McLaren aims to 'surprise' in Australia

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is adamant his team has the capacity to "surprise a few people" at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix despite its difficult winter testing

McLaren aims to 'surprise' in Australia

Whitmarsh, whose team was unable to cover as much mileage as it wanted during the winter, conceded McLaren is not arriving as favourites to win in Melbourne.

But he insisted the Woking-based squad cannot be written off.

"It's called testing for a reason - and testing MP4-26 beyond its limit has, in some ways, been highly instructive," said Whitmarsh in a team preview.

"In actual fact, we've gathered a huge amount of useful data about the car, its handling characteristics and its management of the tyres. So while we've further fine-tuned the package for Melbourne, we've once again set ourselves some extremely tough targets for this opening race weekend.

"So, do I think our testing pace is representative of the pace we'll show in Australia? No. Do I think we head into the weekend as race favourites? Unfortunately, no. But do I feel that we have the capacity to surprise a few people and be competitive? Very much so."

Lewis Hamilton is also upbeat about his prospects for the weekend, the Briton confident McLaren will be able to raise its game in comparison with testing.

"We can't hide the fact that testing has been tougher than we expected: our test mileage hasn't been as high as that of our rivals, nor have we had the outright pace of the fastest cars," he said.

"Still, I have a good feeling with MP4-26: I like driving our car, I think it will look after its tyres quite well and I understand that we'll be making further performance steps ahead of this opening race.

"Nevertheless, we know we go to Melbourne ready for battle: some teams are extremely well prepared - both from a pace and reliability point of view - but that can sometimes count for little in the unpredictable and somewhat chaotic opening races where it's equally vital just to take points home.

"I strongly believe that, while our preparations haven't gone as smoothly as we'd have liked, I get the impression that we'll be arriving in Melbourne with everything finally meshing together - and that makes me really excited."

Team-mate Jenson Button, the winner in Australia for the past two years, admitted he is not ruling out a third consecutive victory.

Button said: "Albert Park has been good to me: I've won there for the past two seasons; it's a great circuit for racing, it always seems to create unpredictable races and, perhaps because it's habitually at the start of the season when a precise pecking order has yet to be established, we often see fast cars running out of sequence - and the excitement that that brings. With the added issue of multiple tyre stops, it could be a very exciting and unpredictable race weekend.

"I'm regularly being asked if I can make it three wins in a row this year. On paper that might not look likely, but, seriously, who knows? I most definitely wouldn't rule it out."

shares
comments
Australia preview quotes: McLaren
Previous article

Australia preview quotes: McLaren

Next article

Australia preview quotes: Red Bull

Australia preview quotes: Red Bull
Load comments
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton Plus

The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a remarkable champion

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022