19 March 2013
'Be realistic,' warns McLaren team principal
Martin Whitmarsh fully expects McLaren to bounce back from their poor showing in Australia, but has said the team must be realistic in its expectations.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh expressed his confidence that the team would recover from what Whitmarsh himself had labelled as "one of the hardest days I can recall" over the weekend in Melbourne for the 2013 F1 Australian Grand Prix.
"I'm sure we'll get it right," he said, as the team headed off to Malaysia for the second race of the year in just five days time. But he warned that the recovery from a definite low point in the team's recent history wouldn't be immediate.
"We've got to be realistic," he counselled. "We might not get it right as quickly as I would like, but we'll see."
Jenson Button - who won the Australian GP in 2012 - could only manage ninth place on Sunday, while his new team mate Sergio Perez failed to complete his début event with the team in the points, ending up in 11th place at the line.
"It isn't good enough at the moment, and that's not a good feeling," agreed Whitmarsh, adding that problems during pre-season testing in Spain hadn't helped. "We struggled to have a proper understanding in testing, I think a lot of people did. Winter testing was very strange this year."
As a result, the McLaren team simply wasn't able to chase the right set-up for the Albert Part street circuit, a track that the team had already feared wouldn't suit the new MP4-28 car.
"We knew to an extent that this circuit would play to our weaknesses, and I think it certainly managed to do that," he admitted. "We didn't have enough of an understanding to fix it [but] I think we're gaining that. I think you've got to know what you're trying to do, you've got to understand what the problems are, and then you've got to work hard to fix it."
But time is not on McLaren's side, with the team flying straight to Kuala Lumpur for the second of the two back-to-back races kicking off the 2013 F1 season. That tight turnaround gives the team very little opportunity to hunt down solutions to their problems.
"I think we've got to be realistic about what can be done in the few days before we get there - it's a very different circuit of course," he said. "I hope that we won't be quite so far off the frontrunners in Malaysia, but I'm not promising that we will be with them either.
"I hope we can make some progress and we're going to be working incredibly hard in the next few days to do that," he promised.
One possibility that Whitmarsh has already dismissed is reverting to a revised version of the 2012 MP4-27 car while the problems with this year's model are investigated.
"It's not a serious option for Malaysia, no!" he laughed. "We've got to work hard on this car. We know it's got some areas of high potential, and we know that it's potentially got more downforce than last year's car.
"Sadly there's no magic, we've just got to work hard now and get it right," he insisted.
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