Jenson Button will give McLaren’s 2012 car, the MP4-27, its official track debut at Jerez on 7 February, the British team has announced.
On the same day as the winter pre-season kicks into gear, it is believed Felipe Massa and Mark Webber are also scheduled to be debuting the new cars of McLaren’s likely championship challengers, Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.
McLaren said 2009 world champion Button, runner-up behind Sebastian Vettel for last year’s title, will also drive on the second of the four-day test, before Lewis Hamilton takes over.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso thinks Jerez and the subsequent winter tests – and even the season opener in Australia in mid March – will be too early to gauge the likely pecking order in 2012.
“Many regard the tests as they do the races, but it will not mean much. We will have to wait until the races in Malaysia or China to really know whose car is good or not,” Alonso is quoted in the Spanish media.
His Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali broadly agrees.
“It’s too early,” the Italian is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. “We will not see the true potential of the cars for the first time until Saturday in Melbourne. Not before.
“During the tests we – like all the other teams – will be trying not to show everything about the speed of our car.”