McLaren has played down the chances of front-running teams deliberately sacrificing qualifying in Turkey in a bid to save all-new tires for the race.
With this weekend's grand prix in Istanbul likely to witness high levels of tire degradation, there have been some suggestions that drivers may choose to elect to not run in parts of qualifying so they can save their rubber for the race.
In China, Mark Webber was able to come through from 18th on the grid to finish third after his early qualifying exit meant he had lots of fresh tires for the race. McLaren principal race engineer Phil Prew said that the competitiveness of the battle at the front meant starting as far forward as possible was still the best tactic.
"The tire degradation is going to be large factor in Turkey, and I think that will certainly be pending toward a three-stop race," explained Prew. "There are some benefits of having new tires available to you. However, I think the competitiveness of the field will force you pretty much to run your ultimate new tires through qualifying.
"Our position would always be to take qualifying position over the new tires in the race. I am not discounting what we did with Lewis in China, for example, [when they sacrificed one run in Q3] but we were fortunate to get through Q1 and Q2 with a single set of option tires, which allowed us to save one set of options. But I don't think not competing in Q3 for tire saving is the right thing to do."
Prew says that McLaren has been working as hard in recent weeks on tire strategy as it has on delivering improvements to its car.
"There have been continual improvements in pretty much all areas, from the lessons learned through winter testing and the early races, as well as continued work to improve our tire utilization."
He added: "We are obviously hoping to close the gap [in Turkey]. We don't have the fastest car at the moment, and Red Bull Racing is still the team that we are aiming to close the gap to. We are adding upgrades to the car in Turkey which will hopefully help us close that gap. But as we have seen over the first three races, the difference between cars varies from track to track. Turkey should be a reasonably strong track for us, and developments deliver performance if we utilize performance.
"We are also conscious everyone else is aiming to improve the car at the same time. As always we hope we have done enough and more than other people."