A former grand prix driver and now respected pundit has dismissed Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion that McLaren has been sandbagging this winter.

A former grand prix driver and now respected pundit has dismissed Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion that McLaren has been sandbagging this winter.

In light of the Mercedes-powered team's poor pre-season pace, the F1 chief executive said he does not think McLaren are set to struggle in 2009.

"I think you will find that they are still very competitive in Melbourne," Ecclestone said. "Let's put it this way, there's been no need for them to show that they're quick."

But the Swiss Marc Surer, a veteran of nearly 90 grands prix in the 80s, said there is no doubt that the Woking based team's MP4-24 is not a world beater.

"There is no bluffing, they are having problems," he is quoted as saying by spox.com. "They definitely have an aerodynamic problem.

"It would surprise me if they will be where they want to be in Melbourne. We can safety assume they will get to the bottom of it, but they are not going to have a winning car all of a sudden," Surer added.

Brawn racer and grand prix veteran Rubens Barrichello agrees with Surer that McLaren is in difficulty, but similarly backs the highly-successful team to bounce back.

"What I assume is that, even though it will take some time, certainly McLaren are going to win grands prix this year in the second half of the championship," the Brazilian said in an interview with Spain's Marca sports newspaper.

 

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