McLaren expect backlash

Dennis predicting Ferrari will come back stronger

Ron Dennis has warned his McLaren team not to relax after Sunday's dominant Australian GP victory as Ferrari will bounce back in the next few races.

While McLaren's Lewis Hamilton could do no wrong in Melbourne, Ferrari could do nothing right. Not only did Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa struggle to stay on track but reliability also proved to be an issue for the Scuderia.

Raikkonen suffered a fuel pressure problem during Saturday's qualifying that meant he started the Grand Prix from 15th place on the grid. His woes were compounded in Sunday's 58-lap race when his car came to a halt with an engine problem four laps from the chequered flag.

But while many were surprised by McLaren's dominant display and Ferrari's dismal one, McLaren team boss Dennis has warned that Ferrari will respond.


"I think every Grand Prix team experiences difficult weekends," the 60-year-old said. "They have got a lot of depth and we are under no illusions that they will come back and will be very competitive in Malaysia and the rest of the season.

"They had to compromise their race with things that happened on Saturday - we didn't see their true pace.

"I'm under no illusions that they are a very competitive team and they are going to be very strong in all the remaining races and we've got to be stronger than them.

"All we can do is try and stay focused on our own efforts and that is what we will do.

"In the end it is a good weekend for the team, and the most enjoyable part is our pace. We had a lot of pace, but we know the circuits coming up are going to be different.

"But I think we will be strong."


And although Dennis was delighted with the MP4-23's performance during the season-opening event, he concedes that the team will have to wait a few more races before the car's true place in the pecking order is revealed.

"I think even if the next two races we maintain the competitiveness, the true strengths of everybody's cars will not be known until Barcelona," he said. "Between now and then we are making cars faster."

The victory in Australia could not have come at a better time for Dennis with rumours about his future at McLaren refusing to die down.


In recent weeks reports have done the rounds claiming that Mercedes want him to step down in the wake of last year's spy scandal that saw McLaren handed a hefty fine by the FIA and thrown out of the 2007 Constructors' Championship. Dennis, though, insists he's not going anywhere.

Nor, he says, is he looking at Sunday's outcome as a moment of revenge against Ferrari for last year's troubles.

"A very wise person who gives me good counsel asked me a question on the startline and I did use the word revenge," he said.

"But what I said was that if you ever seek revenge, you had better dig two graves. For me, no emotion comes from the past, we are always looking forward. And victory is never about one person."

Dennis, incidentally, will not be in Malaysia next weekend - although he insists that nothing sinister should be read into his absence.

"I won't be in Malaysia. I am telling you now," Dennis added. "I have to be in England for something that I would rather not be in England for, but that is life. So it is nothing to do with F1.

"So when you don't see me in Malaysia, don't jump to conclusions - I will be at all the other races."