McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says his "battle-hardened" team is preparing to knuckle down for the big push it still needs to make if it is to beat Red Bull Racing to the World Championship this year.
Despite a second successive 1-2 finish for the team in the Canadian Grand Prix, which has seen the team and drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button move to the head of the championship standings, Whitmarsh says he is well aware that the title race remains totally open. He maintains that his team must keep up an aggressive development push – which could include fast-tracking a major update package for the MP4-25 for the team's home race at Silverstone next month – if it is not to lose its title momentum.
"We are quite a battle-hardened team," said Whitmarsh, whose team has won four races so far this year. "We have been through a lot of championship fights and we have probably gotten a bit more experience in our team than Red Bull Racing – but we don't underestimate them. They are going to come back strongly, for sure, and we have to make sure that we continue to develop the car.
"It is a classic case that if we don't develop the car at a quick-enough pace, then we will not win races and we will not win this championship. We have got an underlying development program, and we are trying to bring 0.15-0.25 of a second every race. If you do that upper end of the scale in four races, then that is one second.
"We won't stand still. We have a reasonably big upgrade that we are fighting to have for Silverstone, and if that is there then I would be disappointed if it is not a much bigger step than that. But I also expect, Red Bull Racing to fight back. They have not won a championship and they are determined to win one, and that will be tough. Ferrari is there as well and, at the moment, we should not underestimate Mercedes even though they have slipped back a little bit."
Whitmarsh believes it is the experience of his team that could well prove crucial when the heat of the title battle kicks in over the second half of the season.
"We've been through championship campaigns, so have both of our drivers, and they know how tough it is," he said. "The drivers and the team are very determined to make sure that we carry on winning races. We have to take it one race at a time. We've been delighted over the last two races, but we have to go to Valencia and try to capitalize on the form we have at the moment with the type of the circuit that Valencia is, and then make sure that we secure a decent step forward at Silverstone that helps us maintain the pace.
"If we don't, if we fail to develop the car, we will get overhauled and beaten by more than just Red Bull."
He also reckons that the team's experience was key in the tire choice it made in Canada that proved so crucial to its 1-2 finish.
"Some people underestimated the vulnerability of the prime tire and they believed from the data on Friday that it was the cure all against the option, and sure enough it wasn't. I think this result was really satisfying because we had pace and performance, and we outraced everyone. We got it right. Both drivers drove outstandingly, the team made the right decisions and we just looked for the gaps in the traffic. We popped them in there and I think we got each of those calls pretty much spot on where we wanted them to be.
"It was satisfying for the team. It is tense and, when you are doing it, anything can go wrong. In many ways the Turkey result was great, this was a particularly satisfying one. We had the pace and we outraced all the other teams, and both the drivers did a fantastic job."