McLaren take wraps off 2014 car
Jenson Button believes Formula One "is sitting on the edge of the unknown" after McLaren became the first team to fully reveal their new car for the 2014 season.
The aesthetics of the MP4-29 will shock many observers given the new rules this year dictate a different aerodynamic design. The front wing now possesses a long nose, nicknamed 'anteater' by some given its protruding shape, whilst the rear wing is very narrow.
Throw in the new powertrain regulations, with 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged units replacing the old normally-aspirated 2.4-litre V8s, and F1 2014 will be very different compared to recent campaigns.
For McLaren, the vast array of changes offer them a welcome clean slate following one of the worst seasons in their history in 2013 when they failed to claim a podium for the first time in 33 years.
Button, who has a new team-mate for this year in Kevin Magnussen, who is 13 years his junior, said: "Obviously, we want to get back to the front. We want to have a better season than we did in 2013, too, but it's really difficult to accurately predict anything right now.
"These are such huge changes that they'll have a massive impact on the competitive order, so we need to wait and just see how things shake out.
"Our aim must be to have a smooth and productive winter, although I don't think anybody's anticipating the next few months to be easy. I can't imagine anybody in the pitlane would admit to that.
"But our aim must be to make progress all the time, and to learn positively as we go."
Assessing the challenges ahead in pre-season, that begins on Tuesday in Jerez with the first test, and for the season ahead, Button added: "I think every single person in Formula One is sitting on the edge of the unknown. That's both exciting and unsettling in equal measure.
"There will be lots of things going through my mind when I settle myself into the cockpit for the first time in Jerez next week.
"But above all else, what I'll be looking for is that simple, positive feeling you get from knowing the car beneath you is a solid platform, one you can work with and develop throughout the season.
"I don't think anybody will be coming out of this first test feeling certain they've cracked this new formula.
"I think it'll be more a case of slowly peeling away successive layers as the engineers and designers gather more information and gain an understanding of how the cars and power-units are behaving.
"This formula is too big, and too complex, for a single team to feel secure about getting everything right and quickly establishing an advantage.
"It's about diligently chipping away at it that we'll get there."
Managing director Jonathan Neale and sporting director Sam Michael were also extensively quoted in McLaren's press release, but with nothing from team principal Martin Whitmarsh, unsurprisingly.
It is expected Whitmarsh will be replaced by Eric Boullier, who has quit his role as team boss at Lotus.
Ron Dennis last week staged an internal coup at McLaren by returning to a former position as the team's group chief executive officer, ousting Whitmarsh.
McLaren have refused to comment on Whitmarsh's position since the changes occurred last Thursday, with Dennis remarking then on the possibility of appointments being made some time next month.