McLaren believes it has addressed the reliability issues that hampered pre-season in time for this weekend’s Formula 1 curtain raiser in Australia.
The Woking operation completed the least mileage of all the teams over the two Barcelona tests after being struck by a series of issues with its MCL33.
Problems have arrived despite a much publicised switch from the unreliable Honda engines to Renault, which it had hoped would be a solution to the team’s pace deficit to its Mercedes and Ferrari powered opposition.
Racing director Eric Boullier admits testing had not gone to plan but is confident the team’s reliability concerns have been resolved, although he is keeping the team’s expectations in check.
“We didn’t have the reliability we had hoped for in winter testing, but all the issues we faced have since been addressed back at the factory,” said Boullier.
“There’s a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to ensure we leave no stone unturned in our quest to extract the maximum pace we can from our new package from the first race.”
“Melbourne is a venue that the whole team loves going back to, to kick off the new season.
“It’s a vibrant city, the fans are incredibly enthusiastic and there’s that palpable ‘back-to-school’ feeling of anticipation, where nobody really knows the form book until the lights go out on Sunday.
“We’re not expecting miracles to be worked overnight – far from it – but what we do know is that we’ll give it our all this weekend.”
Despite a troubled pre-season, Fernando Alonso says the MCL33 has potential.
The two-time F1 world champion ended testing with his best lap half a second shy of the pace setting Ferrari driven by Sebastian Vettel.
“Our car showed a lot of potential in winter testing and, although we know we still have a lot to work on, we’ve already learned a lot about the package and how all the new elements to this year’s car work together,” said Alonso.
“Australia is its first real test, and we need to work hard all weekend to bring all the ingredients together.
“Nobody can ever predict how other teams will perform at the first race of the season and that all contributes to the excitement.
“Melbourne is a great track and, after what feels like a long winter, I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Opening practice for the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix is scheduled for Friday at 1200 AEDT.