McLaren Vows to Surprise Rivals in Australia

Not many people would put a wager on McLaren Mercedes for the 2011 Australian Grand Prix based on the performances shown by their MP4-26 racer in recent testing. Added both Lewis Hamilton's and Jenson Button's distrust of their cars before the season opening round and one would want to keep McLaren outside of their parlays.

However, the recent news coming from Woking suggests otherwise, as team principal Martin Whitmarsh told the media through a race preview for the Melbourne race that he expects the MP4-26 to provide the surprise next weekend.

Whitmarsh fended off allegations that the car will behave at Albert Park in a similar way it did in testing and said that his team holds all the right information to make the necessary adjustments for the race Down Under.

It's called testing for a reason - and testing MP4-26 beyond its limit has, in some ways, been highly instructive,” said the British official. “In actual fact, we've gathered a huge amount of useful data about the car, its handling characteristics and its management of the tires. So while we've further fine-tuned the package for Melbourne, we've once again set ourselves some extremely tough targets for this opening race weekend.

In a recent report issued by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, it has been shown that the McLaren MP4-26 has enjoyed the least mileage in 2011 pre-season testing (with the sole exception of the unraced HRT F111). Additionally, the car encountered several reliability problems throughout the winter. However, none of that seems to bother Whitmarsh.

Do I think our testing pace is representative of the pace we'll show in Australia? No. Do I think we head into the weekend as race favourites? Unfortunately, no. But do I feel that we have the capacity to surprise a few people and be competitive? Very much so,” he continued.
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