21st of March 2013 Author: Glo Wood
McLaren have ruled out switching to last year's car as a radical measure to make amends after a slow start to the season. McLaren ended last year with the fastest car but their new car was more than two seconds off the pace at the Australian Grand Prix. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh still has confidence in the new car though and he thinks it should and will be faster. "All our efforts are currently focused on understanding this year's car, not considering last year's car," he said. "We believe we can fix those issues."
Jenson Button and Sergio Perez finished Sunday's Australian Grand Prix 9th and 11th respectively after starting 10th and 15th. In the qualifying session, Button made it into the top 10 with an impressive fourth-fastest lap in damp conditions. But in the dry part of qualifying he was a whole 2.95 seconds slower than Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel's pole position time.
Whitmarsh said: "At the moment we have to work hard on this car. We know it has got some areas of high potential and we know it has potentially more downforce than last year's car. We just need to understand it and make sure the performance is accessible. We have all had cars in the past that have been difficult to get performance out of, even though some of the downforce figures are quite impressive. This car seems to be difficult in that regard and we need to work on it, understand it and fix it."
Asked whether the team knew what the problems were, he said: "I think coming out of a weekend like this and saying the engineers are confident would probably be a bit strong. But we believe in what we can do as a team. I am sure we are going to get there. It probably won't get there as quickly as I would like it to, but I will be encouraging them to do so."
The next race of the Formula 1 season is the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend and the McLaren drivers are not among the favourites, at least according to the bookmakers: Jenson Button is 22/1 to win the race while Sergio Perez is 40/1. Here are the odds at Bet365 for the top five favourites:
Sebastian Vettel - 2/1
Kimi Raikkonen - 7/2
Fernando Alonso - 7/2
Lewis Hamilton - 10/1
Mark Webber - 14/1
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