SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — As McLaren search for answers to its dreadful start in the Australian Grand Prix, it has not ruled out going back to last year's car if the new one can't be improved.
The Formula One team's newest driver, Sergio Perez, who came over from Sauber in the offseason, says the 2013 car can still perform but feels the team must do whatever it can to compete including returning to last year's car — which helped the team finish third in the constructors' championship.
"We will try everything to be back in contention," Perez said on Thursday at the Malaysian GP. "I think the car has potential and we have to try to understand and take the maximum out of it. But we want to win this year and we will do anything in our hearts to go back to winning."
The team's other driver, 2009 champion Jenson Button, was not as open to the idea of returning to the older car. He insisted it wasn't something McLaren was considering at the moment.
"The important thing is to keep working and seeing what you can do," said Button, who won the season-ending Brazilian GP but finished ninth in Australia.
"I feel this weekend we're not going to be winning the grand prix but I feel we can find a step forward," he said. "It's about developing as much as we can as quick as we can."
McLaren has gone through plenty of changes in the offseason. Perez replaced Lewis Hamilton, who moved to Mercedes, and it introduced a redesigned car to improve consistency. But the new MP4-28 has been beset by problems.
Both drivers said there was a litany of problems, mostly to do with the balance and aerodynamics, including the down force which hasn't been sufficient.
Button, however, said it would be wrong to suggest the team was panicking over its poor performance thus far, though he acknowledged it was "working bloody hard to get back to the front."
"This is not where we expected to be and it's definitely not where we should be."
Perez, who remains upbeat about the team's prospects and still seems awed to be driving for McLaren, insisted he was not regretting his decision to leave Sauber.
"If they would have told me before I signed I would be in this position, I would have (still) signed," he said. "I prefer hundred times to be in this position with McLaren than with any other team and winning. I know the team has great people to (lead us) out of difficulties."
Perez said he was most gratified by McLaren's response to its early season woes which include his 11th-place finish.
"I thought I would be fighting for the front rows but we are far from there," said Perez, who last year became the first driver from Mexico to reach the podium in 40 years.
"The approach of the team has been amazing, looking for solutions instead of everybody saying you are the guilty one or you did the mistake," he said. "Everybody is united and everybody is trying to get out of this difficult moment."