McLaren Group chairman Ron Dennis has played down suggestions the Mercedes-powered team is set for a season in the midfield.

McLaren Group chairman Ron Dennis has played down suggestions the Mercedes-powered team is set for a season in the midfield.

The MP4-24 seems to be struggling for winter test pace, amid rumours the car may be flawed aerodynamically at the rear.

But Dennis, who earlier this month handed control of the Woking based team to his long time deputy Martin Whitmarsh, said pre-season form should not be relied upon.

"Whatever performance level McLaren have today we will be a competitive racing team," he told the BBC at the Science Museum in London.

"That means we will be fighting for the world championship," said Dennis.

The former team principal admits McLaren is slightly behind schedule with its 2009 programme, but pointed out the timeframe to the season opener in Australia.

"Whereas our main competitors are finishing testing in two days we still have the ability to test next week in Jerez," Dennis explained.

"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."

He played down the link between the lack of test pace and the team's prolonged use of the 2008-specification rear wing.

"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," Dennis said.

"It doesn't mean you are lost or that you don't know what you are doing."

 

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