Martin Whitmarsh insists it is too early to write off McLaren despite a disappointing qualifying display for the British Grand Prix.
Jenson Button will line up in fifth with Lewis Hamilton 10th after an ill-timed flurry of rain mixed up the grid behind the two Red Bulls at Silverstone.
"We did not put on a competitive showing in qualifying," said the McLaren team boss. "Our car is not quick enough and that's how it is.
"But we are not going to give up on Sunday. We are going to try and win races. We are not giving up on the championship."
McLaren regularly run a 'Meet the Team' session for the media after qualifying, but at Silverstone Whitmarsh took the unusual step of delaying the first question to make an impassioned plea to keep faith with his team.
McLaren are the only team apart from Red Bull to win a race this season, with Hamilton winning in China and Button taking the chequered flag in Canada.
Nonetheless, the team have been criticised for their inability to close the gap on the runaway leaders, particularly in qualifying, and there has been speculation that Hamilton is looking for a way out of the team that guided him to a world title in 2008.
"Please understand we know it's difficult, we know they [Red Bull] are quick, we know we're not quick," added Whitmarsh.
"But we are not going to give up. We are not resting on our laurels.
"There is no team in the world that can recover a situation as quickly and strongly as this team."
McLaren are believed to have lost out most from a controversial decision to ban a technology called off-throttle blowing of the diffuser which helps to improve downforce.
Whitmarsh conceded: "We suspected we were going to get hurt and we certainly have been."
But there was another explanation why Hamilton starts down in 10th - his lowest qualifying result of the season.
Unlike Button, Hamilton did not get a run on a new set of soft tyres before the rain fell in the final phase of qualifying and if he had, he would have been much closer to his team-mate.
"Lewis did a fantastic job but in Q3 the team made, in my view, a mistake," Whitmarsh added.
"Lewis went out on used option tyres at the beginning and we let him down. Jenson coped with it very well."
"Is it going to be difficult to beat the Red Bulls? Yes, it is going to be very, very difficult. Is it going to be difficult to beat the Ferraris? Yes. But we will be tough enough and resilient enough to power through."
Despite his disappointing performance in qualifying, Hamilton refused to be downbeat about Sunday's race.
"We are a team and we will pull through it. We are the only team that has been able to bounce back from situations like this," said Hamilton.
"Today of course for the fans and the public here we would love to be sitting on the front row.
"We will pull back, regroup and tomorrow anything can happen with the conditions today.
"A miracle might happen tomorrow and we might still get our one-two."
Button, who has never finished on the podium at Silverstone in 11 attempts, added: "I don't think fifth is too bad but the pace is. It wasn't a perfect lap. The balance of the car was not quite there."
"I don't know where our pace has gone; I can have a guess but we haven't built a car that's 1.3 seconds slower than the Ferrari.
"Hopefully we can get our act together on higher fuel tomorrow and be competitive because I've never been on the podium here before and I'd love to get up there."