McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says the team are fighting on two fronts as they work to improve the performance of the MP4-28.
“We managed to improve the car between Australia and Malaysia, we were closer on pace there,” said Neale during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “Taking the learning from that weekend we’re taking a number of upgrades [to China].”
Neale said some of the upgrades were “routine” while others were specifically in response to the setbacks the team have had with their new car. “I think we’ve got a lot of work to do on Friday as we learn more about the car and learn what if any of the upgrades that we’ve taken, works.”
“So it’ll be a very busy day for Sergio [Perez] and Jenson [Button].”
Neale said McLaren “know where the problems on the car lie” and he believes its ultimate potential can be realised. But he warned it will take more than a single change to unlocks its full capabilities:
“As always with a car there’s no one thing or one magic bullet. There are a number of things that will restore performance to the car and we believe we’ve got, underlying, a very good package. But it’s clearly not the performance we predicted.”
Button ran fifth in Malaysia before an error during his pit stop spoiled his race. Neale was cautious about taking Button’s performance as a sign of where the car is at the moment:
“I certainly think that the Malaysian circuit was more favourable to us,” he said. “We had more severe problems in Australia, we got the car set up better for Malaysia.”
“The whole grid was closer. If you look at the spread in the top five or six cars, the whole grid had bunched up. I think that the next two races we’ll probably see that spread out again.
“But nevertheless Jenson worked really hard to get himself into a good scoring position. But for a mechanical problem with the wheel gun he might have capitalised on that but unfortunately that wasn’t to be.
“We’re not under any illusions about the amount of work he have to do to get the pace back in this car. I don’t think it’s a question of just a small tweak.”
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Image ?é?® McLaren/Hoch Zwei