Trailing Red Bull in Australia, Eric Boullier concedes over-ambition and a torrid pre-season meant McLaren are not quite where they want to be.
Last year, Fernando Alonso stated several times that McLaren had one of the best chassis in F1, behind only Mercedes and Ferrari.
That, though, was not the case in Melbourne.
Although Alonso split the Red Bulls in the race results, his fastest lap of the grand prix was over a second slower than Daniel Ricciardo’s best.
“‘Fighting with Red Bull’ – that was last year and based on data,” Boullier said in an interview with BBC Sport.
“It is not [miming plucking something from the air]…
“Then over the winter you don’t know what the others are doing.
“Obviously Red Bull have I would say one of the best chassis. They did a better job than us.”
The Racing Director conceded that a torrid pre-season, which saw McLaren have just one trouble-free day during the second week, also played a role.
“That is one of the reasons why we are not where we would have been in an ideal world,” he said.
And that torrid pre-season he puts down to over-ambition.
“We pushed the limits a bit too far,” he continued.
“We underestimated the integration of the Renault and the energy we had to spend on this so we were definitely not prepared enough when we turned up in Barcelona. We are just about to be prepared when we came here.”
He added: “We pushed too late. We decided to keep the same strategy but we changed the engine. Everything we wanted to do [in terms of car design] if we had stayed with the same engine, we did it.”