McLaren went into the extended F1 2012 August break with a definite improvement in their form, with a second place for Jenson Button in Germany followed by victory for Lewis Hamilton in Hungary. Now the aim is to ensure that the momentum carries forward into the back-to-back races at Spa and Monza.
"We had a couple of good races before the break and since then we've continued to push hard to develop our car," said team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "We have passed the halfway point of the season but it's incredibly open.
"Fernando and Ferrari have done a good job, but with nine races to go and with the performance that we were showing going into the break we should be focused on winning more races and on the championships," he added. "Everyone recognises they are wide open and we are certainly in contention."
Whitmarsh admitted that after McLaren had "came out of the box fairly quickly" with victory at the 2012 season opener for Button, they had "arguably slipped a little bit behind" but were now right back on it.
However, just as was the case with every other team on pit lane, the plans that the team had for Spa were thrown into disarray when the Friday practice session was essentially washed out.
"It's hardly surprising to be here in Spa and find that the weather is cold, wet and misty," signed Whitmarsh. "Unfortunately, that means that F1's much anticipated return after the summer break has been effectively pushed back by 24 hours because none of the drivers were able to set representative times out there today."
The tem did get some morning running which allowed them to evaluate the performance of the latest aerodynamic upgrades and to check tyre performance, but that was about it and the afternoon was essentially written-off.
"With the field so closely covered, even the tiniest scrap of data can be useful," Whitmarsh insisted.
"There's no real benefit to be gained from pushing the car, but there are always things we can learn," agreed Lewis Hamilton. "We did a couple of installation laps to check the effects of the upgrades we've brought to this race and see how the tyres switch on in the wet.
"It's been incredibly wet today - there were lots of rivers running across the track and lots of aquaplaning, so you had to be very wary out there," he continued. "It's going to be challenging tomorrow, but everyone is in the same boat – no joke intended! If it dries out, the track will be green in the morning, so you'll be setting the car up during a couple of runs in FP3."