McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale believes it will be “a real challenge” for the team to contend for race victories in the second half of the season.
Britain’s Jenson Button and Mexican Sergio Perez have not managed to finish on the podium this season with Button’s fifth place in China McLaren’s best result.
That’s quite a drop in performance for a team which has won at least one race in each of the last 10 years, apart from 2006.
Before the summer break, Button said he hoped the team would be able to challenge for wins in the second half the year following improved car performance in the last few races.
But Neale said: “I think that will be a real challenge, if I’m honest. Both drivers are capable of scoring points and we have seen some double figure points scores, which is always pleasing.
“But we have certainly not achieved what we wanted to with this car and there still remains an awful lot of work to do to make sure we properly understand that and get ourselves in good shape for next season.”
Button took his second of three wins in 2012 at Spa Francorchamps, which hosts this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, but Neale believes it will be difficult to repeat the feat this year.
“I think we’ll struggle to be right at the front but nevertheless we are hoping to make some further gains,” he said. “The weather forecast that I’ve seen says that qualifying and the race could well be wet this weekend. Spa is tricky and I don’t think anybody would go there feeling confident.”
McLaren are currently sixth in the constructors’ championship, 220 points behind leaders Red Bull. While the Woking-based team remain keen to improve their position, they are also focusing hard on 2014 to ensure the same problems don’t reoccur.
“The areas that we’re working on this car are areas that, either directly or indirectly, are relevant to our 2014 campaign,” added Neale. “We’re almost through August so it’s four months until the end of the year. There’s a lot of work to be done to get ready for next year.”
On the subject of tyres for next season, Neale added that the team were “assuming” Pirelli would continue to be the supplier, but if they are not, they could work around the new tyre manufacturer which stepped in.
“I think at this stage we are assuming, and I don’t know whether there’s any foundation for that, that somehow the process will continue with Pirelli,” added Neale.
“If we were to get a late change from somebody else coming in to the sport at late notice then of course we would work around that and work with whoever the FIA chose that to be.”