McLaren confident after tests

McLaren Racing's managing director Martin Whitmarsh believes that the early track debut of the new MP4-19 challenger gives it at least a three-week headstart over the Formula 1 opposition

McLaren confident after tests

David Coulthard broke the F1 lap record at Valencia just three days into the new car's testing programme, and Whitmarsh thinks that this extra testing time will give a perfect run-up to next March's Australian Grand Prix.

"It should be one of the benefits of this programme in that we are doing three full tests before the Christmas break," said Whitmarsh. "Another benefit is that we have already passed all our crash test requirements. Having passed these tests already means that running the car gives us the ability to put a lot of miles on it, get a lot of confidence in it and, yes, I do believe we can go to Melbourne in reasonably good shape."

Whitmarsh has revealed that the new car features a 'quick change' engine, despite the fact that next year's rules decree that only one engine per weekend can be used.

"There has been a big effort on the speed of changing an engine on the MP4-19," explained Whitmarsh. "You might question why would you put effort into enhancing engine change time, when any engine change is penalised? Well, the only thing that, prior to qualifying on Saturday, has to be consistent is the engine. Therefore if you have a problem with another part of the car and the driver jumps into the spare car, that constitutes an engine change, unless he jumps into a spare car which didn't have an engine.

"In other words take the engine out of the race car and place it in the spare car prior to parc ferme on Saturday and, if you can do that quickly, you avoid the penalty."

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