McLaren launch day – 12.40pm

So there it is. The McLaren launch over and done with. It was as much as expected – swift, to the point, concise and with all the right themes trotted out by the management and the drivers.

The car is certainly striking, and there have already been whispers about its weight distribution considering the 160kg fuel tank that has had to be incorporated. But it looks good, and Jenson and Lewis are hoping that it will propel them to the front of the grid in Bahrain.

Martin Whitmarsh acknowledged that the car had some things on it that he had not seen before, but told the assembled press to ‘spot, speculate and theorise’ about what exactly these things were. It underlined a quiet confidence that seemed to permeate proceedings. McLaren quite patently have no idea where their car is in relation to the other teams’ cars, but assured the world that it would continue to evolve, and that the version on display here today would not be the same one that will take to the track in Bahrain.

The drivers seemed relaxed, at ease, and witty, although there were a few times that Lewis got crotchety with some questions that he said misquoted him. In his line of fire in particular was a question that concerned his allegedly receiving superior equipment to Heikki Kovalainen last season, and he was quick to set the record straight.

So the day is over, really, and all the writing up is earnestly being done. It was all very nice, but it does not, in effect, tell us anything. Nor, for all the conjecture, will the times in Valencia next week. It is only truly on the grid in the sand of Bahrain that the true pace of this car will be revealed.

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