Gary Paffett says development of McLaren's 2012 F1 challenger is 'going well', although he admits that the team will only be able to see where is stands when on-track action gets underway.
McLaren will launch the MP4-27 ahead of the opening test of the season in Jerez next month but will hope there is no repeat of 2011 – when extensive development of the MP4-26 failed to deliver results as the car proved to be off the pace and unreliable.
Speaking to GPUpdate
, Paffett said that last season had made it difficult to predict what might happen when testing gets underway, although the Briton said he was confident that things were going 'well' with the MP4-27 so far.
“It's always very difficult to say because we set ourselves targets to meet; but you can hit those targets and then get to the first test and be nowhere,” he said. “So we are pretty happy with how things are going, the progress has been good and we have obviously had the car in the simulator in various stages for many months now; we've got a pretty good representation of what it is going to be like and it feels good.
“So I think at the moment we are pretty happy, pretty positive and just waiting to get the car on-track to see where we are and where we can go forward. There is a lot of development still to be done but we are getting close to our first race package now, and then there are obviously the big updates for the European races - but it's all going well, I would say.”
Paffett added that he saw no reason why the new McLaren can't be right on the pace from the season opener in Melbourne and fight for victory in the Australian Grand Prix.
“I don't see why not,” he said. “We had a competitive car for pretty much all of 2011. Red Bull definitely had the pace over us for the majority of the season but, all the way up to the end of the season, we were pushing them very hard. So our plan is certainly to go out there and challenge for a race win in Melbourne.”