The West McLaren-Mercedes team look set to debut their new car, the MP4-18, at the end of June, when the European Grand Prix, takes place at the Nurburgring, Germany.

Martin Whitmarsh, Managing Director, McLaren International, told BBC Radio Five Live: "There is a target to go racing [with the MP4-18] at the European Grand Prix but we will manage the risk by making the decision nearer the date."

"I think it's realistic and feasible, but it's early days yet," added Whitmarsh, "We've just started to run the car. Inevitably there are some teething problems, technical issues to be resolved.

"Fortunately so far they've been of the variety which are frustrating and annoying but they are not large dramas. We'll fight through those fairly quickly."

McLaren 'third' driver Alexander Wurz gave the new car its first shakedown this week at Paul Ricard, the Austrian completed around 50 laps.

Whitmarsh added: "Everyone involved in it really believes in it at the moment. In terms of technical risk I think it's greater than I've ever seen incorporated in the last 15 McLaren cars.

"Everyone has squeezed their heads and put every thought and idea they could into this project. I don't think anyone doubts that the car will be quick. But I also think there's an intuitive buzz in the company when they look at how extreme the car is and how expensive it looks."

He continued: "I think last year we made them [Ferraro] look better than they were in that Williams and ourselves underperformed. They did a good job last year but not an extraordinary job. They were beatable.

"They did do an extraordinary job on reliability. We've now got to put them under some pressure so they have to take more technical risk. But, encouragingly, whilst their new car - the F2003-GA - is clearly a very, very good car, it hasn't moved the game on significantly as far as we can see so far.

"Maybe in two races it's too early to say but it certainly doesn't appear to have been a big jump forward. We've got every expectation that we can make a step. We aim to give them a fight this year. Hopefully we can prevail. If we don't then we're going to be even stronger next year."