McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has admitted to a sense of relief that his team's decision to revamp its exhaust system ahead of the start of the season appears to have paid off.
On the back of a troubled pre-eason testing program, McLaren gambled on ditching its radical "octopus" exhaust configuration for a totally new revamped version that had to be sorted out in a matter of days. With both reliability and pace looking much improved as Jenson Button topped the times in Friday free practice in Australia, Whitmarsh says a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
When asked if there was a sense of relief that the team's situation appears much improved, Whitmarsh said: "Yes, frankly there is. To come with a car, with a rear end that has never turned a wheel before, there is a degree of risk in that. I don't think I've hidden that fact.
"But, at the same time, you have analysis and simulation and, if you believe it, we had some confidence from that. Until it happens, you never know.
"The package itself it was not burning, and it performed. Whenever it does what it said it was going to do there is a bit of a relief. Frankly we had a very poor winter, and that was disappointing. And if you have a hunger and a passion to win, then it causes a little bit of tension and pressure on you when you feel that you are not where you need to be."
Whitmarsh revealed that the decision to revise its exhaust strategy was only made after the final Barcelona test, when McLaren was facing the prospect of both a slow and unreliable car.
"The guys at the team have done a fantastic job and I asked them to just go for it," he said. "There was a fallback position that I didn't think was performing enough, and I asked them to go for it in ten days. They did this and it was a fantastic effort from engineering and manufacturing to turn that around, bring it here, manifest it and come here for the race.
"Originally, there was a lot of concern understandably because I didn't want to come without this solution, and I made that fairly clear to the engineering and operational staff at McLaren, and I think they have responded fantastically."
Although the "octopus" exhaust design – nicknamed because of the way McLaren tried to use multiple exhaust streams from a central box to blow air under the floor – has been ditched for now, Whitmarsh has not ruled out re-introducing the concept later in the season.
"What I have asked at the moment, and asked ten days ago, was that we stop work on all those things. There are some really interesting things there, but it is such a big challenge, so it is an R&D exercise.
"I asked what the program was and I said, 'Forget it. Let's do something else.' But I am sure, as soon as they have got the breathing space, they will look at it again."