McLaren will push to get a new floor and exhaust layout race ready for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in a bid to close the gap on pacesetter Red Bull Racing.
Lewis Hamilton tried out the new parts during Friday practice in Malaysia last week, but the team decided to stick with its earlier evolution for the rest of the event because it did not want to risk reliability problems. However, McLaren will give the new parts another test in practice at Shanghai – and team boss Martin Whitmarsh is confident that his squad has what it takes to hunt down Red Bull Racing.
"We've got some things that we will try on Friday and that is the nature of this sport," explained Whitmarsh. "I think we are quite close, but I would like to be closer or ahead.
"It is my job to keep pushing and improving the car, which we will try and do. We have some interesting work to do on the Friday in China, but not much time. We will do the best we can there. If you look at the progress we have made in the last four or five weeks we are heading in the right direction, but we will need to keep going if we are going to be competitive, win races and compete for the championship this year."
When asked to explain why, if the new floor and exhausts were faster, they were not used in Malaysia, Whitmarsh said: "Some elements of it were, but you have to concentrate on winning the race.
"When you are trying to develop a car there is always a conflict between that, and we thought we had a fairly respectable package that had at least one race distance on, and we thought we would back off to that. We will do some more work on that floor undoubtedly in China and we will make some more progress."
Whitmarsh thinks McLaren can be pretty happy with its performance in Malaysi, having challenged for pole position and not been too far adrift of winner Sebastian Vettel.
"You have to say, look at what we did in qualifying. I think we were quite close. In race pace, accepting Lewis had that problem at the end, in the second stint Lewis made headway on Sebastian and in the last stint Jenson [Button] made headway on Sebastian. If you look at qualifying, then we had the ability to be on pole here and we had the ability to chase them.
"For Lewis it was a disappointing afternoon, with what happened at the start, to get behind Nick [Heidfeld]. Nick did a great start to attack from behind, getting around the outside of the first corner, so [Hamilton] lost the time. He had a good second stint, the third stint was also respectable but the fourth stint was difficult, possibly because he was on used prime tires."