McLaren concedes that only mistakes from rivals Red Bull Racing will allow it to challenge for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.
With Mark Webber's pole position time almost one second quicker than Lewis Hamilton's best effort, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh thinks there is little hope of the team being able to make a fight of it without outside factors coming into force.
"They [Red Bull Racing] have clearly had a quick car all year, but they haven't maximised the points in at least three of those races," said Whitmarsh. "We've got a good race team, two great race drivers and we can only do our best with the car we have here this weekend. Hopefully that gives us an opportunity, but Red Bull Racing will need to make some mistakes if we are going to challenge them tomorrow."
Whitmarsh admitted that his team would need to increase its efforts to bring more speed to the car over the next few races if it was going to stop Red Bull Racing walking away with the title.
"The Red Bulls are really quick here," he said. "I think they have done a really good job, and we've made some progress – I think all the teams have – but we have got a long season ahead of us.
"I think we've got two great drivers, they got the best out of the package that we made available to them today and we were aiming frankly as the weekend wore on for the second row. We just about achieved that, but not quite. It is a long race, though, [and] we know they've got some vulnerabilities. We have certainly won races this year from further back on the grid, so it is not devastating."
He added: "We know we are working hard to develop the car, we have some bits that we need to get on the car as quickly as we can, but the cars, all of them, will continue to improve during the course of the year.
"We have demonstrated that we can improve. Our car has a good pace, we have got to edge up on that and make sure that we are working harder and faster than certainly Red Bull. By comparison to the other teams we are quite respectable, but the Red Bull at the moment is the car that everyone has to beat."