McLaren intend to start the 2003 season with this year's car, the MP4-17, because there is still more to be exploited from it, said managing director Martin Whitmarsh. The new MP4-18 is unlikely to be used until the championship reaches the European races, starting with the fourth round at San Marino, but the current chassis is by no means the same as it was this season.
"We are certainly not taking this year's car and engine to next year's Australia Grand Prix," Whitmarsh said according to the BBC. "The MP4-17 package has already undergone considerable change from the start of this year to the end, but we felt there is still a lot more we can exploit from it."
"The monocoque will be the only carry-over from the 2002 season with substantial changes to all areas beneath the skin. We feel this is the best long-term strategy for us to be able to reclaim the drivers' and constructors' championship. We are not in Formula One just to win the first race of the season -- although we would love to win it -- but we are there to win the world championship."
McLaren was beaten into third in the Constructors' championship by Williams this year but Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn recently said he still considered McLaren the main threat for 2003. Ferrari may also start next season with this year's chassis, although the new F2003 is due to be running in February.