McLaren says it is heading to Bahrain without concerns about the controversy that has surfaced over its rear wing design, and says it expects the concept to be given the green light by the FIA later this week.
FIA technical chief Charlie Whiting will take a look at the rear wing design of the MP4-25 in Bahrain ahead of this weekend's season opener, following complaints from Red Bull Racing that it could be in breach of the regulations. Red Bull believes McLaren is making clever use of airflow through the engine cover and air box – and perhaps even from the cockpit – to stall the wing at high speed and deliver a straight-line speed advantage.
Whiting had been due to inspect the wing during a meeting at McLaren's base in Woking last week, but he had to cancel that visit after getting delayed while traveling back to Europe from Brazil. McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale said on Tuesday that the team was sure there would not be an issue.
"Charlie's going to continue to confirm that he's happy, which is what we've tried to do all the way through this process," said Neale. "It's regrettable that his plane got canceled while leaving Sao Paulo by 24 hours. It would have been nice to take the opportunity with him and some of the other FOTA team members to finish it off in the UK, but we're quite relaxed about it.
"We've spoken to Stefano (Domenicali) and some of the other team principals and colleagues there and, of course, everyone wants to see clarity. We're doing the same on a number of other teams' developments. There's nothing untoward about it though – we're quite confident the car is legal."
Neale said that his team had put a contingency plan in place, just in case an issue did arise with the wing. "We're not taking a radically different package, but you just never know what the stewards are going to do on the day," he said. "We get the best advice we can from the FIA in the interests of transparency.
"If the stewards decide on a different course of action though, it's still our duty to go racing. So, we have a contingency, but I wouldn't put much effort into it and I'm not expecting it to be used."
Neale said he also doubted Red Bull Racing had a full understanding of what McLaren had done with its car. "I have a pretty good idea, knowing Adrian [Newey] and the guys as I do, that they have a pretty good idea of what's going on with our car," he said. "They won't have figured it all out, but they'll be close."
McLaren is planning some further upgrades to its car for this weekend's season opener in Bahrain, after a major update package in Barcelona delivered a clear step forward in pace.
"There are some pretty low-level ones. Nothing night and day," he said about what was coming for Bahrain. "We continue to work through details regarding the efficiency of our pit stops. [There are] one or two minor aerodynamic developments on the car, but it will look and feel like the car we had at the end of the Barcelona test – some around the diffuser and we're yet to make a decision on what we do about side-pod wings. There's the usual arsenal of stuff to come over the next few races."