McLaren believes a lack of speed on the soft tire ruined its chances of landing a podium finish in the Indian Grand Prix.
The team had gone in to the race convinced that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button would be able to challenge Red Bull for victory if they got away well at the start. But in the end the duo slipped behind Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and lost ground during the opening stint, before a switch on to the hard compound produced a lift in form that helped Hamilton close in on third-placed Mark Webber by the end.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said that the tire characteristic meant the one-stop nature of the race left his squad with little chance.
"We blistered the option tire, so we were slow on it," he explained. "By the time we had got on to the prime we were the quickest cars consistently. But, by that stage, we had lost too much time – and in fact Jenson had fallen behind [Romain] Grosjean. So the bottom line is that we did not have the pace on the option tire.
"In truth we struggled with the option all weekend, as you know. We got on to the second row with a bit of a struggle with underlying reasonable pace. It is disappointing we were close to getting on the podium but not quite."
Despite the disappointment with the overall result, Whitmarsh did think McLaren's change of Lewis Hamilton's steering wheel mid-race was excellent. After a suspected problem with the steering wheel, the team executed a change of it and all four wheels in just 3.1 seconds.
"He had some mis-shifts and we believe that the rocker, the pivot, was sticking," said Whitmarsh. "I was initially dead against changing the steering wheel as I wanted the drivers to persevere, but we felt we had enough time to do it.
"Our time on it was 3.1 seconds, so it wasn't bad; but I would not want to do it routinely because it can easily go wrong.
"I think Lewis had the wheel off before the car stopped, and he had to put it in neutral. Getting the wheel off is normally not the most difficult bit; it is getting it back on that is as there are lots of electrical connections. So for the guys to do a 3.1-second stop time, and change the steering wheel – I hope we don't do it routinely, but it went well."