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GP Week : Issue 37
> F1NEWS> worried BGP001’s pace as “unreachable”, and on the day that Jenson Button topped Jerez testing, he finished the day 2.5 seconds ahead of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. Although this year’s pre-season testing has been difficult to read given the new aerodynamic regulations, introduction of KERS and slick tyres, the widely held belief before the launch of the BGP001 had been that the team most likely to upset the applecart of McLaren/Ferrari dominance would be Toyota, with BMW and Renault also in serious contention for competitive results. BrawnGP’s apparent pace however has added an extra element of confusion and intrigue to the forthcoming season, as the new regulations look set for a greater shake-up of the order than anyone was expecting. Is McLaren in trouble? DESPITE protestations from outgoing team boss Ron Dennis that McLaren’s testing pace was no cause for alarm, his successor Martin Whitmarsh and Mercedes engine chief Norbert Haug have admitted that the team and its MP4-24 is facing a “performance shortfall.” The major problem for the team is an apparent lack of downforce, and although the car’s overall balance is said to feel good in the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, it lacks the grip of many of its rivals. While Ferrari has admitted its biggest issue going into Melbourne is the question of reliability, McLaren has no such worries with its Mercedes engine and in-house KERS unit running effectively. For McLaren by far the greatest concern will have been to see just how much faster the BrawnGP car has been able to run, using the same power plant as McLaren. Lewis Hamilton has had two recent excursions off track in testing, showing just how hard the world champion has been pushing the MP4-24. “This shows how competitive Formula 1 is,” said Haug. “Brawn GP has done a remarkable job and has been fastest in Barcelona for one lap as well as over a race distance. Our performance is not yet where it should be, but we will work very hard to improve it.” McLaren will run from Monday to Thursday this week in Jerez. The team had planned to run from Sunday but ultimately delayed by one day. “We’ve got some new bits out in Jerez and will be running them over the four days of the test,”a team spokesman told GPWeek. “There’s no particular reason for the delay, it’s just to give us an extra day of preparation.”