McLaren’s new Formula One car will be better than the 2006-specification MP4-21, according to 2007 race or test driver Pedro de la Rosa.
The 35-year-old, whose role at the Surrey-based team for next year is presently undefined, revealed to the Spanish news agency EFE that he has already sat in the single seater that will be known as the MP4-22.
If de la Rosa lands the second Mercedes-powered race seat, his teammate in 2007 will be countryman Fernando Alonso. GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton is also in the running for the drive.
He said the silver and red racer appears visibly very similar to the MP4-21, which failed to win a single grand prix this year in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya, and De La Rosa.
“Some parts around the cockpit are different,” Pedro said, revealing that he will spend many hours in the driving simulator at Woking fed by the new car’s data.
“I am feeling good about (the new car). We have got rid of the things that did not work in our favour this year,” he added.
Pedro said: “Usually McLaren are not bad for two years in a row. With a team like ours, it would be difficult to repeat a season without wins like this.”
Despite his optimism about the new McLaren, however, De La Rosa answered ‘Ferrari’ when asked which team will enter the first races of next year as favourite for the titles.
“I see them having a small advantage because they already have a lot of experience with Bridgestone. It is difficult to know how we are going to adapt our car to the (2007) tyres.
“Nonetheless, I see it as an open and close championship,” he insisted.