McLaren believes it can come away from the Singapore Grand Prix feeling it has made a step forward with its car - despite seeing Ferrari and Red Bull Racing lock out the front row of the grid.
The team went into the Singapore weekend viewing it as a crunch race that would set the tone for the remainder of the championship campaign. Although Red Bull has appeared to maintain its pace-setting form, on single-laps at least – with Sebastian Vettel's qualifying errors letting Fernando Alonso grab pole position – McLaren is not disheartened at getting out-paced by its main opposition.
The team's managing director Jonathan Neale said: "Coming here and putting our cars there to lock out the second row, we will come away feeling that this was good.
"This was a race that we were more concerned about relative to others that are coming up on the horizon. It was a good day for us yesterday, and both drivers feel that they left something on the circuit - but I don't know a driver who has come away from a qualifying session not having felt that."
As well as working on updates to help stabilise the rear of the car through better blowing of engine air through the diffuser, McLaren's main car development for this weekend was a new front wing, which helped deliver a step forward in pace. But Neale believes the full potential of the wing will not be felt until high-speed tracks like Suzuka.
"The new front wing is visually quite different," he said. "We have more to come from that on the high-speed circuits and I don't think we have seen everything that we are going to get from that here.
"But what has given us more confidence here is what is going on at the rear of the car, and that is work that has gone on behind the scenes over the last few races."
Neale also suggests that McLaren will become more risk averse in the next few races, as the tension of the title chase increases.
"As the championship plays out in the next few races our attitude to risk is changing slightly," he said. "One race difference between the five drivers means we have to be faultless, and we know accidents can change things very quickly here.
"So the last thing we want to do is push the risk too much. But we have more coming as I am sure the other teams have. I was in the airport on Friday morning with a lot of bits – and watching all Adrian Newey's stuff coming through in cardboard boxes was incredible."
Neale also revealed that one of McLaren's new front wings nearly did not make it to the track at all, after failing to get off-loaded at Singapore airport following its flight from London.
"I brought a reasonable amount of last-minute parts with me and I had one of the new front wings with me. It was beautifully packaged, as these things always are, when they come out.
"I checked when it went onto the airline that it had been loaded, and it had, so I waited at the other end for it to emerge. Then all the suitcases with various parts came through and I was waiting for this wing box. Then all of Adrian's stuff was going by me, but not our box. The aircraft engineers had assumed that, because it was so well packaged, it was actually part of the aircraft equipment and not luggage, so they left it on the plane. It took us a couple of hours to go and find it."