Belgian Grand Prix and now has a thee-point lead over his Australian rival.

Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button, who is 35 points off the pace in the world drivers' standings, was running in second before he was taken out in a collision with Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.

While the Spa circuit also played to McLaren's strengths, the team believe they have finally got the updates they introduced at Silverstone - notably their version of the exhaust-blown diffuser - to deliver a step forward in performance.

"We've been playing catch up on the blown diffuser and haven't been getting the most out of it on the longer, flowing corners," Goss added.

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"But in recent races we've really turned the tide and are actually getting to grips with setting the car up around it.

"We made some significant developments in Spa and hopefully they will carry us through not only to Monza but through the remaining circuits.

"I expect it to be a very tight grid [in Monza] but most people would say that Red Bull are unlikely to have a substantial advantage that they had in Hungary."

Monza's series of engine-sapping straights should also allow McLaren to deploy the F-duct aerodynamic aid, which increases the car's speed down the straights, to maximum effect.

The McLaren innovation has been copied by the majority of their rival teams, although some are undecided if they will run it this weekend despite its compatibility with the circuit.

"We'll be running the F-duct on Friday and then we'll make the decision on whether we'll race with it or go with a conventional rear-wing solution," Goss stated.

"It's not straightforward to get the F-duct to work on a low-downforce rear wing [which Monza requires] but being leaders in this technology we're slightly better placed to get the most out of it."

All teams will be subjected to more stringent load tests in Italy which are designed to ensure the cars meet stipulations on how much the cars' bodywork is allowed to flex.

The new tests were introduced after some teams queried Red Bull and Ferrari's front wings, which appeared to run very close to the ground at high speed.

McLaren said they have had to modify their car in order to ensure that they will pass this weekend's test which will investigate the flexibility of the front part of the diffuser, which sticks forward underneath the car's nose.

"A far as the bib [the front part of the diffuser] is concerned, the test is a little challenging and we've had to make some minor modifications to make sure we're well inside the deflection limits," Goss explained.

"I would expect most teams to have had to make changes to comply with that.

"We've not had to make any modifications to our front wings in terms of flexibility but the evidence from Spa was that there seemed to be fewer cars running more flexible wings."



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see also
Hamilton wins Belgian Grand Prix
29 Aug 10 |  Formula 1


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