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GP Week : Issue 180
McLAREN: The fork in the road A long 2013 is in prospect for McLaren, with the first upgrades for the new MP4-28 bringing a small step in performance, but nothing that put the team into outright contention at the weekend. Even as Jenson Button used a clever two-stop strategy to finish a strong fifth, McLaren’s new recruit Sergio Perez capped off a dismal weekend by ending the day 11th and out of the points after a scrappy race that included a collision with Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus. McLaren, one of the sport’s most successful teams, were expected to be right in the thick of it this year after ending 2012 with the fastest car. But the Woking-based squad opted to completely overhaul their car ahead of the 2013 campaign rather than refine last year’s machine as most of their rivals have done and as a result found themselves significantly off the pace at the season-opener in Melbourne. With the first two races taking place on consecutive weekends and therefore allowing little time for the team to bring any major upgrades to the car, China offered the first opportunity for McLaren to try out new parts. “They’re perhaps not as big a step for ward as we’d expected – the issues with the car are still there – but the car does feel a little bit better,” Button said after trying out the modifications to his car in practice. Perez, however, found it much tougher to come to terms with his car resulting in him going off twice, including embarrassingly beaching his car in the gravel while coming into the pits on one occasion. “I'm not very confident with the car and that makes things difficult,” said Perez, who used to be part of Ferrari‘s young driver programme and was lured away from Sauber to replace Lewis Hamilton. “We have so many question marks, we have to analyse everything that we have done because we don't know which direction we are going. The car is so inconsistent for us.” F1 >>> NEWS 5 GPWEEK.com // 5 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: