F1 » 2 February 2012
Whitmarsh: McLaren won't be sandbagging
Martin Whitmarsh admits that all teams have been flying blind with regard to their performance ahead of the 2012 F1 season - but expects testing to soon establish a pecking order.
Martin Whitmarsh has insisted that there will be no attempt to pull the wool over anyone's eyes when the latest McLaren hits the track for pre-season testing, pointing out that there are more important things to focus on.
Aware that the Woking team lost a major part of last year's pre-season chasing the 'octopus' exhaust concept that was ultimately abandoned on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, Whitmarsh said that, while he was aware that every team knew the potential of 'grandstanding' and 'sandbagging' to achieve various goals, McLaren would be paying more attention to making sure that its MP4-27 was ready to take on the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari.
"All the teams will develop their cars, I'm sure, so the car that's unveiled as they pull the cloth back will not be the car that's being used in Q1 in Australia, and there will be a greater evolution in some teams than others I would imagine," he pointed out, "Is there grandstanding and sandbagging? Yes. Do all of the teams do it? To varying degrees. We don't go out of our way to grandstand, as we've got a long-term serious programme.
"Inevitably, and we see it every year, a team that may be on the point of a new sponsorship deal appears to be very quick in some tests and then suddenly doesn't look quite so quick when it gets to the first race. It is so easy [to do] as the weight sensitivity of F1 cars is such that you can make a car artificially a second or two quicker if you need to.
"We don't do any of that, [although] we could be accused of sandbagging in that we try to hold back a little bit. But, again, we don't try and be too clever on ourselves. I think really testing for us is data gathering, it's allowing our engineers to start to work with the drivers, understand the car, feed back information here so that we can do
a better job of developing the car in the future, and allow the driver and the race engineers to be in a position that they can optimise it at the right time, which isn't during the winter tests, it's when we get to Q1 in Australia."
Like both his drivers, Whitmarsh was complimentary when it came to reviewing the look of the new MP4-27 as it was unveiled in Woking on Wednesday (1 February).
"It looks beautiful at the moment, but cars really do look beautiful if they win races," he commented, "And, you know, the beauty is more than skin deep. I think there's
tremendous engineering underneath. A lot of thought has gone into this car and, really, refinement. I'm sure it will look different when it gets to Australia. That's the nature
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