McLaren MD Jonathan Neale confident team can win races

Jonathan Neale

McLaren are confident they can win races this season despite their uncompetitive start to the year.

The team are introducing a major upgrade to their car for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix and hope it will move them closer to the front-runners.

Managing director Jonathan Neale said: "Nobody at McLaren underestimates the importance of getting back to winning ways and I'm confident we get do that."

Neale refused to comment on whether the team still had a chance of the title.

"As for the championship, that's a long way out at the moment and I think we'd be better placed to comment on that as we head towards the summer and the shut-down period," he said.

Any hopes of the title are already a long shot - McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez are 10th and 11th in the championship after the first four races, 64 and 67 points behind the leader, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

McLaren's best result so far is a fifth place for Button in China.

McLaren made major design changes to their car for 2013, while most of their rivals took a more evolutionary approach to their cars.

But the new car has suffered from a lack of aerodynamic downforce and poor ride. Neale said on Wednesday that the problem had been caused because the car did not behave on the track the way simulations in the wind tunnel had suggested.

This is a problem that has also afflicted Ferrari in recent years, and led to them starting last season in a similarly uncompetitive position to McLaren's this year.

Neale said: "I believe it's really important we sort out the issues with the car and correlation because all the time you have got that lingering doubt as to hang on, what went wrong there and how do we fix this, you've got the opportunity for it to arise again.

"And I'm sure if we sat down and had a quiet conversation with our colleagues in Italy and said 'how did the first quarter of last season feel for you?', they would understand with some clarity what we're going through at the moment."

McLaren have been low-key about their expectations for the upgrades this weekend and Neale said that was understandable.

Sergio Perez and Jenson Button

"None of us want to be a hostage to fortune. Setting ourselves up for a blow on the chin from you isn't very funny," he said.

"The other is we are not working in isolation here and while of course it is very natural you and a number of other people will want us to predict that here we come, don't worry, we're going to be on pole position and we'd very much like that to be the case.

"It's a tough sport and the competitors don't stand still and what will be delivered depends on what the others will be doing.

"So it's just impossible to predict and unwise to do so. So I'd rather talk with some effort about what we are doing and what we have achieved rather than what we will achieve. That's just common sense."

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