McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says the pace of the car in recent races has been "more promising" than earlier this season.

After two strong races battling with Ferrari and Red Bull in Belgium and Italy, Singapore was a disappointing race for McLaren as the team picked up just one point thanks to Kevin Magnussen's tenth place. However, Boullier said it is clear the gap to Mercedes is smaller than it was at the start of the season and he has been encouraged by the car's pace if not the finishing positions.

"Although on paper our results from Singapore were very disappointing, the team has quickly refocused and we've taken many positives from the weekend which we aim to carry into Suzuka," Boullier said. "More than anything, our performance proved our total determination to succeed and fight right until the last moment.

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"Despite coming home with just one point, our lap times and race pace compared to the front-runners is certainly more promising than earlier in the year, so this is what we must focus on at Suzuka to keep up this momentum."

While Suzuka might not play to McLaren's strengths, Boullier believes the team still needs to target a better result than Singapore but will need to maximise the car's potential.

"For McLaren, Suzuka is a very special race. The Japanese people are so welcoming from the moment we step off the plane, and the whole team enjoys coming back to Japan each year. It's a circuit that the fans and drivers love, and its traditional slot towards the end of the season means we usually see some incredibly tense on-track battles.

"Suzuka is an interesting challenge in terms of set-up - getting the car's balance right will be the key to success. Our engineers are working hard to make sure we get the most out of our car this weekend, and our aim is to build on our improvements in Singapore and come away with a result that is more representative of our recent progress."

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Eric needs to be permanently posted to SW Approaches as an early warning for the (English) Channel Separation Zone - clearly he has vision capabilities way beyond that of the most sophisticated radar systems.