F1 News, Views and Reviews

McLaren Play Down Australian GP Chances

McLaren’s new team principal Martin Whitmarsh has seriously played down McLaren’s chances of getting on the podium of the Australian Grand Prix, let alone winning it.

Over the 2007 and 2008 seasons McLaren have experienced a resurgence to form under the helm of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, the latter now the reigning world champion.

However, the teams new car, the MP4-24 which is highly different due to the new rules, is causing them problems and has been seriously off the pace.  At times McLaren have been 3-4 seconds slower than the faster cars, Ferrari, Brawn, BMW and Toyota all have dialled down packages.

Despite some good form int eh last 2 days of testing, Whitmarsh still holds the opinion that his team is going nowhere fast.

“We go into the start of the 2009 season fully aware that we do not yet have the technical package that will allow our drivers to fight at the front,” said Whitmarsh in a team preview.

“In Formula 1, there is nowhere to hide: that’s what makes our sport so demanding and yet so endlessly fascinating.

“And as a team that goes grand prix racing with the expectation of winning races and challenging for world championships, we therefore go to Melbourne with realistic expectations.

“Nonetheless, we begin our season with huge determination to re-assert ourselves at the front and we will not rest for a moment until we have done that. Most importantly, we haven’t forgotten how to win.”

Hamilton himself admitted that things aren’t going well.

“[I don’t think] McLaren comes to Melbourne with the same prospects to challenge at the front that we experienced in both 2007 and ’08, but the whole team will be working tirelessly to help us move back to the front.”

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