McLaren is confident that new updates for the MP4-26 will help the team improve its qualifying performance at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend and the following race at Monza.
While the team's race pace has often been at least a match for Red Bull during races, Lewis Hamilton's and Jenson Button's starting positions have often compromised their race plans, and subsequent potential results this season. McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale insists that McLaren's qualifying form has been improving, however, and predicts further progress at the Belgian Grand Prix as the team aim to maintain the pressure on Red Bull.
"In terms of closing the gap to Red Bull, we have had a competitive racecar for some time now," Neale said. "The qualifying pace is where we have been falling short. I'm pleased to say that – except for the slight blip at the British Grand Prix – the trend has been good and we have been closing in.
"We haven't got the cars in the right part of the grid, but we are developing at a better rate and there are a series of upgrades planned for these next two races."
Neale said part of the disparity between McLaren's relative pace in qualifying and races could be explained by the design concept of the DRS wing, which can be optimized either for race balance or for one-lap speed.
"To make the optimum rear wing you wouldn't make a DRS-enabled rear wing – it's not as aero efficient," he explained. "You have a choice to make: do you want to the get the downforce and aero efficiency from the car, or are you after the greater drag reduction?
"Now that we have gotten ourselves into a situation where we believe we are competitive, we have been able to devote time to the DRS system and my expectations are that our DRS system will be competitive at the next few races. However, what we try to do is add performance to the car in a variety of ways – there is no one way of doing it and there is certainly no magic bullet.
"Our work force, our drivers, our sponsors and our fans expect us to fight through to the last race. That's what McLaren is here to do – to run deep into the season and to win races."