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Neale: We are up for it

NEWS STORY
26/08/2010

Despite the fact that his team appears to be losing ground to Red Bull, McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale insists that the Woking outfit should not be written off just yet.

Looking ahead to this weekend's race at Spa, the Englishman, speaking in the latest Vodafone phone-in press conference, said: "We are up for it!

"I'm not sure if you sense it, but I think F1 is looking forward to going to Spa," he continued. "It is a great circuit, the drivers like racing there, it is very close at the top and we've got to fight back and that is what we are planning to do. It's is going to be a very close finish to the season and we want to win it as much as anybody so we'll just rise to the challenge."

However, while McLaren is just eight points behind Red Bull, the general consensus is that the Woking team is losing ground, much of this thought to be down to the Austrian outfit's aero package. This, in turn, has led to claims - thus far refuted by the FIA - that the Milton Keynes team is sailing close to the wind - if you'll forgive the pun - in terms of legality, particularly in terms of its (flexing) front wings.

While not wishing to create another scandal, Neale admits that he is puzzled by the efficiency of the RB6. "I've read all the trade magazines, I've seen all the footage on the FOM website and we cannot explain at McLaren why the cars operate in the way that they do," he admitted. "We know that ours doesn't but I'm sure that we've spent a lot of time looking at the car and trying to figure out what is going on. But that is really just speculation on our part, that's a discussion for the FIA and those teams to have.

"I presume, because Charlie (Whiting) has issued some clarifications for the coming race, that he has some level of disquiet about what is happening or maybe what is about to happen, which is why he's taken the action that he's done. We're working with the FIA and our first job this weekend is to make sure that our car complies fully with all the regulations, so that's what we are doing.

"It is no secret that when you have engine regulations that are largely fixed, the majority of your lap times are going to come from aero-dynamics so that is the area that all the teams are focusing on at the moment," he added. "Clearly with the regulations over the past couple of years, and the changes that have been made, there are far fewer devices on the car so everybody is working on floors, wings and details down the side of the car so we are going to continue on that vein.

"The coming races will be a straight development race as we knew they would be at the beginning of the year with so many drivers so close. It depends on what we can invent between now and the end of the season. Given our performance in Hungary, going back to circuits with similar characteristics would be concerning, but we're working very hard to do something about that. We expect an upgrade package for Singapore, and if the title race is as close as it is at the moment, we'll expect to be taking a development package to the last race."

Asked about media claims that his team will not use the F-duct device - which it pioneered - at Monza, Neale said that, as yet, no decision has been made. "We have the option to either run it or not and I think at the moment we are looking at all of the options," he said. "I think that it is incorrect to assume that we have made a decision as to whether we are or whether we're not removing it.

"We will have the choice and will watch carefully where the end-of-straight speeds come out during the Spa weekend. We will see how competitive we are and then make a decision in the following week. But the nice thing is we've got options."

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