McLaren says this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix is critical to its hopes of winning the Formula 1 World Championship.
Although the team is on a roll after winning the last three grands prix, its sporting director Sam Michael views its performance at the Marina Bay circuit as a key indicator going forward. He suggests that the high-downforce requirements of Singapore will give it a much better idea of where it stacks up against the opposition, because he does not believe that the relative speed of the top teams in Belgium and Monza offered the true picture.
"I think now it is a critical point of the championship for us," said Michael. "We are coming from behind and we know we have a big challenge to try and get up there in the constructors' [championship].
"The next race is important because if you look at the last three [races] there are various circumstances that may have contributed to our main competitor, such as Red Bull, suffering in performance. One in particular is the lift-to-drag ratios of tracks. We have been to two low-drag circuits, Spa and Monza, and those are quite different aero packages compared to what you normally run. We are now going back to Singapore, which is a maximum downforce circuit."
Michael reckons that if McLaren can maintain the advantage it has had over Red Bull in recent races then that will suggest it has edged clear of its rivals. However, he does not believe that if Red Bull returns to form it means that McLaren's title hopes are over.
"If we go there and still have same sort of advantage as we had in the last two [races], then I would say we are in a really strong position to challenge [for the title]," he explained. "If RBR is quick again and on the front row with both cars, then I think it doesn't mean we cannot win the championship – but it will be a tougher job."