McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has predicted that the Woking-based outfit will be able to close the gap to Red Bull Racing ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix on April 18.
Red Bull dominated the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber taking a convincing one-two. However the result was somewhat misleading after McLaren - and Ferrari - both got it wrong in qualifying and misjudged the changeable weather conditions. As a result Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button only finished sixth and eighth respectively, although given both started way down the order, it was still a pretty good result in the circumstances.
"I think Red Bull look very strong, certainly in qualifying," Whitmarsh told ITV-F1.com
. "I think we've got closer to them though - we were closer [on pace] in the race and I hope we'll be closer again in Shanghai.
"We weren't there to race with them [in Sepang after our problems in qualifying], I wish we were because that would have been quite interesting. But we'll find out in Shanghai how quick both cars are.
"We've made step by step improvements to the car [this year]. We started with a reasonable car, we've improved it, and this weekend we were definitely more competitive than we were in the first two races.
"I think going forward to Shanghai we'll improve the car again - we'll see but hopefully we'll improve the car more than the others.
"We're in second place in the constructors', we've got a good dollop of momentum, and hopefully that's going to allow us to come through and score some more wins, and to be there to contest the championship at the end."
Whitmarsh meanwhile echoed those thoughts in a separate interview with British newspaper, The Times
, predicting that the MP4-25 will be 'more than a few tenths' faster for round four on the F1 2010 schedule.
"We have got a lot closer to them [Red Bull] and, yes, they were in a class of their own," he continued. "But not for much longer, I hope. Their qualifying pace has been very good, but we have some new parts coming for China, which will lift us by more than a few tenths."