Lewis Hamilton's lap times in Friday's practice sessions for the Australian GP have concerned McLaren fans but the the World Champion insists it's not as bad as it looks.
After struggling in pre-season testing for both pace and grip it was suggested in some optimistic quarters that McLaren were sandbagging and would display their true pace come this weekend's Australian GP. But instead all the Woking team showed was that those sandbags are geniunely weighing them down.
Defending Champ Hamilton failed to impress in either of Friday's two practices, finishing 16th in the first and 18th in the second, 1.8s behind pace-setter Nico Rosberg.
But despite his sluggish start to the Championship - evident in his unimpressive lap times - the 24-year-old Brit insists McLaren have actually made progress.
"My day was not too bad," Hamilton told Autosport. "We're not as quick as we would love to be, but we are working very hard.
"We got through quite a programme and made some decent steps for us. We don't know what anyone else is doing on track, but we're happy with what we have done today."
A lack of grip proved to be Hamilton's main downfall as his MP4-24 battled to stay stuck to the tarmac.
"In general, it's just a general lack of grip everywhere, it is not one particular area of the corners," he explained. "We cannot carry the speed through corners we would like.
"We are working very, very hard. We've made some steps forward, the gap to the others is not as big as it was at Barcelona. But there is no quick fix, it is going to take time."
Hamilton, though, isn't the only one trying to sound positive about what can only be described as a trying day.
Fernando Alonso, who finished 10th and 12th in the day's two sessions with a best time of 1:27.232, also insisted that Renault have made significant progress but at the same time admits there is more to be made.
"I am happy but I could be more happy," the Spaniard said. "Pace-wise it is difficult to understand, it is only Friday but we were 10th in first session and 12th in second, so it is not a position to fight for a podium and wins.
"Hopefully tomorrow we need to find some performance in the car, we need to be a little bit quicker and we cannot afford to start the race in the middle of the pack if we want to score some good points.
"The first day is always difficult, there are many things to discover. It's the first time we have tested in warm conditions after the winter in Europe, so we gathered useful information as usual.
"We will try to analyse all the information tonight and hopefully tomorrow we will have a normal improvement."
Source : Planet F1