Martin Whitmarsh stressed again today that McLaren has to make the best out of the car it has at the track while its engineers continue to extract more performance back at the factory.
The team had a low-key Friday in Bahrain, with Jenson Button only 11th in FP2 having been sixth in the morning.
“We didn’t have the performance in the car that we wanted and Australia was a very hard weekend,” said Whitmarsh. “Clearly, there’s no testing, it’s quite difficult to make some progress, and these first four races come quickly, one after the other.
“Again today, every time the car leaves the garage it’s another experiment. We’ve been gathering data and we’ve been trying things. I think we’ve made a little bit of progress – never as much as I’d like, or as the drivers or the team would want.
“I think we’re gaining a little bit of performance, we’re gaining a little bit of understanding, but clearly there’s a big push for an upgrade package for Spain, and it’s important for all of us that we make good progress. But in the meanwhile, we’re racers, so those of us in the field we’ll take the car and do the best job we can with it, try to maximise the points we can get out of these first four races.”
Whitmarsh said it was too early to say it was impossible to win the championship.
“I think after three races or even after four races you don’t give up in these championships. I think Ferrari did an excellent job last year of showing all of us how you can turn it round and be there right at the end, capable of winning both championships.
“So, there are always big hills to climb and mountains of challenge but that’s why we come motor racing. At the moment we’re concentrating on understanding and improving the car. As soon as we make progress we’ll be trying to win races and as soon as we win races we’ll be thinking about championships.
“But at the moment clearly we’re focused on the here and now, and what’s the best we can do this weekend. It’s a tough circuit for us. This is clearly a rear-limited circuit. It’s a circuit where traction is important, and that’s been a deficiency in our car so far. We came here knowing it was going to be a tough weekend, but we’ll fight as hard as we can to get what are possible.”