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2008 title fight put 'big two' behind
(GMM)  It is no coincidence that the two title protagonists of 2008 are now struggling to set the pace in formula one, according to McLaren and Ferrari.

They argue that, in fighting for the crown until the final corner of last season, they fell behind others in preparation for the sweeping rules changes of 2009.

McLaren has been open about its lack of race winning pace with the MP4-24, which is underdeveloped because the bulk of the team's resources was allocated to securing the drivers' title for Lewis Hamilton at the wheel of its predecessor.

"I can have some regrets about resource allocation but we are proud to have number one on the car," the reigning world champion said last weekend.

Meanwhile, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said on Tuesday that the Maranello marque is also "paying" for its efforts to win last year.

In contrast, non-2008 contenders like Toyota, Red Bull and Williams were able to turn their attention early to getting the most out of the 2009 regulations.

The furthest ahead is Brawn, who abandoned developing the 2008 (Honda) car almost as soon as it was born.

"Like McLaren we had to develop our (2008) machine right until the end, while others were already working on a completely different project many months prior," Montezemolo told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"You should not forget that this year's machines are not evolutions, which means that those who had extra time were really able to draw an advantage," the Italian said.

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