Former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis has said he finds it 'infuriating' that drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button complain about their car not being as fast as rivals Red Bull Racing in qualifying, even though the pair are leading the championship.
In an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT, Dennis reckons that part of McLaren's strategy this year was to ensure its car was better suited to the races than single flying laps - and thinks that is why the Woking-based outfit is leading the world championship standings despite having had just one pole position.
McLaren has scored just one pole position this year, compared to Red Bull's 10.
"For some of our competitors, having the edge in qualifying is to the detriment of their reliability, and also, they don't have great team strategy." Dennis told AUTOSPORT. "There are two ways to develop a car under the current regulations. We knew that the car had to have 200 odd-kilos of fuel in it and then go through the whole race. We've got the tires degrading and the fuel level going down.
"We felt that we put great emphasis on the ability of the car to be gentle on the tires and for the tires to be in really good shape throughout the race. If you do that, it's to the detriment of being able to get the best out of the tire in a qualifying condition.
"No question, we don't have an optimized car for qualifying. But we do have a very good race car. And in the end we've won races and we're leading both world championships, and both of our drivers are first and second.
"So I find it slightly infuriating, and I've voiced my opinion, when my guys get out of the cars and say, 'I wish I was on the front row' and build in the media the perception that we're giving them cars that are less capable of winning races - I do point out to them, 'Well, I still think you won four races between the two of you. Aren't you leading the world championships?' It's the nature of drivers."
Although Hamilton claimed at this weekend's Hungarian GP that he thinks McLaren now only has the third fastest car, Dennis still reckons the team can go on to capture the title.
And he thinks the outfit was wholly right to take a gamble on introducing its blown diffuser at the British Grand Prix - even though it had to be taken off the car after practice because it was not working properly.
"The fact is we aren't the fastest car in qualifying, but our development of our racing cars is relentless," Dennis added. "We never give up. How often in Formula 1 do teams sort of run out of steam and say, 'We're going to put all our effort into next year's car.' The moment you hear that, you go, 'Go right ahead!' If our team had not won any race but won the last race, that'd be absolute justification for all the money we spent trying to win the last race."
"We made a car that was less than competitive at the beginning of last season, two seconds off the pace, and we had the most competitive car at the end of the season. If we start the season competitively, we're very hard to beat. Our pace of development is so fast that sometimes we get ahead of ourselves like at Silverstone, but that's the price you pay for rapid development.
"Anyone betting against us, it's a hard bet. But there's a long way to go yet. But I'd rather have the points buffer we've got than not have it.
"There's no question, our car is particularly good in certain types of circuits. In Canada, we were dominant. I didn't hear people saying then we were unhappy with our cars. Our cars are more competitive than they look in qualifying."
Lewis Hamilton enjoys a 14-point margin to his teammate Jenson Button in the drivers' championship, while Red Bull Racing trails McLaren by 28 points in the constructors' ahead of Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.