McLaren admit they have to switch focus to 2014 after failing to make Q3 at Silverstone
Whitmarsh, Button and Perez say they must be competitive next year
By Mike Wise at Silverstone. Last Updated: 30/06/13 6:10pm
Not that they'd ever come out and say it explicitly but the tacit admission from McLaren on Saturday evening was, 'We won't win in 2013'.
Jenson Button did say that their title challenge was over but the emphasis McLaren had placed upon the notion that either he or Sergio Perez might score a victory before the end of the season - one that they have continued to push in spite of their struggles so far - was played down.
Faces were glum and the talk instead was of 2014. Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said that they would continue to work on the riddle that is MP4-28 but conceded that its main purpose would henceforth be as a testbed for next season.
"Inevitably, we're at the point where we've got to ensure that we are in a competitive situation next year. We're also now, frankly earlier than usual, putting a lot more resource and effort on to next year's programme - which we need to do because of the whole new raft of regulations and we've got to be realistic about what's achievable," Whitmarsh said.
"Those of us that come racing are still racers - the drivers and all of us. So there's no give up in the race team. We're going to do everything we can to understand the car, make it quicker, make it better and then race as well as we can.
"We'll be pushing hard but we've got to realistic in terms of what our priorities are."
McLaren's hope was that their new car design - seen as a radical departure from that of its predecessor - would enable them to make bigger performance steps than their rivals.
Instead, they made a slow start and it's clear that McLaren are still treading water as a competitive proposition. Button qualified 11th and Perez 14th for Sunday's British GP, the eighth of 19 races.
"Over the years, we have won races every year we've competed," Button said. "This year, it's going to be a lot more difficult because of where we've started the season.
"We want to win grands prix because when you do, it's a very special feeling. That day, when you cross the finish line, you share that with the whole team that's been involved in the win. So it's a very emotional moment.
"But our main aim is to win the World Championship. That's something we cannot do this year - not many teams can - so I think it's a good idea that we're concentrating a little bit more on next year.
"We're still putting stuff on the car that's improving the car, because we think that will help us next year as well."
Perez added: "Success is not winning a couple of races, it's fighting for the Championship. I'm very sure we will be back there."
Whitmarsh also said that McLaren are no longer looking at developments, such as exhaust systems, that won't give any performance advantage in 2014.
"I think we've got to go back, try and keep it as simple as we can, improve it, develop it, learn from it; we're only going to apply ourselves in developments which give us learning lessons and help for next year," he added.