Zak Brown admits that McLaren is currently on the back foot with its 2023 contender having failed to reach proposed development targets.
While reliability has been excellent thus far throughout the paddock, it must be admitted that McLaren has had more than its fair share of issues.
Furthermore, while pace isn't an issue at this stage, both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have struggled with a car that appears nervous, and certainly doesn't sit as well on the track as the Aston Martin.
Speaking to reporters in Bahrain, Zak Brown has admitted that the team is currently on the back foot, but that upgrades further down the line should help.
Asked exactly how much on the back foot he thinks the car is, Brown admitted: "It's hard to know until we get going.
"We know we set some goals for development, which we didn't hit," he continued, "and we felt it was better to be honest about that. Like everyone, we have a lot of development coming. So, we are encouraged by what we see around the corner. I think we will be going into the first race off of our projected targets, but it is hard to really know where that means we will be on the grid."
Not wanting to kill off the team's hopes entirely before a wheel has even turned in anger, despite Andrea Stella's admission at the launch that he wasn't "entirely happy" with the car, Brown insisted: "We want to be in the top four by the end of the year.
"Last year was a bit disappointing," he added. "Our aspirations are to get back to the front, we know that will take a little bit more time, all the technology infrastructure is either in or going to be pretty much completed this year.
"We have some good developments coming," he added, "but so does every other single team in F1. We need to pick up the pace."
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