MELBOURNE (AFP) - McLaren boss Ron Dennis said he was wrong to deny that Fernando Alonso was concussed when he crashed in testing, as the team prepared to start the Formula One season without the two-time world champion.
Dennis said he could understand the criticism that came his way after he denied Alonso was concussed, only for him to be ruled out of the Australian Grand Prix on medical advice.
"It was not the best performance by me," McLaren's chairman and CEO was quoted as saying by British newspapers.
"I understand why the press beat me up for being inaccurate. I wanted to be open and honest. I failed. But it is my objective to try to be as honest as possible in future."
McLaren head into the season-opener in downbeat mood with Alonso, returning from Ferrari, sidelined to avoid a second head impact and after their MP4-30 car struggled in testing.
The nature of Alonso's crash in Barcelona, labelled "very strange" by his manager, prompted speculation and McLaren had to deny he suffered an electric shock in the cockpit.
Dennis said no decision had been made about whether Alonso links up with Jenson Button for the second race in Malaysia, although the Spaniard seems determined to take part.
"There is a very understandable concern about the complexities of a second concussion - okay, he had concussion - within 21 days of the first impact," he said.
"This is all something very difficult to quantify, and certainly not within my capability. We know we have a mountain to climb and we're in the process of climbing it.
"It's massively complex. We're not where we want to be but we will get to where we want to be given time."
Button, who has won the Australian Grand Prix three times, said McLaren would not be challenging for victory in Australia after repeated mechanical problems pre-season.
"We all know it's not going to be the easiest weekend for us," he told reporters. "Will we be challenging for a win? No, we won't be."
Kevin Magnussen, who will stand in for Alonso this weekend, said expectations were "quite low" as McLaren renew their partnership with Japanese engine supplier Honda.
"We're struggling with reliability to make the car run for a long time and also this is a new start for McLaren and in many ways," he said.
"It's going to take time but I think it's the right direction that the team has chosen to go and I think it has a bright future.
"It's going to take time but I think it will get there."