McLaren reserve driver Gary Paffett says the team's decision to begin 2011 winter testing with its 2010 car was taken a long time ago, and echoed his boss Martin Whitmarsh's explanation that it was not planned because work on the MP4-26 is running late.
The team announced that its 2011 launch would not take place until a Berlin event on Feb. 4 – the day after the opening test of the year ends. McLaren subsequently revealed that it would use a relatively standard 2010 chassis for the Feb. 1-3 Valencia test, as it wanted to get a benchmark performance on the Pirelli tires.
Paffett insisted that this had been McLaren's plan for many months.
"We looked at the testing and we decided very early on that we weren't going to take it to the first test - so it's not behind schedule, it's just not coming out at the first test, basically," he told AUTOSPORT. "We're going to use the first test to use the Pirelli tires with the old car. The guys know the old car, so if they can drive the old car with the Pirelli tires, they can get an idea of the tires on they're own. It's all on-track, really."
Although the car used at Valencia will not feature any 2011 design parts, Paffett said it will be slightly modified to give an approximation of this year's adjusted regulations.
"I think we're going to try and simulate the downforce level that we're going to have [in 2011], which is obviously a little bit lower because of the double diffuser [being banned]," he explained. "It will be as close as we can get with the old car."
Paffett admitted he would only play a small role in preseason testing again this year.
"I'm doing one day at Valencia, which is going to be with the old car, and the race drivers will be doing all the testing in the new car," he said. "We have an aero test that I'm doing in the new car just to get the fit and everything right. But the testing is so limited that the race drivers need all the time in the car to get it to their liking."