Jenson Button says scoring points in the Australian Grand Prix "doesn't ease the pain" as his McLaren team struggle to get to grips with their new car.
The Briton finished ninth and added he didn't think the team could expect a turnaround until the championship reaches the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
"There's lots to do to challenge the front," he said. "We're a long way off.
"We're just not quick enough. To get back to the front is not going to be while we're racing outside Europe."
Kimi Raikkonen won the season-opener and there are just five days before first practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, while the Spanish Grand Prix on 12 May is traditionally where teams will bring big car updates.
Button, 33, added: "We didn't expect to get that many [points] but it doesn't really ease the pain.
"I think we're going to have a tough week. Malaysia is next weekend and we can't do too much before then. We're not suddenly going to be competitive.
"If we came away from Malaysia with the same number of points, we'd be ecstatic - but that's not McLaren. We should be further forward.
"Hopefully we can understand the car a bit more after the race today and extract a bit more performance. It's going to be a long night doing the debrief."
On Friday, both Button and team boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted that the team were struggling to get the best out of a car on which they have made major changes since last season.
As a result, the team found it hard in qualifying and the race, with Button's team-mate Sergio Perez finishing out of the points in 11th.
Button also lamented a decision to do a run in qualifying rather than sit in the garage and start the race on the tyres of his choice.
"We knew it would be a tough race because I destroyed my super-softs which meant the three other stints I did on the prime in the race were going to be very long," he said.
"I was holding on in the last few laps as there was no tread on the tyres - the finish couldn't come soon enough."
Despite the team's current plight, Button, the 2009 world champion, remained positive.
"It's not a great result, but us we did everything we could," he said. "We should be happy with our job today but not happy with the pace of car. We all need to pull our heads together to find a way forward.
"We've still got to aim for the World Championship. It's going to be very difficult for us considering where we are but it has to be the aim when you are driving for McLaren. It's just going to be harder than what we thought."