Contrary to recent speculation, McLaren does not yet have a Mercedes-style new F-duct on its dominant 2012 car. When boss Martin Whitmarsh said in Melbourne that he would not be joining a theoretical protest against the Mercedes innovation, many suggested it was because the MP4-27 is already hiding something similar.
It appears the car does not have one yet, although the FIA did take a long look at the silver car in Melbourne.
“If they were looking for an F-duct, we don’t have one,” Whitmarsh smiled to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
In fact, the scrutineers were checking and then re-checking the height of the MP4-27’s front wing. But the F-duct might be coming.
“All the teams are going to be trying to extract the maximum within the permitted regulations,” confirmed managing director Jonathan Neale in a media teleconference this week.
But he also revealed that McLaren doesn’t yet “understand well enough” how the Mercedes system works.
Melbourne winner Jenson Button and his teammate Lewis Hamilton will therefore race a basically unchanged McLaren this weekend in Malaysia. But Hamilton’s downbeat mood has been picked up with the news that he was beaten by Button from pole last Sunday due to a minor clutch issue.
“It wasn’t my fault,” said the Briton, “but we now understand and know how to improve in the future.”
As for their differing race performances, Hamilton insists he now understands “the reasons” for Melbourne “and it puts me in a really positive frame of mind” ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian grand prix.