McLaren are remaining bullish about their championship hopes despite Sebastian Vettel’s scintillating start to the season according to technical director Paddy Lowe.
The former Williams man said the 2011 season still had a lot of mileage left to run.
“There are another 12 or 13 races to come,” Lowe said during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.
“The championship is still there for the taking. I think that we’ve been quicker than them in the last few races – in race trim. Our car’s actually outperforming them at that point of the weekend.
“We are very buoyed up by the race pace at both a close circuit like Monaco and at a circuit such as Spain, which at first looked very tough for us and very strong for Red Bull. To have the pace there in the race was very encouraging for us,” he said.
The McLaren MP4-26’s performances on race-days have recently been on a par with Red Bull.
In Spain Lewis Hamilton shadowed Vettel all the way to the flag and finished just six-tenths behind Vettel and at the last race in Monaco Jenson Button would have won but for a poor tyre strategy.
But McLaren have struggled to match the Red Bulls in qualifying. Hamilton was eight-tenths slower than pole-sitter Webber in Spain and still managed to challenge for victory on Sunday.
The Montreal track with its long straights is likely to suit the McLaren more with the team having won on three of its last five visits to Canada.
McLaren will have to start clawing back Vettel’s 61-point lead soon as they seek only a second constructors’ or drivers’ title this century.
Vettel’s run of five wins and a second place in the opening six races equals the best ever start to a F1 season set by Michael Schumacher for Benetton in 1994.
The German has won seven of the last eight races in total – a run stretching back to the Brazilian Grand Prix last year.