McLaren is in a race against time to get its new Formula 1 car ready for the first 2014 test at Jerez.
Although the team plans to launch its new MP4-29 online next Friday (January 24), doubts have now emerged about whether or not the new car will be able to take part in the opening pre-season test.
AUTOSPORT understands that McLaren has not yet passed all the mandatory FIA crash tests - and there has been speculation that it may even have failed one or more tests, putting it behind schedule.
Under a regulation that came into force at the start of 2012, teams must pass the FIA's stringent crash tests before they are allowed to run on track.
Before 2012, teams only had to pass the tests prior to being allowed to compete in grands prix.
Although there is still time for McLaren to resubmit its car for homologation so it can make Jerez, the nature of crash tests mean there is no guarantee that it will pass.
Should the worst happen then the team would have no option but to delay its on-track appearance.
SPOTLIGHT ON MCLAREN AFTER DENNIS NEWS
When contacted by AUTOSPORT on Friday the team played down the significance of its crash test situation, but was unable to confirm that it would definitely be testing at Jerez.
A McLaren spokesman said: "At this time of the year it's normal for all teams to be pushing everything to the limit in an effort to extract the most performance, and crash tests are no different.
"McLaren will pass all the tests prior to track running."
The news about McLaren's new car situation comes just 24 hours after it was announced that Ron Dennis has been appointed as the group's CEO - replacing Martin Whitmarsh.
That dramatic development has cast doubts over the future of Whitmarsh as team principal.
It is unclear if the management change at the team is related to the crash test situation.