Martin Whitmarsh admits that McLaren has 'taken risks' with its new car as the team prepares to give the new MP4-28 its race debut in Australia this weekend.
The team has elected to overhaul its car for the new season despite its 2012 challenger – the MP4-27 – being arguably the fastest car on track during the final stages of the campaign.
While last year's car was quick however, McLaren also endured its fair share of reliability issues and Whitmarsh admitted that an overhaul for 2013 was simply a risk that had to be taken as the team seeks to secure success in the year ahead.
“Clearly we've taken some risks in changing the car from last year,” he said in the most recent Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “We finished the 2012 season with undoubtedly the quickest car and it would have been very easy to have continued to develop that car - we'd have made it quicker still for the start of this year.
“Yet we've made a lot of changes to the overall package and we've done so in the belief that you have to be competitive over 19 races, and you've got to be able to develop it. We've given ourselves a platform that is new to ensure we've got a development opportunity over the course of the season.”
Whitmarsh added that the decision to pursue a new design rather than basing its car on the 2012 machine meant that it couldn't rule out reliability issues, although he said the team had to focus on pace and not get too wound up with reliability.
"You can never be as confident as you'd like to be with a new car," he said. "If it's stable and reliable, typically you want to push it further, make it quicker, lighter and more aerodynamic.
"We've been working hard with Mercedes-Benz on some of the issues we saw last year, and we've been working internally as well. We are constantly vigilant but we must not become so obsessed by the pursuit of reliability that we don't change the car to improve it."