Zak Brown says he wants to see McLaren fighting the so-called "top four" teams in Formula 1 by the end of 2023, but acknowledges that the squad won't be challenging them for position.
McLaren have endured a slow start to 2023, with their launch MCL60 design being hobbled until a upgrade package arrived in Azerbaijan, improving the floor of the car.
Lando Norris finished 'best of the rest' in Baku in ninth behind the eight cars from Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes, and while Brown admits the team won't catch this group in the standings, he does feel catching them on track is possible.
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Brown's McLaren target
"We would have liked to have been top four in the championship, but by the time we catch up to their speed, they will have pulled out a gap in the points that will probably be too big to overcome," Brown told the F1 Nation podcast.
"So in reality, we are in a fight for fifth with Alpine, and the others aren't very far behind.
"Our goal is to be mixing it up inside the top four by the end of the year, but given the head start [that our competitors have had] and slow start we've had, to actually get fourth in the points will probably be a tall order.
"We're fighting for fifth, and then our goal is to be racing inside the top four by the end of the year and then putting a better car out at the start of next year."
Red Bull currently have 224 points, Aston Martin 102, Mercedes 96 and Ferrari 78 as of the Miami Grand Prix, with McLaren and Alpine both on 14. The former are ahead by virtue of the best finishing position courtesy of Lando Norris' sixth in Australia.
The team came away pointless from a troubled weekend in Miami, where conditions were not suited to the MCL60 package.
"I think race cars can be temperamental in their characteristics, and obviously all the great race cars are good in all conditions," Brown explained of the car's fluctuations in performance.
"We have a car that doesn't like a lot of heat, we were kind of limited in Miami as it was hot and it was a new circuit, so it lacked some grip as a new circuit would.
"Miami was a circuit kind of like Bahrain that just doesn't suit our car.
"Obviously, when we get a better car, you want to smooth out where your highs and lows are and have a better average.
"Monaco will be better, we feel good about Montreal, and we'll start having some more significant developments coming around Austria and the British Grand Prix, so hopefully we are on track for a strong second half of the year."
Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to ask if Mattia Binotto could really join Alpine, what Pirelli's new tyres are about and the latest on the Red Bull-Ford partnership!