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McLaren Team Principal says he is 'worried about the pace' of the MP4-28 chassis after the opening practice session for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, admitting that Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez are struggling for grip and have ride issues.
The Woking-based team has opted for a risky strategy by changing major aspects of its car over the winter break and, even though this approach should yield long-term benefits, Whitmarsh has described the opening practice day as a challenging one.
"I think we should be worried about the pace, it's a tough day at the office," Whitmarsh told Sky Sports. "We're lacking grip and have got poor ride. There's a lot of head scratching at the moment. As of today we are still undoubtedly struggling."
McLaren's Sporting Director, Sam Michael, has backed up Whitmarsh's concerns by stating that the team is 'not where we need to be' ahead of Sunday's season-opener.
"Definitely, we are not where we need to be at this point in time," Michael explained. "We made quite a few changes to the car over the winter, and we still believe they will be good for the course of the season. But we are still unoptimised in the areas we need to be, so we still have some work to do on the car. But it's a long season."
Button and Pérez finished ninth and 11th respectively in Friday afternoon's opening free practice session, over a second slower than pace-setter Sebastian Vettel.
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