Britain’s Jenson Button says his new McLaren is not capable of winning a grand prix in its current spec after he trailed home ninth in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
The 2009 world champion, who had tasted victory at Albert Park in three of the last four years before Sunday’s race, lacked the pace to contend with the likes of Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes.
Kimi Raikkonen went on to take victory for Lotus, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel while Button took ninth and his team-mate Sergio Perez finished outside the points in 11th.
The 33-year-old said the team need to make radical changes to their 2013 challenger, although there will not be much time to do so before the next race which takes place at Sepang in Malaysia this Sunday.
Button said: “The way the car is at the moment, this package that is sat in the garage right now, is not going to win a race.
“We need to bring updates and move this car forward. That is the only way we will see good results and wins. We can definitely do it. We have been in bad positions before and come back strong.
“It is just a pity we have lost out so much at the start of the year. There have been non-stop meetings and discussions and we are doing everything we can to improve.
“We are going through every single piece of information we have collected this week and over the winter. It is going to be flat out and the team are going to be working non-stop. Everybody is a bit down. A team like this is used to winning.”
Perez, who made his debut for McLaren in Australia, added: “We’re lacking downforce, we’re lacking stability. It’s not only one thing. I think we’ve got a lot of problems. The car is not quick enough and this is our reality.
“We have to keep our heads up. The car has the potential so we have to understand and put it together so we can be fighting for good positions.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said they would not be reverting to last year’s car – which won the final race of the season in Brazil with Button at the wheel – for Malaysia. However, he didn’t rule it out for later in the season.
Whitmarsh said: “It is not a serious option for Malaysia – no. I think at the moment we’ve got to work hard on this car.
“We know it’s got some areas of high potential and we know it has potentially more downforce than last year’s car but we’ve all had cars in the past where it’s difficult to get the performance.
“But it was a shock to a degree. I hope and believe we won’t be so far off the frontrunners in Malaysia. But I’m not promising we’ll be with them either. We’ve got to be realistic what can be done in a few days.”