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McLaren pair believe experience crucial

NEWS STORY
24/09/2010

Mat Coch writes:

Currently second in the championship, five points behind Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton is confident McLaren will be on the pace come Sunday. Improvements to the car since Hungary have closed the gap, according Lewis and teammate Jenson Button, while they feel clarification on some key regulations have also levelled the playing field.

"If we'd come from Hungary straight to here we would have been destroyed," confessed Hamilton. "Since then we've made a lot of improvements to the car, and our understanding of what was wrong, and what we can make right. I think we've learned a lot over the last month or so.

"I think we are back on the pace but I think others have also backed up, that's why. They were ridiculously quick," he admitted.

"They [the FIA] changed the rules as you saw for the last couple of races and I think it's meant that they've lost a little bit of the advantage they may have had, or the drastic advantage they may have had, and then we have made steps forward, because it didn't affect us."

Similar in many respects to Monaco and Canada, Singapore's Marina Bay circuit is a twisting street circuit with low grip, which calls for a high downforce set-up. The 2008 World Champion, Hamilton is confident the team has made progress since Mark Webber dominated in the Principality for Red Bull.

"It is known that when they put more downforce on they've gone quicker," Lewis explained, "but in places like Hungary they had a lot of downforce but they were potentially gaining a huge amount from two particular parts: the front wing and the floor, the front bill. That's had to be changed, so they would have lost that advantage."

Boasting the two most recent World Champions, the McLaren team has title winning experience which rivals Red Bull don't have, and it is this experience that the British duo believe may be a key factor.

"Fernando has, I'm sure, no worries in his mind mentally - he's been there and done it before so he knows the pressures. The same would be true with Michael for example. Jenson's been there and experienced it, I've been there and experienced it.

"When you're doing it for your first time the pressure, it's your first attempt at dealing with that pressure, and if it does get to you then it's how you deal with that," explained Hamilton.

Button agrees, emphasising how he felt the pressure build to a crescendo at the end of his successful in 2009 campaign. "The last few races were tough last year. One, because I'd never been in that position before but also because we weren't as competitive as some other teams. That was difficult, because you start thinking to yourself 'you can give away one or two points here, maybe two points there, there points there'. As soon as you start thinking like that you've taken your eye off the ball.

"Mark's been in Formula One for a long time, which sometimes can be, one way it's good because you have the experience, you've been through many different situations and scenarios but it can also be a bad thing because you think to yourself 'well I've got a good car, I've got the experience of 10 years, but this could be my last chance to fight for the championship. I might not get a car again that's good enough to help me fight for the championship'. It's a tough position to be in.

"Not having the experience of winning a title with Sebastian, I don't know. They might be very strong in the head and it might be easy for them, but it wasn't for me at the end of last year."

Button enters the weekend in 4th place in the championship, trailing Webber by 22 points, while McLaren is just 3 point's adrift of Red Bull in the constructors' standings.

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