McLaren is still determined to beat Ferrari to second in the constructors' championship even though Red Bull has wrapped up the teams' title, says McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.
Red Bull's 1-2 in Brazil put the constructors' crown beyond its rivals' reach, leaving Lewis Hamilton's long-shot drivers' title hopes as McLaren's only chance of taking a championship this year. Whitmarsh said that while giving Hamilton a chance of overhauling the 24-gap to Fernando Alonso was a priority, McLaren would also have an eye on the 32-point cushion it has over Ferrari in their battle for the constructors' runner-up spot.
"While it was deeply frustrating for every single one of us to finally be ruled out of the hunt for the constructors' championship in Brazil last weekend, we're all absolutely determined to hold on to second position, and to extend the gap over third-placed Ferrari," said Whitmarsh. "Both Jenson [Button] and Lewis drove absolutely superb races at Interlagos, and the reality is that another double-points finish would likely push us beyond the reach of our closest rivals.
"Even more importantly, we are still in the hunt for the drivers' championship with Lewis, albeit by the very narrow margin of a single point. Nonetheless, we all know that Lewis is a fearsome competitor and is absolutely fired-up to secure a second world title."
He added that with Hamilton's title hopes largely resting on problems hitting Alonso and the Red Bull drivers, McLaren would just do everything to ensure its driver had a perfect race so he could maximize his chances of a second title, even if that possibility now looked remote.
"Let's not forget that Lewis has gone into the final round of the season in the hunt for the title in three of his four Formula 1 seasons – a quite incredible record," said Whitmarsh. "And, knowing Lewis as I do, he will be absolutely determined to drive a relentless race in order to pressure his rivals as much as possible in order to maximize his position.
"For this final race, the team's role is simple: we must provide Lewis with the support he needs to sustain his title challenge – that will call for faultless reliability, a slick and decisive strategic plan and perfectly executed pit stops from his pit crew. It may sound like a long shot, but I'm absolutely convinced that Lewis, Jenson, and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, will all be players in what promises to be an absolutely enthralling World Championship showdown."