McLaren: 'We can match Red Bull in the race'


27 October 2012 by Ryan Wood

McLaren are confident they have the race pace to challenge Red Bull in India on Sunday, despite the Woking duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button qualifying some three tenths slower than Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber who locked out the front-row.

Sporting director Sam Michael, speaking after the session, was bullish about their chances of keeping pace with the Red Bulls, but admitted overtaking them would be another matter.

"We think our race pace is the same as Red Bull," said Michael. "We are not slower than Red Bull, but we don't think we are quicker. So it means it is going to come down to the first lap.

"We think we can challenge [them]," he added. "The only thing is it is so close, when you get in the wake and lose your downforce all those factors come into play, so if Vettel managed to get away in first three or four laps, then it will be really difficult to catch up with him.

"If he does get away and maintains a three second gap, there is still a possibility to get him on strategy, but it will be pretty hard. All the signs from practice are that we can run with them but, when you get there and get in the wake, you lose 10-15% of your downforce and then you start falling off the back."