McLaren chief Ron Dennis believes his team is getting closer to hitting the sweet spot of its Honda-powered MP4-30, which will allow it to "light up".
Dennis came away from the Hungarian Grand Prix buoyed by the car’s performance that he believed had the potential to secure a top-10 grid slot, even before Fernando Alonso secured a confidence-boosting fifth place, with Jenson Button ninth, in the race.
“I think what we took away from the weekend most is our pace,” Dennis told Motorsport.com. “We had problems in qualifying which masked the potential to be between 8th and 12th. And our race pace was good.
“We overtook a lot of cars and we had pretty good car balance. Now the work that we have been putting into not just the car but the engine will star to flow into the next few races.
“We will definitely have another step in Spa, and then I think it will get progressively better.”
Tyre temperature the chassis issue
Dennis confirmed that the main problem his team has encountered, apart from the issues with Honda’s new powerplant and ancillaries, has been a lack of tyre temperature to switch the control Pirelli rubber ‘on’.
“One of the things that we wrestle with is the tyre temperature,” he explained. “We just don't have the level of overall performance to generate the heat in the tyre.
“I think once we get past the specific spot in relationship to getting the tyres to work – the car will light up.
“It occasionally happens in the race. There is still a long way to go, but we will get there.”
Summer break comes at a good time
After a punishing start to the season, which had been its worst in modern-day history, McLaren at least now currently equals its 1980 position of ninth in the constructors’ championship.
Dennis admits that keeping the team inspired, which has been accustomed to high levels of success, has been difficult.
“Maintaining motivation in the team in these sorts of situations is challenging,” he allowed. “But it is really there. It can either pull the team together or it can separate the team.
“And I think in the end, we are still very, very cohesive with Honda and everybody in the team. And this will be a good mental break as well as physical break before Spa.”