Date: 22nd March 2011 at 11:46am
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There may not have been any additional winter test sessions and there may not have been any more test runs for McLaren, but the team believe that a new upgrade package that will be ready for the Australian Grand Prix this weekend will be worth an extra second in lap time around Melbourne!

McLaren have been playing catch up throughout the winter, their new 2011 car was late in development, missing one test completely and struggling for raw pace and reliability in the others.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at times discussed their frustration with the development of the car, before quickly returning to tow the party line by praising the teams development during the season and discussing their chances of competing with Red Bull and Ferrari later in the calendar.

However have McLaren made the breakthrough with their latest upgrade package, which includes a re-design of the car?s floor and exhaust system? McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh certainly believes so, although he admitted that the alterations do not come risk free.

‘I’m not satisfied with where the car was on reliability or performance in the tests, We have made some fairly dramatic changes, and those changes we’ll see in Australia. There’s some risk in that, but I think it was the right thing to do and we’re hoping that risk comes off and that the car is a lot more competitive.? he is quoted by formula1.com following a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In.

Whitmarsh went on to discuss the original idea behind the old floor and exhaust systems which had been designed to improve downforce following the ban on double diffusers.

The team boss confessed that McLaren’s design was a very extreme solution which simply wasn’t bringing sufficient benefit for their complexity.

The new design is simplified and should aid the cars reliability and should also improve the cars pace and make it a lot more competitive.

?The changes are aimed at making the car over a second quicker than it was in the tests,? Whitmarsh concluded.

If the new upgrades can improve the cars performance by a second a lap, then we could see McLaren competing a lot closer to pre-season favourites Red Bull and Ferrari in Australia.

Mercedes also gained around a second a lap during the final couple of days testing session in Barcelona with their final upgrades and they also go into Melbourne as dark horses for spot on the podium.