Lando Norris has defended McLaren's 2023 F1 car after the team seemed to face some difficulties during pre-season testing.
New team boss Andrea Stella had acknowledged prior to February's test in Bahrain that the team were "not entirely happy" with the launch-spec MCL60.
They went on to complete the least amount of laps of any team during testing, after which Norris admitted that the squad had struggled with "many things".
However, with the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix weekend about to begin, Norris has downplayed the idea that McLaren are in a "bad position".
Norris assesses McLaren's chances
"Honestly, I don't know the exact numbers yet," Norris told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked where the team might place in the pecking order.
"We don't know exactly yet where we're going to be, so a bit of it is just [to] wait to see where we are this weekend and kind of go from there.
"I don't think we're in a bad position, which is the main thing. We're just not in as good of a position as what everyone would be expecting and we were probably expecting from ourselves.
"We're expected to have taken a bit of a step from where we were last year and that's just something that we've not necessarily done, compared to some of the other teams around us.
"It's not that we've made a worse car or anything. We're just not as far up [as we would have liked to be]."
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Norris hopeful for McLaren upgrades
With McLaren hoping to bring upgrades by the time of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 30 April, Norris is optimistic about the possible impact of this but admits that the team should have had this ready sooner.
"I never want to say too many things until those [upgrades] arrive. That's one thing I've learned about Formula 1," the Briton said.
"But at the same time, the season will start now, it's as simple as that. As much as we want to believe it maybe starts later, it's starting now and we're behind where we should be and where we want to be.
"What we're going to be having in Baku should be what we're starting the season with. If you want to be a top team, we should have started the season with those kinds of parts which are coming.
"But, until then, we just do the best we can to make the most of what we have now. It's the same as every other team and what their objectives are.
"I think no matter where we are – if we are 10th, if we're 15th, whatever – we remain optimistic that we can make progress later on in the season."
Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth analyse where each of the F1 teams stands after pre-season testing.