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.