McLaren: Much more to come from MP4-29
10 March 2014 – McLaren has admitted that it will not be in a position to fight at the front of the field at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, but the team expects the MP4-29 to make sizeable gains throughout the season.
While the outfit's latest car clocked up the fourth highest total of miles over the course of pre-season testing, both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finished outside the top ten on the final Bahrain timesheets.
However, new Racing Director Eric Boullier reiterated that the priority was to deliver a "solid and reliable" car without the fundamental flaws of its predecessor, the MP4-28, before pushing to unlock its true performance.
"In terms of full performance, we're not there yet, but there's more to come: not least because there's a hunger and belief that's evident throughout the entire McLaren organisation," said Boullier, who joined in January.
"We won't go to Australia with the fastest car, but we will build, service and engineer it to the best of our considerable abilities – and then we will race it hard. Something this team has always done brilliantly."
Jenson Button, embarking on his fifth season with the Woking-based team, echoed Boullier's words.
"While there's plenty of potential within MP4-29, we still think it'll take a little time to unlock that promise," Button commented. "It's not quite where we'd like it to be, so I don't think we go to Melbourne with a package that accurately reflects our progress with the car – it'll take a little longer for that to become apparent.
"In general, this season is going to be all about continuous development. Our stated aim has always been to try and scoop up a useful haul of points from the opening races – by virtue of solid engineering and good reliability – and then to quickly refine and develop the package, and deliver further performance in due course.
Button, a three-time winner on the streets of Melbourne, concluded by explaining: "The MP4-29 has given us what the MP4-28 didn't – namely, a reliable and predictable platform upon which we can build and develop.
"In every respect, this year's car feels different to last year's, and that makes me excited."