McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that the team’s 2009 Formula One contender is not yet fast enough.
In contrast to the unexpectedly quick times posted by Jenson Button's and Rubens Barrichello’s Mercedes-engined Brawn GP cars in pre-season testing, the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24s of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been nowhere near the top of the timesheets.
“A performance shortfall has been identified,” said Whitmarsh, “that we are now working hard to resolve”.
Whitmarsh also said that the problem did not lie with the engine. “Our Mercedes-Benz engine is strong," he said. "We saw that last year. So the MP4-24’s performance shortfall is clearly chassis-centric.”
McLaren now faces a race against time to fix its problems in time for the Australian GP on 29 March. It was seen running with 'tracing paint' on the MP4-24's bodywork during this week's test at Barcelona, an indication that the team believes its problems are aerodynamic.