McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh wasn't pulling his punches when asked for an assessment of the team's first day of action in the 2013 F1 world championship in Melbourne, Australia.
"It was one of the hardest days I can recall," Whitmarsh admitted after the two Friday free practice sessions at Albert Park. "We were lacking overall grip. We had understeer, poor ride.
"A very difficult day, one where we didn't go forward during the day, so that's a bit of a concern," he added. "There is a lot we still need to learn about this car. But we have struggled frankly to quite understand how it is performing - understanding the tyres and the car."
The team's lead driver Jenson Button
said that he agreed with Whitmarsh. "I think there is a lot of work to do, he said. "We've got to really work to understand why the car is the way it is in terms of ride and downforce."
Whitmarsh tried to put the obvious disappointment behind him, and looked for the silver lining to the thunder clouds gathering over his head.
"Having said that, we've collected a lot of data, and we'll be working extremely hard this evening and tonight in an effort to utilise that data in order to do whatever we can to effect improvements," he said.
"Moreover, you don't win world championships in the first Grand Prix of the year," he pointed out. "You win world championships by managing the progressive development of your car from its baseline in Australia in March all the way through its development journey towards its final destination, Brazil in November.
Sporting director Sam Michael admitted that the team was paying the price for an ambitious approach to the 2013 car, with the MP4-28 being one of the few cars on this years grid to go for a 'revolutionary' change on its predecessor, while the watchword of most of their rivals had been 'evolutionary'.
"Definitely, we are not where we need to be at this point in time," said Michael. "We made quite a few changes to the car over the winter, and we still believe they will be good for the course of the season.