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McLaren Sporting Director Sam Michael expects the 2013 Formula 1 campaign to be a fiercely competitive affair, having witnessed a number of impressive performances throughout the trio of pre-season tests at Jerez and the Circuit de Catalunya.
Although Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez finished fifth and 15th in the combined standings for the final Barcelona test, Michael reiterated that times were not the focus for the Woking-based team and that most rivals will have masked their true potential.
"A large part of winter testing is taken up with methodically working through systems checks and verifying that the correlation between design and track is solid," he said. "That’s more important in modern F1 as track testing opportunities are so limited."
With Friday practice in Melbourne the next time the drivers will get the chance to drive, Michael can point to the unspectacular testing results of the Red Bulls as further evidence that gaining data about the Pirelli tyres was more important than outright pace.
As ever, this makes it almost impossible for the pecking order to be determined after the pre-season phase, but Michael insists that the mood at McLaren remains positive:
"We’re all really looking forward to the first race in Melbourne in two weeks – from the laptimes we’ve seen the season is going to be incredibly close!"
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