- British Grand Prix
McLaren plays down upgrade expectations
McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says he is uncertain whether the team's upgrade package will produce the desired results at Silverstone this weekend after an inconclusive straightline test in Spain.
"Like all tests, I would describe it as a curate's egg. Some bits went very well, some bits gave us some surprises," Neale told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.
"Of course it's straightline testing so it's not like a full test in the conventional sense as we used to get mid-season and do during the winter. Because of the limited time and limited mileage that we had, we weren't able to do a full set of old car/new car running, so we just gathered as much data as we could, went through all of the race prove-outs, so we know if the car will run sensibly behind the safety car, can we do an aborted grid start, will it look after itself in pitstops? So we mainly focused on the durability aspect as well as straightline performance measuring.
"I'm confident that we've got a reasonable performance step. Do I think we've got everything that we expected? Hard to tell at this stage, I'll wait to see what the race drivers think. So Friday will be a testing day for us."
When asked if the Silverstone upgrade put more pressure on McLaren to perform in front of an expectant home crowd, Neale remained guarded over his answer.
"Obviously a lot of teams upgraded their cars quite heavily last weekend [in Valencia]. We did try to pull forward a variety of packages that we had planned through to Germany. So at the moment I've got a range of things that I'd like to get to the circuit on Friday that we haven't built yet. So we're in that sort of fire-fight between now and Friday - just how much can we get there?
"But we're looking forward to it. It's going to be a close race, that we can confidently predict, and wide open again. Clearly Red Bull have done a good job at making a quick car so far this season, but Ferrari are also hard on our heels."
Neale added that if Friday's free practice sessions do not go according to plan, the team may decide not to run the upgrade for the remainder of the weekend.
"Yeah and I think that's something that all the teams are increasingly doing. You've seen a number of teams with complex projects, like blown diffusers or the F-duct for example, which are not just paper exercises - there's a lot of installation issues that you have to simultaneously work.
"We are ambitious, we'd like to take it this weekend and if the drivers think it's good it will stay on and we'll run it. If not, we'll continue to develop it."