Ron Dennis says McLaren will be the team to halt Mercedes' dominance in F1, suggesting the forthcoming change in technical regulations will be its opportunity to claw back ground.
One of F1's most successful teams, McLaren has endured a steady decline since its last convincing title tilt – and race win - in 2012, with its much vaunted collaboration with engine supplier Honda in 2015 yielding its worst season in 30 years.
Despite this, McLaren chairman Dennis has maintained a positive attitude about the stuttering project, insisting McLaren-Honda has all the ingredients and investment to eventually prevail.
Even so, Dennis has raised the bar of expectation further by declaring McLaren-Honda will be the team to dethrone Mercedes as F1's front runner.
"I honestly believe that the next world champions after Mercedes will be McLaren,” he told the BBC
. “We'll get to that goal before other people. It is challenging but I have a firm belief in the technical competence of our people and a firm belief in Honda."
Sensing the upcoming change in technical regulations for 2017 as the opportunity for McLaren to close the gap to the front, Dennis feels justified in his lofty expectations.
"The 2017 regulations level the playing field and it is enough time for us to catch up with Honda, so I think we'll have a good chance next year.
"I think we can win races. I don't want to predict world championships but I do feel that dethroning Mercedes-Benz is going to be a challenge for everybody and I have reason to genuinely believe we'll get there before anybody else."
McLaren's fortunes plummeted in 2015 on the back of its revived collaboration with Honda, with the returning Japanese manufacturer struggling to get a handle on the V6 Hybrid regulations, leaving the much maligned MP4-30 underpowered and unreliable.
A step forward over the winter has seen McLaren enjoy a solid opening to the 2016 season with four top ten results from five races comparing favourably with the six top ten finishes it managed in all of 2015, while Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have repeatedly stated the chassis is as competitive as the front runners.
Though not formally ratified, next season will see an overhaul in the technical regulations with revised aerodynamics and tyres, as well as engine tweaks.