Having 'pulled themselves up' of late to the extent that the team is now all-but a match for early F1 2010 pace-setters Red Bull Racing – and arguably even faster in race trim – McLaren-Mercedes' target is henceforth to do what it has traditionally done best in recent campaigns, and out-develop all of its rivals.
Last year, McLaren began proceedings a gaping 2.5 seconds adrift of the benchmark, but come season's end had a car good enough to enable Lewis Hamilton to snatch pole position in four of the final seven grands prix.
This time around, of course, the Woking-based outfit was infinitely closer to the leading pace from the word 'go', and with countrymen Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton sitting second and third in the title standings respectively off the back of the Istanbul one-two – the team's second of 2010 – the momentum seemingly on McLaren's side and the next two tracks tipped to suit the MP4-25 down to the ground, it appears the pendulum could just be set to swing.
“I think we have pulled ourselves up in the last few races,” team principal Martin Whitmarsh mused during a special pre-Canadian Grand Prix Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Phone-In Session. “We've made some mistakes this year and we could have done a better job, but we do have some good momentum now. There is a strong feeling in the team, but we don't underestimate Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes and you never know what they are going to turn up with, because they are all capable of fighting back.
“I suspect it will be an epic F1 season. A few races ago people were predicting a Red Bull runaway – now I suspect it will be a lot closer than that. We've had a number of different winners this year, and most of the races have been great spectacles – even predicting what will happen this coming weekend is impossible for any pundit, which is exactly how sport should be. That's what makes it exciting for all of us – nobody can be confident of going to Montreal and winning.
“Judging by the latest forecast, the weekend looks likely to be weather-influenced as well, but even without that intervention, there is the potential for a really exciting race weekend. You've got to look after the brakes as well as the car in Montreal; it's a challenging braking circuit, and normally springs a few more bumps over the course of the Canadian winter.
“The next two races are at circuits where we hope we will be strong. We've got a few more development items on the car for this weekend, so we will try to make a bit more progress and take a few steps further forward. It ought to be where we are quick, and obviously Montreal is where Lewis won his first grand prix, so it's a happy hunting-ground for him. It's undoubtedly the case at the moment that Red Bull are very, very strong in high-speed corners – but fortunately for us, the next two grands prix don't feature a lot of those!
“Undoubtedly, in Istanbul, Red Bull still had an advantage over us in qualifying, but I think it was clear that we had faster race pace. That's just down to good, hard, solid work in developing the car – we try to bring small, incremental improvements to it on a continuous basis. Red Bull haven't stood still – they're a good team and they are developing too – but we pride ourselves on trying to develop quicker than our competitors, as we showed last year. We're trying to do that again this year to keep the pressure on them.”