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Dennis plays down test form

NEWS STORY
11/03/2009

With his team propping up the timesheets on the first two days of testing at Barcelona - the final major test before Melbourne - Ron Dennis says he is unconcerned and is convinced his team will be challenging for the title in Australia and beyond.

"Whatever performance level McLaren have today we will be a competitive racing team," Dennis told BBC Sport. "That means we will be fighting for the World Championship."

At Barcelona this week Heikki Kovalainen has been up to 1.6s off Kimi Raikkonen's pace, with only Sebastien Bourdais in the Toro Rosso posting a slower lap time. At Jerez, Lewis Hamilton was second quickest overall, while at Portimao Pedro de la Rosa was the quickest of the 2009 runners.

However, it is not only the pace of the MP4-25 that has fans worried, it is the fact that the Woking team has consistently run a 2008-spec rear wing, before introducing a raft of new body parts this week in what appears to be a last-minute attempt to revive fortunes.

Dennis however, like many, says it is best not to read too much into test times.

"The objective is to go to Australia and be the most competitive car there, not to come out of every single test at the top of the timesheets," he said. "Testing is about a disciplined approach to making the car go faster and you have to ignore the performance of the other teams."

That said, Dennis admits that development of the MP4-25 is behind schedule, though he insists this does not give rise to concern.

"We lost some time," says the Englishman. "We had a strategy for this year to leave it to the last possible moment to produce our aerodynamic package for the Australian Grand Prix. That in itself gave us some production challenges and we have really only started to run the car in the last day with the Australian aero package.

"We ran the 2008 rear wing because it was more relevant in its performance to the wing that we are going to have in Australia," he added. "It doesn't mean you are lost or that you don't know what you are doing.

"Whereas our main competitors are finishing testing in two days we still have the ability to test next week in Jerez," he continued. "When we get to Australia that will be the first measurement of everyone's performance. We expect our car to go faster with every Grand Prix and we expect to maintain our pace to allow us to win the World Championship."

At the time of writing, on the third day of testing at Barcelona, Lewis Hamilton is 2.53s off Jenson Button's pace.

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