Jenson Button concedes McLaren are unlikely to bridge the gap to the top overnight, but he hopes the team can chip away and stay in the title hunt.
Three races into the season and Button is already 40 points behind Championship pacesetter Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. Although the points difference can be wiped out in the space of two races if things go his way, McLaren's MP4-28 just hasn't been fast enough to keep pace with the front-runners like Ferrari, Lotus, Red Bull and Mercedes.
The Woking squad, though, have showed that they are taking steps in the right direction with Button coming from eighth on the grid at the Chinese Grand prix to finish fifth.
The next stop is the Bahrain GP this weekend, but most eyes will be on Barcelona in three weeks' time as most teams will be taking major upgrades to Spain.
Button insists he has not ruled out a bid for the World title, but he knows the importance of building on their current package.
"Barcelona is always important, and for us it needs to be a good step forward - not massive, but in the right direction," Button is quoted as saying by Press Association Sport.
"If we can keep building on the package, and if it is in the right direction, it does work and gives us a few tenths then that would be great. I know what's coming and I don't think it's going to give us the nine tenths of a second we need.
"But as long as it does what it's supposed to do then we can start developing with that package.
"But if you think you are bringing a certain amount of lap time to a circuit and it doesn't work, then you have to look at the reasons why it's not working. That's a bigger issue.
"If we get what we think we'll get in Barcelona, then that will be a positive and we can move from there. But I'm not ruling out anything with regard to the title just yet."
While most teams' 2012 challengers are an evolution of last year's cars, McLaren went for a radical approach and it appears to have backfired as they finished last season with two race wins while they are nowhere to be seen so far this year.
Although he admits it has "hurt" the team, Button maintains it was the right decision and feels they can still turn it around.
"What we have done with the car is the right thing," he said. "It has hurt us a lot, especially at the first race in Australia, and it might still do that.
"But the idea was always to develop a car through to the end of the season, and we felt at the end of last year we were at the end of everything we could do with it.
"The one thing that surprised us is that nobody else went down the same route. We're the only team to have done it. We expected all of the top teams to do the same thing so we didn't think we would lose anything at the first race.
"So that's what has hurt us, costing us a lot of points, but the Championship is still completely open.
"If we can turn it around in a few races and be fighting at the front, then that is very encouraging for the rest of the season."
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