Ron Dennis insists McLaren's lack of pace in testing is no cause for concern

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    Ron Dennis insists McLaren's lack of pace in testing is no cause for concern

    Post by Ross on 11th March 2009, 10:42

    Dennis: No concerns over testing pace

    McLaren chairman Ron Dennis has played down concerns about McLaren’s pace following the indifferent testing performance of its 2009 car over the past two weeks.

    The Woking squad, which perennially vies with Ferrari for the drivers’ and constructors’ world championships, has languished near the bottom of the timesheets at Barcelona this week, where all 10 teams have been in action ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 29.

    Although he concedes that McLaren is not yet competitive with its main rivals, Dennis is adamant his team will soon close the gap and mount a season-long title challenge with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen.

    “Whatever performance level McLaren have today we will be a competitive racing team,” Dennis told BBC Sport.

    “That means we will be fighting for the world championship.”

    Kovalainen was slowest of the 10 runners at Barcelona on Monday and yesterday (Tuesday) finished ahead of only Toro Rosso, which has only just rolled out its new STR4 car.

    Headline lap times, especially during winter testing, are a notoriously unreliable guide to form – but McLaren has also been off the pace over long runs with race fuel loads on board.

    Sources indicate that the team is struggling with an aerodynamic problem on the MP4-24, understood to be the rear wing stalling, having alternated between 2008 and 2009-spec rear wings at Jerez last week and redesigned the car’s floor.

    It has also conducted ‘flow vis’ tests – whereby a green dye is applied to the side of the car and is dispersed as the air flows over it at speed – to highlight how the airflow is being managed, a practice normally carried out behind closed doors in private testing.

    Dennis admits McLaren has fallen behind schedule with its aero development, meaning that it has only just fitted the Melbourne-spec package – and says this explains its decision to continue testing with last year’s rear wing.

    “We lost some time,” he explained.

    “We had a strategy for this year to leave it to the last possible moment to produce our aerodynamic package for the Australian Grand Prix.

    “That in itself gave us some production challenges and we have really only started to run the car in the last day with the Australian aero package.

    “We ran the 2008 rear wing because it was more relevant in its performance to the wing that we are going to have in Australia.

    “It doesn’t mean you are lost or that you don't know what you are doing.”

    While six of the 10 teams will wrap up their winter testing in Barcelona this week, McLaren, Renault, Williams and Brawn GP will head south to Jerez for a final outing next week before flying to Australia.

    Dennis is confident this will give McLaren an opportunity to catch up, and reckons the team will come on ever stronger as the season progresses.

    “Whereas our main competitors are finishing testing in two days we still have the ability to test next week in Jerez,” he said.

    “When we get to Australia that will be the first measurement of everyone's performance.

    “We expect our car to go faster with every grand prix and we expect to maintain our pace to allow us to win the world championship.”


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