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McLaren F-Duct car especially suited for Spain
McLaren MP4-25 with their innovative F-Duct
McLaren is confident its MP4-25 will be more suited to the Circuit de Catalunya circuit than recent predecessors have been, as the team looks to close the pace gap to the front on Formula 1’s return to Europe.

The Woking squad dominated the Spanish Grand Prix between 1998 and 2001 with Mika Hakkinen, and took a further victory there courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen in 2005, but in recent years has trailed rivals despite producing title-challenging cars in both 2007 and 2008.

The aerodynamically-demanding circuit tests a car’s performance in high-speed corners to the limit and McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh concedes this has not been one of his squad’s stronger areas over recent years.

However, he believes the MP4-25 represents a big step forward in this regard and thinks that this improvement, along with the introduction of a package of upgrades – including new front and rear wings – will allow it to close the performance gap it believes still remains to Red Bull and Ferrari.

“In recent years, we’ve produced successful cars with inherent performance characteristics that enable them to perform better in slower corners,” Whitmarsh acknowledged.” While we haven’t overlooked high-speed performance, it’s not typically been our strongest area – and that might explain our recent loss of form around Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

“For 2010, however, we feel we have a car that generally excels in high-speed corners, and while that in itself, isn’t enough to suggest a complete reversal of our recent fortunes in Spain, we feel that the useful upgrades we’re bringing to this race, which include new front and rear wings, will help us consolidate our position among the leaders and, hopefully, enable us to close the gap to the cars at the front.”

Despite not having the fastest outright car during the season’s opening four flyaway rounds, McLaren has returned to Europe in the lead of both championship races on the back of Jenson Button’s second tactically-inspired victory, and the team’s first 1-2 of the season, in China.

World champion Button, who has been holidaying in the Far East since his Shanghai victory, shares Whitmarsh’s confidence in the MP4-25’s high-speed potential and is therefore looking forward to next weekend’s action.

“The Spanish Grand Prix is a race I won last year, and I regard it as one of my best victories of the 2009 season,” he said.

“It’s a relatively high-speed circuit, and one that’s quite enjoyable to drive – provided your car is working properly.

“Fortunately, our car does seem to have a very good neutral balance in the high-speed corners – it’s probably the most impressive aspect of the car – and we went well during pre-season testing, so I think we go into this weekend feeling pretty well prepared.” ITvSport

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