Formula 1 - McLaren: No concerns over qualifying

McLaren insists it has no concerns about its drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez struggling to get the best out of its car in qualifying this year.

Both Button and Perez are widely perceived to be easy on their tyres, a trait that is valuable for looking after high degrading rubber in races but is not so good for switching on performance over a single lap in qualifying.

The issue may well become a factor for the team this year, but its sporting director Sam Michael says the outfit is relaxed about the situation right now.

"I don't think it is a massive concern at all," said Michael. "Jenson got on top of it [the tyres] last year and we don't really know where Checo [Perez] is until he drives the car.

"But it is not like he was a poor qualifier, because he was close to his team-mate all the time at the last team he was at.

"And, to be honest, the most important thing is what happens on Sunday, isn't it? That is where you get points. Although at the same time we want to be on pole position and run at the front.

"We don't know what will happen until we get into the race season. The change of tyre specs [for 2013] is probably significant, but is one that should help both of our guys."

Pirelli is being more aggressive with its compound choices for this year, and changes in construction should make the operating window for its products wider than it was last year.

Michael believes that teams will be far better prepared for the challenges of dealing with this year's tyres than they were this time last season.

"I think the teams that did understand it last year will know what to look for this time," he said. "I am not sure that if you came in fresh or used winter data only you would get much - because the temperature and loadings are completely different.

"However, the understanding that teams developed during last season will be more important when you rock up in Melbourne."

McLaren director of engineering Tim Goss was encouraged, however, that construction changes to the tyres do appear to suit the McLaren car philosophy.

"We tested the construction on the Friday in Brazil, as did most of the teams, and our car responded very well to the construction change," he said.

"So we know that as far as construction is concerned, then it is not an issue with our car.

"The compounds are the big unknown. We know what they have done with the data they have supplied us, in terms of compound stiffness, and what they are doing to the working range.

"But in truth we are going to have to learn about them over the next few weeks."