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Whitmarsh denies conservative approach
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh denies that the team has been conservative with its new MP4-27.
After a difficult pre-season in 2011, McLaren developed the MP4-26 impressively to challenge Red Bull closely by the end of the season. As a result the new car is an evolution of the 2011 design, albeit with a number of refined components and adhering to the 2012 regulation changes. Whitmarsh, however, said that just because the car wasn't a radical redesign didn't mean the team had taken a conservative approach.
"I don't believe we've been inherently conservative," Whitmarsh said. "Inevitably there are a lot of creative brains out there that are trying to find a Eureka moment and extra performance. Sadly in F1, to some extent, those eureka moments are now very limited. Nowadays it is about refining every single part because there can be a 1% differentiation between the front to nearly the back of the grid - tiny, tiny fractions of performance that every small component in the car can influence.
"If you come up with something that can offer performance then you are going to chase it. I think this year we're not cautious, but I think we're finding the performance and we've set ourselves some tough targets, targets that, if we achieve, will allow us to win the world championship. We haven't reached those targets yet, but fortunately we're not at the first race yet. But the progress and the trend is towards meeting those targets and I think we will hit those targets."
Whitmarsh added that the team was being ambitious because it had no reference points for how competitive the car would be compared to its rivals.
"If we've set the right targets ... I think we will start to establish [that] when we get to Australia. Clearly with all the rule changes and all our competitors off our radar over the winter, we've been flying blind now for a few months. But that's the exciting thing, you have to set your own targets and our engineers have got to have their own moments of inspiration and then work hard to make this car competitive.
"I think we've set targets that we think are tough, but I think we'll get there. But it's not just about testing and the first race, you have to improve the car throughout the season to sustain a campaign these days, and I think that's something we are quite good at. I think if we have a competitive start to the year we can be in there for the fight for the championship."