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McLaren: ‘Disappointing and tough”, admits Whitmarsh

One year ago McLaren Mercedes almost swept the boards at Albert Park: pole position, front row lock-out, first and third in the race, fastest race lap.

They also ended 2012 on a high when Jenson Button book-ended his season by winning in Brazil as he had in Melbourne.

So what are they doing outside the top 10 in the opening sessions of practice for the first race of 2013?

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh was refreshingly honest about Button and new teammate Sergio Perez and the position they all find themselves in after day one at Albert Park. Were they struggling, as it seemed?

“That’s a very kind under-statement,” said McLaren veteran Whitmarsh.

“One of the hardest days I can recall. We were lacking in overall grip, consistency, bit of understeer, poor ride – a very, very difficult day and one where we didn’t go forward either during the course of the day.”

Whitmarsh said it had been a conscious decision to go ahead with multiple changes to the car in building the MP4/28. “At the moment we don’t fully understand how to get the best out of this car,” he admitted.

“But that’s a choice you make. It’s a season that lasts between now and the end of November; we’ve got to be able to race throughout that period of time, developing the car – that’s what we set out to do.

“Of course it’s much more comfortable to start the season competitively and fight from there, but we’ve done both in our time. This feels pretty tough at the moment but we’re a strong team and we have to find a way through.

“It’s been a disappointing and tough day for the team.”

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