McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes his squad still has a long way to go before it is able to fight for race wins despite an improved qualifying performance in Bahrain.
Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's grand prix from fifth on the grid, with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen just missing out on making Q2 with 11th. Although the results marked another step forward, Whitmarsh insists that the team still needs to improve further to emerge as a potential winner.
"We are not in a position to win a race right now," said Whitmarsh. "But we showed that we are a good race team, we've responded to some pretty difficult conditions in the first three races with a car that wasn't quick enough and we scored points.
"If we can continue to make that level of progress, we will be competitive very quickly. In Spain, there will be performance improvement by a lot of teams. I can't predict what the others are going to do. But we've made our car quicker at each race this year and we're going to continue that programme.
"Clearly, in the last two years we put a tremendous amount of effort into trying to win world championships and we're not as prepared as our competitors. But we'll get back to a level of competitiveness during the course of the year.
"Whether we can win a race remains to be seen. At the fourth race, it is premature to give up on those ambitions for the year."
Whitmarsh added that the improvement the team has made this weekend is down to several factors, including the circuit being better suited to disguise the shortcomings of the car.
"It's a number of things," said Whitmarsh. "Lewis has done a good job, we've made some small improvements on the car and I think that this is a good KERS track.
"But, being frank about it, the high-speed corners here aren't as critical to the overall lap-time so we've got to be realistic. But we are a bit stronger here and that indicates that we have made progress."