Sky's technical analyst and pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz believes there's a strong case to argue that McLaren are the second quickest team in Formula 1 right now.
McLaren were consistently fast during the test, but Kravitz believes there may have been some sandbagging going on to hide their full potential.
“It was weird at the test, actually,” Kravitz said In The Fast Lane podcast.
“McLaren had a very good first day in the dusty conditions and then they had a good second day. Then they all sort of went coy and thought ‘Oh my goodness, better not show everything’.
“Looking at the times, [Daniel] Ricciardo only had the seventh quickest time with a 1:30.1 whereas Max Verstappen’s quickest was a 1:28.9. Lando Norris was even further down.
“It’s like McLaren scared, spooked themselves into not giving anything away and stopped setting quick times to put everybody off the scent. But they were very happy towards the end of it.
“And that wasn’t just because they thought ‘Oh look, we’ve stolen a march on everybody with this diffuser’, it’s just because everything, globally as they might say at McLaren, is looking optimal.
“There was even some doubt that they may actually be quicker than the factory Mercedes team themselves. Some people have got McLaren as second behind Red Bull.”
One of the people Kravitz is referring to is Helmut Marko, with the Red Bull motorsport advisor believing that McLaren have the potential to insert themselves into the lead battle.
Why the step forward for McLaren?
McLaren's new MCL35M may just be an evolution of last year's car, but they are the only team to have had a change of engine supplier from last season.
Switching from Renault to Mercedes is a clear upgrade, although difficult to quantify in power terms, while a unique solution to their diffuser design has also caught the attention of the other teams.
“Not only have McLaren managed to put a huge new bargeboard arrangement in, which looks absolutely tip-top and cutting edge, but they have done this thing on the diffuser which nobody else has thought about,” Kravitz continued.
“That’s given them a tenth or two and given them some rear downforce in a season where downforce has been cut back on and it’s really worked for them.
“So it’s two things really: it’s aero stuff, which is free and not part of the token system, and it’s the Mercedes engine.”