Vodafone McLaren Mercedes seeks a reboot to its 2013 Formula 1 season starting next week at China.
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh, stating the obvious, said the first two races of the season “fell below the high standards we’ve come to expect.” Still, with the break since Malaysia, Whitmarsh is optimistic the team has made the necessary car improvements to move higher up the grid.
“However, the three-week break between rounds two and three has been a useful one; we have been fully engaged in further developing our understanding of the MP4-28 and are confident of being able to implement a number of changes this weekend that will widen its operating window and, potentially, improve its performance,” Whitmarsh told Autosport.
Jenson Button has already said a championship charge is still possible despite the lackluster start, given he nearly scored a podium in Malaysia despite the car’s deficiencies.
“In a funny way, the Chinese Grand Prix almost feels like something of a reboot of the start of my season,” he said.
Both Button and Sergio Perez have a best finish of ninth in two races.
Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?
Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!
Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden
Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.
Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)
Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.
Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.
Follow: Jerry Bonkowski