Paffett eyes good start to 2012

Date published: January 5 2012

Test and reserve driver Gary Paffett is confident that McLaren will hit the ground running this season…

Test driver Gary Paffett is confident that McLaren will hit the ground running this season.

The Woking squad struggled during winter testing in 2009 and 2010 and were off Red Bull’s pace once the season got underway.

The team, though, are determined not to make the same mistakes this campaign and Paffett says they are pretty happy with the progress they have made so far.

“It’s always very difficult to say because we set ourselves targets to meet; but you can hit those targets and then get to the first test and be nowhere,” he told gpupdate.net.

“So we are pretty happy with how things are going, the progress has been good and we have obviously had the car in the simulator in various stages for many months now; we’ve got a pretty good representation of what it is going to be like and it feels good.

“So I think at the moment we are pretty happy, pretty positive and just waiting to get the car on-track to see where we are and where we can go forward.

“There is a lot of development still to be done but we are getting close to our first race package now, and then there are obviously the big updates for the European races – but it’s all going well, I would say.”

He added: “Certainly in 2009 and last year we started off with a car that wasn’t competitive, especially in testing. But I think the biggest things were that there were some really serious rule changes for those years, with completely different car design concepts.

“Perhaps in 2009 we just got things a bit wrong… certainly many people got caught out with the double-diffusers, we weren’t the only ones. Last year was a different thing, the exhaust package, but once we sorted that out the actual car itself was competitive – the chassis and everything else. I think, with the rules staying very similar for this year, things will possibly and hopefully be a bit smoother from the word go!”

Paffett also sees no reason why McLaren can’t challenge for a race win at the season-opening grand prix in Australia.

“We had a competitive car for pretty much all of 2011,” he said.

“Red Bull definitely had the pace over us for the majority of the season but, all the way up to the end of the season, we were pushing them very hard. So our plan is certainly to go out there and challenge for a race win in Melbourne.”