Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren bosses yesterday made the startlingly frank admission that they have not yet managed to equip him with a car capable of defending the Formula One world championship.
With the opening race in Australia just 15 days away, the British driver’s dream of becoming only the ninth man in history to secure successive titles is already severely imperilled.
So slow was Hamilton’s McLaren in pre-season testing at Barcelona this week that Martin Whitmarsh, the new team principal, and Norbert Haug, boss of engine suppliers Mercedes, took the unusual step of making their plight public.
Whitmarsh added: ‘Will the MP4-24 be as quick as we want it to be by Australia? Perhaps not. Will we be quicker than at the Barcelona test? Yes.’
That will not be hard.