McLaren believes it has made some progress with its troublesome MP4-28, but the team realizes there is still plenty of work to do.
Although McLaren came away from the Malaysian Grand Prix with just a ninth place for Sergio Perez, it was encouraged by the fact Jenson Button raced competitively in the top five before his afternoon was wrecked by a pit stop blunder.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he was frustrated at losing out on a better finish, but he acknowledged he should be pleased with how the team was responding to its difficult start to the year.
"Expectations are like a bow wave ahead of you," explained Whitmarsh. "If you said to me on Thursday that we would be matching the pace of the frontrunners for much of the race, I might have been punching the air. But at the moment I don't feel like that. We threw away a fifth place that we should have had, an easy one. It would either have prevented the Mercedes stopping again or we would have given them a hard time as well.
"We've made some progress this weekend, we have learned a bit about the car and, when I stand back and look a bit more objectively, I will probably feel a bit better about it. But right now I probably haven't quite got the right frame of mind to be as positive as I should be."
With the team even more convinced that working on the MP4-28 is the best way forward amid ongoing talk it could revert to last year's car, Whitmarsh said he was instigating a big development push for the next race in China.
"I have already told them there is going to be [a push], so they had better starting inventing. We have made some progress, and we have to make some more.
"We know the car has not realized its potential but the drivers are doing an excellent job. We have to make a bit of progress. We should not be where we are, so we have to work hard and get out of it."