McLaren is planning an aggressive assault on rivals Red Bull Racing in Spain this weekend after revealing that up to a dozen upgrades will feature on the MP4-26 at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The team is set to use a series of upgrades that had been planned for the Turkish Grand Prix a fortnight but were pulled at the last minute, while other upgrades which were due to run in Spain will also be trialled during Friday practice.
“The relentless pace of upgrades continues and we have a package of upgrades that we are taking to Spain,” engineering director Tim Goss said. “We take upgrades to every race. In total we have about ten or twelve upgrades, some of which will be noticeable from the outside and some of which are not noticeable.
“Our objective obviously is to win races and ultimately win championships, and to do that we need to close the gap on Red Bull and we just keep chipping away at the problem. We had a package for the Turkish Grand Prix that we took there - we are always trying to accelerate getting upgrades to the circuits as quickly as possible. And just prior to the Turkish Grand Prix we had a relatively minor issue, which meant I wasn't confident the upgrade would be durable so we pulled out of using it at the last minute.
“We will re-evaluate all of our upgrades on Friday in Spain and those that look good we'll take forward.”
Barcelona isn't often regarded as one of the more exciting races on the calendar, but Goss added that he expected that to change this time around thanks to a combination of the new Pirelli tyres and the Drag Reduction System.
In Spain, the DRS zone will run along the main start-finish straight and will be the longest used so far this season.
“DRS has made a dramatic difference to the races so far,” he said, “[but] it's not all down to DRS and the KERS hybrid. Quite clearly the tyres and the tyre life play quite a large part in creating the race spectacle that we've had. Also the fact teams and drivers are on different strategies means that you can get some quite dramatic changes towards the end of the race - for example, Lewis taking Sebastian Vettel at the end of the Chinese Grand Prix. You also have cases like at the Turkish Grand Prix with Webber and Alonso on similar strategies, following each other.
“In the past this might have led to a processional event, yet the two of them swapped places just as they managed to either look after their tyres a little better than their competitor or not. Most of us will be surprised if Spain is not an entertaining race. Tyre life and wear will play a large role in it, DRS will help. I think, for me, one of the most encouraging things this season are all the overtakes that are not happening in the DRS zone.
“I think if that was the case it would be very predictable, but you get a lot of moves outside the zone, which is really making it quite exciting for the spectators.”