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Mat Coch writes:
Reliability may be a concern at McLaren but that hasn't stopped the Woking squad maintaining an aggressive approach heading in to this weekend's United States Grand Prix. Retirement in Abu Dhabi two weekends ago was a frustrating result for the team, Lewis Hamilton stopping from the lead with fuel pressure problems.
It was the second time this year Hamilton has been forced out of the lead of a Grand Prix because of a car failure, after a gearbox issue robbed him of what looked a certain victory in Singapore. In Italy a similar fuel pressure problem stopped teammate Jenson Button at mid-distance while collisions in Belgium and Korea for both McLaren drivers have cost the Woking squad heavily in the constructors' fight.
The team currently lies third in the championship, twenty-two points behind Ferrari and more than a hundred behind champions elect Red Bull. The reigning champions need just four points in order to secure their third consecutive constructors' crown.
However rather than focussing solely on improving its reliability McLaren has continued to push ahead with developments as the season approaches its climax.
"The failure that we had in Abu Dhabi was very painful," confessed McLaren's Managing Director Jonathan Neale during the latest Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In. "Having said that we've just done 1500 trouble free kilometres with the same car at the test last week.
"We're very mindful of the Constructors' Championship and we are still taking performance upgrades to this circuit and we're not talking an overly cautious approach but I'd say we're going to be very diligent."
This weekend poses new challenges for all the teams as they arrive at the Circuit of the America's for the first time. Most, McLaren included, have been busy on their simulators establishing a baseline setup for their cars, a process which has handed them all a first glimpse of the brand new venue.
"It's really lovely to go to a new circuit but this one in particular looks like it's been really well thought out," said Neale. "I've not physically been there but I've seen the simulations.
"The height change in the circuit and the way that some of the corners have been set up with some blind apexes I think is going to make for really exciting racing.
"The tightening set of corners (at the start of the lap) are very similar to the Esses of Suzuka," he said. "It's going to be an interesting one for the drivers to have to learn on Friday, for the teams to have to balance their engineering programs as well as allowing the drivers to come to grips with (the circuit). But we have the extra sets of tyres on Friday as well, which should help.
"Our desire is to do really well there and win the race," said Neale. "I hope it is a McLaren circuit!"
Lewis Hamilton won the last United States Grand Prix for McLaren in 2007 at the event's previous home in Indianapolis.
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