Managing director Jonathan Neale says McLaren has taken a 'pragmatic approach' as it looks to bounce back from a tough 2013 season during the year ahead.
The team became the first to officially reveal its 2014 challenger in a launch at its Woking base and will hope to fight for championship honours having failed to even make it onto the podium last year.
With huge regulation changes set to shake up the order, Neale admitted that how teams respond to the changes would be key in the bid for success and said the team had been pragmatic in the approach it had taken.
“We've never had such significant new regulations before,” he said. “Reacting to them, and managing those changes, while still pushing the performance limits, has been an extremely tough job.
“We've been relatively pragmatic about it. We know that the need for consistency initially outweighs the need for performance – the winter tests won't be about chasing set-up or refining the car; the envelope of performance is likely to be so wide, and so relatively unknown, that the winter – and to some extent the opening races – will be about understanding the operational boundaries of the car as best we can.
“To achieve this, we need a consistent platform – one that responds positively to changes. Moreover, the work of the engineers and designers to understand and interpret trackside data will be more important than before. That's because this year, more than ever, will come down to a development race: I don't necessarily think you can expect the car that wins the opening race to be the car that leads the championship charge, something we've often seen in the past.
“It will be all about a team's ability to react and respond. We already have an update package that we're readying for race one, and we're discovering new things in the 'tunnel, or in CFD, all the time. Once we start track testing, I think you'll see an intense throughput of ideas and concepts – that's the nitty-gritty that will win or lose the world championship.”
With a mixture of youth and experience in a new-look driver line-up of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, Neale added that he was confident that the team had got it right with the two men behind the wheel.
“I really think the beauty of our driver line-up comes from its strength and structure through sheer contrast,” he said. “In Jenson, we have Formula 1's unofficial ambassador, somebody who provides us with an unprecedented databank of experience; we can really work with him as we learn together how to develop and refine this year's car.
“In Kevin, I see a raw, unfettered enthusiasm and a fearsome work ethic. His arrival has been a terrific motivator for the entire team, and I've been really pleased and impressed by the way he's thrown himself into the process. While he'll naturally need time to acclimatise, we're undoubtedly of the opinion that he's ready for F1.”