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McLaren confident it can iron out errors with MP4-28
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has stressed the importance of ruling out mistakes and reliability issues this year and is confident the MP4-28, launched on Thursday, has addressed those issues.
McLaren started and finished last season with victories, but dipped in form during the middle of the year and suffered various reliability issues. The new car has some clear changes for 2013, such as pull-rod front suspension and a higher nose, but Whitmarsh insists it is an evolution and that the team has been focussed on building on the success it enjoyed towards the end of 2012.
"As people start to learn about this car they will see that there are quite a lot of changes to the car, but it is an evolution," he said. "There's been a tremendous effort on processes of design and development and reliability and looking at our processes of how we run the race team. It's very clear nowadays, particularly when you've got very stable regulations, that it's very unforgiving - if you don't score points then you quickly sit behind. Fernando [Alonso] and Ferrari maximised the points out of product that they had [in 2012] and we didn't. We've worked very hard on that this year and we are intent of putting that right."
Despite changes to the car from last year, Whitmarsh doubts any team will come up with a game-changing development with the rules remaining stable.
"With all our competitors off the radar screen there's always a possibility that there has been a eureka moment somewhere else, but it's less likely," he said. "Under these current regulations the cars are pretty well developed now and I think we are quite pleased with where we are with this car today. Undoubtedly this car will look different by the time we get to Barcelona and it will look different again by the time we get to Australia as we continue to move forwards with it."
But Whitmarsh is confident McLaren has made good performance gains over the winter.
"We finished last year with undoubtedly the quickest car and that sets the bar," he said. "We've got relatively consistent regulations, we continued to develop that car and we've undoubtedly found performance. In changing a lot of things on the car you step back, but the good news is that we've already stepped forward and this car is already quicker than the car that we finished the end of last year with and at the moment it has some very encouraging signs.
"Whether it be downforce or other parameters that affect performance, this car is responding very well. The drivers and engineers had a very deep technical review yesterday and you couldn't help coming out of that thinking we've got a competitive car."