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McLaren cautious on updates amid correlation concerns 08 May 2013

Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Jonathan Neale (GBR) McLaren Managing Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 8 June 2012 McLaren MP4-28 rear floor and exhaust exit detail on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28 leads Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013

McLaren are refusing to make any predictions about how much progress they can make in Spain this weekend, as they introduce a ‘significant’ number of updates to their troubled MP4-28 car. The Woking team, who came third in last year’s standings after winning seven Grands Prix, have yet to finish higher than fifth in 2013.

“The first European race will be one where everyone is bringing upgrades and our progress will be measured against our competitors,” said managing director Jonathan Neale in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “I think we’ll be cautious at this stage and say that a measure of our progress will be revealed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday when we get a chance to quantify what we’ve done.

“I’m pleased with the way things are working and I think we’ve done a lot of very diligent work. We’ve had a straight-line test as well to be able to validate some of the information, but we’ll be cautious at this stage until we know where we’re at. Some things will work, some things won’t.”

Adding to McLaren’s current woes is a correlation problem, not dissimilar to that experienced by Ferrari last season, with factory-produced development data failing to match up with that subsequently experienced on track. According to Neale, sorting this is among the team’s top priorities.

“Looking forward, I believe that it’s really important that we sort out the issues with the car and the correlation,” he said. “All the time you’ve got that lingering doubt as to what went wrong where or how do we fix it, you’ve always got the opportunity for it to arise again.”

As McLaren look to close the performance gap to the frontrunners, Neale also believes that Friday track time will be of critical importance, not just in Barcelona this weekend but at every Grand Prix for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do on Fridays as well,” he said. “I don’t see us being able to just run the car without a huge degree of upgrades at most Fridays between now and the summer. We’ll continue to work very hard at this.”

With just 23 points from the first four races of the season, McLaren’s title hopes may already look bleak. Neale, however, insisted it is too early to write off their championship chances and maintained that race victories are not out of the question.

“I think it’s really important that we return to winning ways and that’s what our plan is,” he said. “As for the championship, that’s a long way out at the moment and I think we’ll be better placed to comment on that as we head towards the summer and the shutdown period.”

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