Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tough Day as McLaren Fail to Get into Gear; MOTOR RACING

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tough Day as McLaren Fail to Get into Gear; MOTOR RACING

Article excerpt

McLAREN team principal Martin Whitmarsh has admitted enduring one of the toughest days of his 24 years in Formula One.

In a frank assessment of his team after the opening day's practice for the Australian Grand Prix, Whitmarsh and his technical crew are at a loss to understand their latest car.

At this early stage, Jenson Button can forget winning his fourth race in five years Down Under and Sergio Perez will have to temper his stated desperation for a maiden victory.

The duo finished 11th and 13th on the timesheet, more than two seconds off the pace of reigning three-times world champion Sebastian Vettel as Red Bull took the sandbags off their car from testing after masking their true pace in Jerez and Barcelona.

Asked if McLaren were "struggling a touch", Whitmarsh said: "That's a very kind understatement because it was one of the hardest days I can recall.

"We lacked overall grip, consistency, there was a bit of understeer, it was a poor ride, so a very difficult day. …

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