Lewis Hamilton believes his return to Q3 in China marks the start of McLaren's recovery.
The reigning world champion has endured a miserable start to his title defence, with McLaren's 2009 car off the pace throughout winter testing.
Although Hamilton still came through from the back of the grid to third in Melbourne, he lost the result in the subsequent scandal and could only manage sixth place in Malaysia.
But with McLaren introducing a variety of new parts for Shanghai, Hamilton was able to top Friday morning practice and qualify ninth today - his best starting position of 2009 so far.
"This was the goal of the team - to bit by bit make the step forward," he told the BBC.
"It's great to be back in Q3. I just have thanks to say to the guys back home, they're doing a fantastic job, keep churning away, and bit by bit we're catching these guys."
When asked if this was the beginning of a resurgence, Hamilton replied: "definitely".
Although he found it hard to quantify how much time McLaren had gained from its development parts, he said he was pleased with the team's progress, even though there is still much more work to do.
"Every little bit helps, so it's difficult to say," said Hamilton. "Every time you stick a bit on, you feel it here and there. But there's a very, very long way to go so we've got to keep churning away.
"I think the guys back home should take this as a postive, but keep on pushing, we still have a long way to go."