McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has conceded what all of us following this past week's Barcelona test already know: the new MP4-24 is just not quick enough.
McLaren, seeking to defend Lewis Hamilton's World title this season, suffered a serious dent to their aspirations this past week when they struggled to move away from the bottom of the timesheets at Barcelona.
While the days' leading teams were running in the 1:20s or even 1:19s, McLaren were battling to get the pace out of their MP4-24, which was fitted with a new rear wing. The Woking outfit's lap times were so poor that on at least two days there were over 2.5s off the pace.
It has been a worrying week for McLaren and their supporters, with Whitmarsh finally admitting - with just four days of testing left - that they are struggling.
"Initial testing of MP4-24, which first ran with an interim aero package, went in accordance with our early developmental expectations," he told Autosport.
"This week the car has run in Barcelona with an updated aero package, as we had always planned it would, and a performance shortfall has been identified that we are now working hard to resolve."
Bluntly asked whether their 2009 challenger is fast enough to compete for race wins and the World title, Whitmarsh said: "Not at the moment - and certainly not by our team's extremely high standards."
But not all the car's ills will be cured in time for Australia, with Whitmarsh adding: "Next week we will be testing at Jerez, which many of our rivals will not be.
"We aim to continue to develop the car, and the result should be measurable on the stopwatch.
"Will the car be as quick as we want it to be by March 29? Perhaps not.
"Will it be quicker than it has been this week at the Barcelona test? Yes.
"Will it improve as we develop its aero and thereby address its problems in the coming weeks and months? Most certainly."
A ban on in-season testing for this year will undoubtedly hinder McLaren's cause, which means Hamilton will be playing catch up even if the team do get to the root of their problems.
Underlining Whitmarsh's remarks, Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug said: "We are definitely not where we want to be.
"For the time being we are not quick enough. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to improve the technical package.
"We will continue our test programme next week at Jerez for another four days, but it will take time to improve.
"Obviously, there is a lack of downforce and we are working hard to solve this problem and improve. However, it might take us a few races to significantly improve. It will take time to improve."
Source : Planet F1