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McLaren in 'decent shape' after testing 'headaches'
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh says McLaren faced a few "headaches" with the MP4-28 during testing after struggling to get the new Pirelli tyres working in the cool conditions.
This year's tyres have been developed with degradation in mind but have also been designed to operate in the warm temperatures expected throughout the season and not the cool conditions experienced in Spain over the last few weeks. During testing McLaren's Sergio Perez said the tyre's performance was only lasting for a handful of laps, making understanding the new car all the more difficult, and Whitmarsh has now added that it presented a few challenges.
"At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we've faced a challenging few weeks prepping our new MP4-28 for the 2013 season," Whitmarsh said. "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.
"In addition to that motor racing truism, 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."
However, Whitmarsh said he was not underestimating the potential of McLaren's rivals after such an inconclusive winter of testing.
"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 under-estimate our competitors, and we're certainly not under-estimating 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."