Martin Whitmarsh says that it’s impossible to predict the formbook for the Australian GP and beyond, and admits that McLaren has not had a straightforward winter testing season.
“In the days leading up to the Australian Grand Prix, it’s fair to say that every team member of every Formula 1 team is looking over the precipice, balancing their hopes and fears, their nerves tensed in anticipation for the long slog ahead,” said Whitmarsh. “It’s a tantalising prospect – and it’s one that keeps everyone who loves our sport coming back for more.
“At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we’ve faced a challenging few weeks prepping our new MP4-28 for the 2013 season. The often cold and sometimes wet conditions we experienced during pre-season testing in Barcelona and Jerez made it difficult to operate the tyres consistently within their optimal performance window.
“That issue, combined with a handful of typical testing setbacks, gave us a few headaches, but as ever our engineers and mechanics did extremely well to complete as much useful running as they did.
“But it was much the same for all the teams. As a result, anyone who says they already know in what order the cars will line up on the Albert Park starting grid on Sunday March 17th is a soothsayer of rare ability. Indeed, in truth, even after qualifying on Saturday March 16th, no Team Principal will be genuinely confident of his car’s race-spec performance relative to that of his principal opposition until the flag drops and the proverbial stops.”
Whitmarsh stressed that the real story will the development race over the course of the season.
“It’s important to remember that our MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design that we intend to develop aggressively throughout the year. Undoubtedly, it has great potential – and we fly to Melbourne determined to show well and to score points that should establish us in good stead for both the drivers’ and the constructors’ world championships.
“We’re still working tirelessly to bring more pace to the MP4-28’s performance envelope, and I believe we’ll arrive in Australia in decent shape. Having said that, we at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes never underestimate our competitors, and we’re certainly not underestimating them now.
“As I say, the MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design, and I have great confidence that our design, development and engineering teams will work tirelessly to shave tenths off its lap-times for Melbourne, and for Sao Paulo, and for everywhere in between.”