Eric Boullier has admitted that the final European races of the 2014 F1 campaign are unlikely to give McLaren an accurate read on hoped-for performance gains.
The Frenchman is optimistic that ongoing development at the team's Woking base will yield improvements in the MP4-29's potential, but explains that the circuits at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza are not the best at which to gauge upticks, leaving the Singapore Grand Prix as the first real marker for comparisons.
“Spa and Monza are tracks where every team runs a unique downforce package, so it won't be until Singapore – where we resume with a more conventional set-up – that we'll get a clearer read on our progress,” Boullier confirmed, “However, I think we have reasons to be optimistic.
“The operational changes we've implemented over the course of the season have taken time to bed-in, but I think we'll certainly see a more pronounced upswing in performance over these final eight races of the year.”
McLaren started the year on a high, with both rookie Kevin Magnussen and veteran Jenson Button being classified in the top three at the Australian Grand Prix but, with the odd exception, the rest of the season has been largely frustrating, with only the Canadian and British rounds yielding decent points returns.
As a result, McLaren heads to the Ardennes sitting sixth in the constructors' table, behind both a resurgent Williams and consistent Force India, but Boullier believes there is reason to be confident for the rest of the campaign.
“The first half of the season has shown signs of both promise and disappointment, but, through it all, Jenson and Kevin have each driven some particularly inspired races, made very few mistakes and always extracted the maximum from the package,” McLaren's racing director said, “Equally, the team has worked hard at both the factory and the racetrack to improve performance – and we're now starting to see those returns.
“We had a disappointing race in Hungary to send us into the summer break, but we've analysed the issues we encountered, and we believe we now understand what went wrong. More important, we all head to Belgium feeling positive and refreshed, and incredibly keen to get back to work.”