McLaren has won in Australia three times in the previous five seasons, including the 2012 opener courtesy of Jenson Button.
"We’ve faced a challenging few weeks prepping our new MP4-28 for the 2013 season," said Whitmarsh. "The often cold and sometimes wet conditions we experienced during pre-season testing in Barcelona and Jerez made it difficult to operate the tyres consistently within their optimal performance window. That issue, combined with a handful of typical testing setbacks, gave us a few headaches."
"It’s important to remember that our MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design that we intend to develop aggressively throughout the year. Undoubtedly, it has great potential – and we fly to Melbourne determined to show well and to score points that should establish us in good stead for both the drivers’ and the constructors’ world championships."
Button, a three time victor in Melbourne, is also unsure of the pecking order.
"This year, I don’t think any team really knows or understands the competitive order," said the 2009 world champion.
"It’s been an extremely hard-to-read winter: varying fuel-loads and levels of tyre degradation mean that it’s hard to accurately predict who’ll arrive in Australia with the best-sorted car. But that’s part of the game."