McLaren-Honda is expecting to struggle through the opening few races of the season.
While the rest of the sport gets up to speed for the second year of F1’s challenging new ‘power unit’ era, the newly Honda-powered team is struggling not only for pace but also simply to run the new MP4-30.
But with Fernando Alonso still recovering from his Barcelona crash a week ago, reserve Kevin Magnussen got his first taste of the 2015 package on Saturday and declared it better than last year’s Mercedes-powered car.
“It is a good base,” he said, “and feels more consistent, stable and predictable than its predecessor. The driveability is better.
“Last year’s car was very pointy and hard to drive,” said the Dane.
“Overall, on the aerodynamic and mechanical side, the car feels good.”
Magnussen did, however, admit that McLaren has been unable to develop the car over the Jerez and Barcelona running to schedule, meaning the MP4-30 currently has “probably less grip” than the fully-developed 2014 machine.
He was speaking on Saturday, on the eve of the end of the 12 days of winter testing and just two weeks before the season opener in Melbourne.
“We won’t be as ready as we would like,” admitted team boss Eric Boullier, “but we will do our best.
“The positive is everything is working, but reliability is a concern, clearly,” said the Frenchman.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I think a few races but at least by Europe we should be ready to be more competitive,” Boullier added.