McLaren says its priority is to identify and resolve the correlation issues that led to its poor start to the Formula 1 season, as it fears the problem could also impact on its preparations for the 2014 rules.
After struggling at the lower end of the top 10 in the opening rounds, McLaren is bringing what it describes as a "significant volume" of new parts to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. But the team's managing director Jonathan Neale says understanding how McLaren went off course and why its design did not work as anticipated is potentially more important than getting the MP4-28 on the pace in the short term.
"We are essentially trying to sort out a correlation issue," he said. "It's really important that we sort out the issues with the car and the correlation.
"All of the time you've got that lingering doubt of, 'Hang on a second, what went went wrong, where did it go wrong and how do we fix it?', you've got the opportunity for it to arise again."
REALISTIC NOT PESSIMISTIC
Neale insisted that his and Jenson Button's efforts to manage expectations over the upgrades did not mean McLaren was pessimistic about its chances of a step forward.
"There's good reason why both Jenson and I would want to be relatively low key," he said. "None of us wants to be a hostage to fortune and setting ourselves up for a blow on the chin from [the media] isn't very funny."
"The other thing is we're not working in isolation here, and while of course it's very natural that people want us to predict that we're going to be on pole position, it's a tough sport and the competitors don't stand still. Quite what will be delivered depends on what everybody else will be doing. It's impossible to predict and unwise to try to do so."
McLaren's top scorer Button is only 10th in the championship and is 64 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel, while team is sixth in the constructors' standings, 86 points adrift of Red Bull. But Neale believes it is much too early to predict whether McLaren's 2013 title chase is a lost cause or whether it can get back into contention.
"That's a long way out at the moment and we'll be better placed to comment on it as we approach the summer shutdown," he said.