Somewhere inside the maelstrom of controversy that is the McLaren F1 organisation, a racing team is struggling to get out.
Next weekend the Grand Prix circus moves to Turkey, where last year Fernando Alonso finished second in the F1 race and Lewis Hamilton second in the GP2 contest. Both hope to go one better this year, while the team just has its fingers crossed that any clowns performing at this particular circus will not be dressed in McLaren silver.
After several weeks forced into firefighting mode on two fronts, the team is keen to put the spy scandal and driver warfare aside for a while and use August 26th’s race to prove it’s actually still rather good at sending fast-moving cars out onto racing tracks.
Team chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said: “Every single member of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team is keen to get back to the racing next weekend in Turkey.
“Each race weekend has its own challenges, we faced some fairly unique ones at the Hungarian Grand Prix and there has been much reportage in the press in the two weeks since; however none of this has affected the preparation and motivation of Fernando, Lewis and the team for this 12th round of the season.
“In Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart the work has been relentless as we seek to find the performance enhancements we know we have to achieve in order to continue our battle for both championships.”
Developments since Hungary have focused on aerodynamics and the cars’ suspension, according to a team statement that seeks to serve up slim pickings for sniffers-out of scandals by mainly talking about computational fluid dynamics, transporter trucks, and how much everyone loves the challenging Istanbul Park circuit.
Diplomatically, it gives top billing to double world champion Fernando Alonso, despite his second place in the season standings, noting that Turkey will see his 100th race start. The Spaniard expects the race to be tough on tyres and adds “I have come second in the two years we have raced here previously and I will be aiming to improve on that this time”.
Lewis Hamilton is, of course, making his F1 debut at the circuit. However, he remembers it well from GP2 and is already a signed-up member of the track’s driver fan club.
He said: “I have great memories of Istanbul Park, last year this was a defining race in the GP2 Championship for me and I am really looking forward to getting out there with the MP4-22.
“It is an amazing track to drive, with so many different challenges, and overtaking is possible. The circuit is pretty wide, which always helps when you are trying to pass. Having dropped down to the back of the field after spinning on the second lap last year, I spent the race working my way back up to second, it felt like a win and it would be great to get on the top step this year!
“It is a very physically demanding circuit, all the fast corners, such as turn eight which is awesome and flat out, and the heat place a big demand on the drivers. During the short summer break I have been keeping up with my training to ensure I am fully prepared for it. Along with the team, I am very motivated right now. There are six races remaining and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
The last word goes to Mercedes-Benz Motorsport’s VP Norbert Haug, who notes that “the race on 26th August will be held on a very demanding circuit, which requires a perfect car”.
And if victory also requires a perfect zen-like calmness, well, the team is clearly working on that too.