New McLaren racing director Eric Boullier might confirm that the Woking squad is not the fastest on track ahead of the 2014 F1 season opener in Melbourne, but insists that there is more to come as the year progresses.

Boullier's switch from Lotus, while widely expected, was only confirmed once testing got under way in the past seven weeks, and the Frenchman has gradually been getting to grips with his new surroundings, while all the time trying to balance preparations for Australia and the races beyond.

In contrast to 2013, McLaren has enjoyed a relatively stable pre-season and, while it has experienced the same sort of technical dramas that befell each of its rivals during the three sessions in Spain and Bahrain, the team heads 'down under' in a positive frame of mind.

"Our winter test preparations have been largely trouble-free," Boullier confirmed, "Our aim with the MP4-29 was to deliver a solid and reliable platform, which we can develop throughout the season. In terms of full performance, we're not there yet, but there's more to come: not least because there's a hunger and belief that's evident throughout the entire McLaren organisation.

"They won't go to Australia with the fastest car, but, as this team has always done, we will build, service and engineer it to the best of our considerable abilities and then we will race it hard - something this team has always done brilliantly."

As well as Boullier's arrival, McLaren also has a new face behind the wheel of its second car, after rookie Kevin Magnussen replaced Sergio Perez as team-mate to Jenson Button. The pair have proven well-matched in testing, and Boullier is confident that, particularly with a more competent car, both can be contenders for points and podiums.

"I think the relationship between Jenson and Kevin is very strong," he observed, "They've developed a shared trust, and their feedback has closely tallied, so our engineers have really benefited. Each has their own set of challenges going into this first race weekend, but I believe both will cope admirably, and the whole team will be there to help and support them.

"In fact, it's been fascinating to observe and learn how this team operates. I can see so much potential here - the facilities are second-to-none, and the people are hugely motivated - and we're all restless to make progress.

"This weekend looks set to be exciting, unpredictable and nerve-wracking - all in equal measure! Whether we have a race of endless incident, a procession, or a spate of mechanical retirements, I think we all go into this new era with the ambition and commitment to make it a great success."



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