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Whitmarsh: we're sticking with MP4-28
16 March 2013
Despite a depressingly poor start to the 2013 in F1 free practice on Friday in Australia, McLaren says that it isn't considering reverting to a version of their successful 2012 car and it is determined to continue working with the new MP4-28 model.
"I don't think any of us enjoyed yesterday at all," agreed team principal Martin Whitmarsh on Saturday morning. "We did some work overnight to try and improve the situation. In truth I don't know, [but] we hope and believe we have improved a bit."
Whether that was the case or not was difficult to tell, as both the free practice and qualifying sessions at Albert Park, Melbourne on Saturday were hit by rain, making proper evaluation impossible even for the teams with extensive telemetry to work from.
"It's serious because we are a front running team," said Whitmarsh when asked how concerned he was about the disappointing situation with the new 2013-spec car. "I think being frank about it, we don't have the car where it should or where we want it to be. We've been in these situations too many times before.
"We've got some data, not as much as we'd like, but we'll go away and work on that," he continued. "There is no magic, no secrets in F1, we've got to do the work, be disciplined and deliver performance," he said, adding that he thought that his two drivers "were an inspiration yesterday" with how they had tackled the disappointing situation with an ill-handling car and how they had managed to pull the team together.
"At the moment this car is too peaky in its performance so we certainly didn't get the best out of it yesterday," Whitmarsh continued. "I think it's more difficult to get the best out of it in these real-world conditions, and that's what we've got to work hard on."
McLaren were one of the few teams to go for a major change in design approach over the offseason, while the majority of other teams opted for 'evolutionary' car designs for 2013. Whitmarsh admitted that while it was possible to revert to the MP4-27 car that saw out the 2012 season, he wasn't in favour of that approach and felt that McLaren would be better off persevering to work and understand the new car.
"I think we've got to gather the data and I'm sure we can develop this car and the aim is to give ourselves the ability to develop this car throughout the whole year," he said.
"Probably if we had stuck with the original concept of last year's car we would be stronger here today," he conceded. "But we made a decision, we'll now work through this and I'm sure we have a car that has more potential than the one we had last year.
"That's the thing about F1 now, the season's incredibly long," he pointed out. "We are going to be racing until almost December so we've got to believe we can catch up with our competitors. I think there is no doubt that we can and we'll push every single race as we normally do and we'll find a way to get ourselves back into contention as soon as we can."
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