Lewis Hamilton insists that he has no idea where McLaren will fit as the 2012 order becomes more clear cut over the course of this weekend.
“Although I’ve tested new tyres I’ve not been on lower fuel,” said Hamilton. “To see how we compare with others and how we extract that time is going to be interesting.
“I really, really don’t know. When I look at all the data on our long runs we look like we’re in the top three or four in terms of our long run pace and our degradation. Again I’ve not been on low fuel so I don’t know whether others were or how we compare to others, so really we’ll find out most probably on Saturday.
“I’m expecting Lotus to be quite quick and I’m expecting Red Bull to be quick, and I have a feeling that Mercedes will be very fast, and also Ferrari.”
Hamilton was keen to point out that he was not expecting to have a winning car from the start, despite promising form in testing.
“I’m not expecting anything. I would like that to be the case, but we can’t expect anything. Whatever the case we’re going to be working as hard as we can to get to the top, and do the best with what we have.
“It’s just the way it is. I think it would be silly to have any expectation and it would be silly to say we are definitely going to be on the front row, blah, blah, blah, because we might find out in the next couple of days we’re not the quickest, and look silly. And I really am not sure where we lie. But I think we are there or thereabouts.”
Intriguingly Hamilton said that the MP4-27 feels the same to drive as its predecessor.
“It’s exactly the same. The car is not a huge amount different compared to last year’s car – considering we lost a lot of downforce with the blown diffuser it’s not that big a difference. We still want more rear downforce, I’d love to have some of that downforce I had last year from the exhausts and the engine, but they’ve found it elsewhere.
“Now I think without the exhaust we’ve improved the foundation of the car, so it should mean that we have a better car for this season.”
Elaborating on the potential of the MP4-27, Lewis said: “The tyres have been improved this year so we have a little bit more grip. From what we’ve lost on the downforce side we’ve picked up a bit more from the tyres. I don’t think we are a long, long way from where we were last year on the whole downforce package.”