McLaren make 'dramatic changes' for season opener

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 today.

"I'm not satisfied with where the car was on reliability or performance in the tests," he told reporters in a conference call.



"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," he added.



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," added the Briton.



"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."



  • Get to the point
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

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk