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McLaren: We can make up performance shortfall 13 Mar 2009

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-24. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Barcelona, Spain, 12 March 2009. Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 3 April 2009 (L to R): Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren with Norbert Haug (GER) Mercedes Sporting Director  and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren at the Mercedes safety driving school.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, Thursday, 17 July 2008 The car of Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 after he went into the gravel. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 11 March 2009.

McLaren have admitted that their 2009 car is unlikely to challenge for victory at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, following its lacklustre testing times in Spain this week. However, the team insists the MP4-24’s problems are fixable.

World champion Lewis Hamilton and team mate Heikki Kovalainen languished in the lower half of the timesheets throughout the four days at the Circuit de Catalunya, prompting the team to concede that they may not be competitive in time for Melbourne.

“This week the car has run in Barcelona with an updated aero package, as we had always planned it would, and a performance shortfall has been identified that we are now working hard to resolve," said team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

McLaren are now hoping that an additional test next week - a luxury most of their rivals don’t have - will allow them to pinpoint the downforce issues before the team departs their Woking base for the Albert Park race at the end of this month.

“We aim to continue to develop the car, and the result should be measurable on the stopwatch,” added Whitmarsh. “Will MP4-24 be as quick as we want it to be by March 29? Perhaps not. Will it be quicker than it has been this week at the Barcelona test? Yes. Will it improve as we develop its aero and thereby address its problems in the coming weeks and months? Most certainly."

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport’s Norbert Haug, who also saw his company’s engines top the Barcelona timesheet courtesy of Ross Brawn’s new team, echoed Whitmarsh’s comments, insisting McLaren are quite capable of coming from behind to challenge for the title.

"We have fixed problems together in the past and we will succeed in doing it again,” he said. “Expect us to fight back even if it takes some time. If we were not be capable of building competitive Formula One cars, we would not have won one third of all Grands Prix during the past four years."

McLaren’s final pre-season test runs from March 15-18 at Jerez in Spain.