First off, McLaren's 2011-spec challenger was unveiled after the first test of the winter, on February 4, meaning that it couldn't enjoy any mileage in Valencia. Furthermore, while lacking pace in comparison with Red Bull and Ferrari, the MP4-26 encountered several reliability problems, starting with the exhaust system and ending with the car's hydraulics.
What those issued caused was a hampering of McLaren's testing programme in the off-season, leading to incredibly low mileage. A recent analysis made by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport shows that the McLaren MP4-26 did the fewest testing miles from all 2011 cars this winter, with the sole exception of Hispania's HRT F111 that is yet to make acquaintance to the track.
While rivals Ferrari are topping the reliability and mileage standings, with Red Bull in a close second place, McLaren has been beaten at the latter chapter even by Marussia Virgin and Team Lotus.
“I'm not going to lie. It's not the best way to go into the season,” admitted Jenson Button after the latest group test in Barcelona, during which the car again experienced a hydraulic leak. “We are a long way down on it (mileage) but there is no point getting negative about it and down at this point of the season,” he added.
Recently, Hamilton also admitted that the MP4-26 will not challenge for race wins early in the 2011 season, but expressed hopes that the team will find the cure later on.