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Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Wednesday, 6 October 2010 12:56 UK

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton 'still in title hunt'

McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button
Hamilton (left) and Button (right) are both former world champions

By Julian Shea

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says they are putting "everything and the kitchen sink" into keeping their drivers in the world title race.

With four races left Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button lie third and fifth but Neale feels the season is still alive.

"We're throwing everything and the kitchen sink at it," he said.

"Ferrari and Red Bull will be pushing very hard and we're doing the same. We expect to be competing and winning some of these races."

Speaking in a McLaren conference call ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, Neale said they were "running on the lean edge of what we've got" and would do whatever they could to ensure their drivers had the best car possible at the next race.

606: DEBATE
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"If we can pull a modification forward, even if we just had limited components I'd rather have the ability for them to have a fraction of a second faster lap time rather than play until we have a set of spare components," he said.

But Neale said the modifications they had introduced to the car at the last race in Singapore had given them reason to be optimistic about the rest of the season - and there would be more on display in Japan.

"I hope all the upgrades make a big difference, we're taking a reasonable size package to Japan, we've got a front wing upgrade and a new rear wing, and there are some aerodynamic details.

"I think what we've got is a big test package for Friday, then we'll have a better position what we can run in anger - we're taking everything from Singapore and more to Japan."

Hamilton's chances have suffered a major setback because of his failure to finish either of the last two races, both times because of collisions.

Neale said drivers had their part to play by avoiding errors, but he did not expect or want Hamilton to curb his driving instincts.

Lewis is a force of nature - given half an opportunity, he'll race hard, that's what makes him the man he is and why he's such a great driver

Jonathan Neale

"What we've got to do is keep shifting the odds in our favour by working tirelessly to make sure the car is bullet-proof reliable," he said.

"The drivers have got to not make mistakes and to hold their nerve - it could go any way.

"It's unfortunate what has happened and that Lewis has made contact.

"Lewis is a force of nature - given half an opportunity, he'll race hard, that's what makes him the man he is and why he's such a great driver.

"If he has the pace and you see him in the mirror, he'll have a go.

"I don't think it's in his instinct to play a percentage game but he's a learning animal and will take all of these things and weigh up the risks."



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see also
Title 'completely open' - Button
01 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
I will not alter style - Hamilton
29 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Title rivals call for cool heads
28 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
In-form Alonso lays down gauntlet
27 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Title could go to wire - Horner
27 Sep 10 |  Formula 1


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