McLaren is set to debut a new nose for the first F1 race of the season on European soil in Barcelona this weekend.

The team ran the new part during the final day of testing in Mugello last week and is now set to introduce it onto the MP4-27 for the Spanish Grand Prix in an effort to find more performance from the car.

While it won't be a stepped design as seen on rival cars, the nose is higher at the front than the one used for the races in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain.

"You will see it in Barcelona and for the race engineers and for the race drivers it'll be the first time they experience it," team boss Martin Whitmarsh revealed during the latest Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "They've got the data to set it up and find performance on the track. There is a reasonable chance you will see it on Sunday."

Admitting that designs elsewhere had played a part in the decision to change the nose, Whitmarsh added that the higher design was only one part of the changes being introduced to the front of the car.

"If you look at the detail a bit, the height of the front of the nose is one of the more minor pieces of that new front wing assembly," he said. "So there are a range of things. Nowadays in Formula 1 the incremental improvements are generally modest and typically you are looking at the aerodynamic performance through corners. In the case of front wing and the nose, there's the attachment pylons - which you may have noticed are quite a lot different - and then the wing's flap and end plates themselves there are all subtle differences. You're managing the airflow that is enjoyed by the rest of the aerodynamic-generating surfaces and features of the car.

"It's nowadays quite a critical part of the car - you're looking to find very small improvements. There's a lot of restrictions and prescription around the end of the car, so you can often generate more performance by managing the flow that arrives at them than developing them themselves. Clearly it was really a data gathering that's given our engineers a lot of information and you will see it in Barcelona."

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton both missed the Mugello test, meaning neither has experience of running the new part.