McLaren gamble with 'dramatic' last-minute changes to the car

McLaren have had a major rethink of their car for Sunday's Formula One season opener in Australia and hope to gain a second a lap after disappointing form in testing, team boss Martin Whitmarsh said yesterday.

"I'm not satisfied with where the car was on reliability or performance in the tests," he said. "We have made some fairly dramatic changes, and those changes we'll see in Australia. There's some risk in that but I think it was the right thing to do and we're hoping that risk comes off and the car is a lot more competitive."

Whitmarsh said the former world champions, overall runners-up last year, had changed the floor of the MP4-26 car and the exhaust system to a new and simpler design that should prove more reliable.

McLaren won in Melbourne last year with Britain's 2009 world champion Jenson Button, whose hopes of a third successive Australian Grand Prix victory have receded as the car's problems became evident in testing at Spanish circuits.

Button has yet to do a race distance on a single day in the car due to problems with reliability. On his last day of testing in Barcelona before heading for Australia, he did 57 laps compared to Fernando Alonso's 141 in the Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton, the team's 2008 world champion, won at the Albert Park circuit in 2008 but has also said the car is some way off being a winner.

Champions Red Bull, with Australian Mark Webber and 23-year-old world champion Sebastian Vettel, and Ferrari start as favourites this time round.

"The exhaust systems have become quite extreme on quite a lot of the cars," explained Whitmarsh. "I think we in particular had a very extreme solution but they were not delivering, in my opinion, sufficient benefit for their complexity. We had some very creative ideas, some of which could have worked spectacularly well, but to work spectacularly well they had to be sufficiently durable to be raceable."

"Frankly, some of our solutions weren't and that's why I think we had to go back ... but I think in doing so we found some interesting performance. So we'll see. I think it will still be a challenging weekend but I'm hopeful that we'll put on more than a second in performance."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003