McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh insists that Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are 'raring to go' as preparations continue ahead of the launch of the team's 2012 challenger.
The MP4-27 is set to be launched next week ahead of the opening pre-season test of the year at Jerez, which gets underway on 7 February. There, Button will get the chance to sample the car first before handing it over to Hamilton, with the pair hopeful that it will be the car to challenge Red Bull for the title.
Speaking to the official F1 website, Whitmarsh said he was hopeful that there would be no repeat of the issues the team faced in testing last year – where the MP4-26 was off the pace – and added that both drivers were eager to get behind the wheel and start the pre-season programme.
“At this time of year, before testing has begun, you never know how well your car is going to perform relative to its principal opposition,” he said, “and I'm well aware that Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes AMG, as well as all the other teams, are working just as hard on their 2012 cars as we are. But, bearing in mind that unknown variable - in other words the performance of our competitors' cars - all I can say with any certainty is that the MP4-27 is a logical evolution of the MP4-26, adapted to the new technical regulations, and that from what we can discern its development is going in the right direction.
“As you'd expect, with pre-season testing as restricted as it is nowadays, our race drivers will be doing as much as they can. Both Jenson and Lewis will consequently be spending a lot of time in Spain over the next few weeks, and both of them are raring to go. We're fortunate that we have two world champions in our driver line-up - a claim that can be made by no other team - and McLaren's ethos has always been, and remains, to treat both its drivers as equal number-ones. That's what we've always done, that's what we'll do this year, and as long as I'm around that's what we'll always do.”
Having admitted on more than one occasion that second wasn't good enough last season, Whitmarsh again reiterated that there could only be one target for the team in 2012.
“Formula One people are an astonishingly motivated bunch, and McLaren people are even more driven than most,” he said. “McLaren has won 20 world championships in the 46 years it's been competing in Formula One, and that's a stupendous record by anyone's reckoning. Believe me, we fully intend to add to that tally.”