Team principal Martin Whitmarsh has failed yet again to kill off suggestions McLaren will ultimately scrap the 2013 car and revert to the multiple winning model of last season.
Committed logistically to taking the struggling new MP4-28 to the Australia-Malaysia double header, the British team appears to have taken a small step forward this weekend.
Whitmarsh is now suggesting a further improved 2013 car will be raced in China in three weeks.
“Everything is an option,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport when asked the old question about the possible return of the 2012 car.
“But we have made some initial progress and I believe up to China we will make some more.
“I believe we can make this car a winning one, it just might take longer than we like.”
Jenson Button apparently agrees, saying qualifying in Malaysia “just two tenths off the guy (Kimi Raikkonen)” who won in Australia “can’t be bad”.
“We have made great progress in five days,” he added.
Still, the rumours about the 2012 car persist, even though Whitmarsh insists there is nothing “fundamentally” flawed – or unfixable – about the MP4-28.
The team boss was asked on Saturday if he can “kill off” the 2012 car speculation.
“I can kill it off for the time being,” he told reporters. “We have made a clear decision and we are working hard to understand this car in order to improve it and turn it into a race-winning one.”
His message is clear — if fixing the MP4-28 falters, the MP4-27 is always there.
“The fact is,” continued Whitmarsh, “we took too long to realise (the mistakes with the MP4-28) and we are responding now.”
Button commented: “I’ve been with teams before where we have spent the year fighting but without improving. That is not McLaren.”
Sir Jackie Stewart backed the Woking based team to succeed eventually.
“They’ve got too much technology,” he told AP news agency, “too much knowledge, too much experience not to get it right.”