McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh admits that the team pushed ‘over the limits’ in testing with the new MP4-26, and the resulting loss of mileage after failures proved expensive.
However he insists that the team learned a lot from the experience and that the car will be better in Australia that it has looked thus far.
“Over the winter, we set ourselves some extremely ambitious performance targets for MP4-26,” said Whitmarsh. “Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are an uncompromising team and, as with every car we build, we tend to push development to the limit. In some cases, we’ve pushed over those limits, and the resulting lack of mileage has invariably eaten into our pre-season preparation.
“However, it’s called testing for a reason – and testing MP4-26 beyond its limit has, in some ways, been highly instructive. In actual fact, we’ve gathered a huge amount of useful data about the car, its handling characteristics and its management of the tyres. So while we’ve further fine-tuned the package for Melbourne, we’ve once again set ourselves some extremely tough targets for this opening race weekend.”
Whitmarsh expects the car to be faster than expected: “So, do I think our testing pace is representative of the pace we’ll show in Australia? No. Do I think we head into the weekend as race favourites? Unfortunately, no. But do I feel that we have the capacity to surprise a few people and be competitive? Very much so.
“As with everything we do at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we never give up: we’re fighters – that’s the spirit that has won us 20 world championships in the past and which makes us a team you can never under-estimate.”