Lando Norris has admitted that he is "expecting pain" this year after McLaren placed 14th and 15th at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
The team, which found themselves topping the timesheets during pre-season testing in Barcelona last month, struggled to find pace all weekend long in Sakhir.
Daniel Ricciardo was unable to make it out of Q1 in the first qualifying session of the campaign, while Norris posted only the 14th-fastest time.
The pair fell down the order on race day, with the cars at one stage running in 17th and 18th, before retirements for Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez helped to lift them up the order.
Norris: We'll have to get used to where we are
Norris is not expecting to see McLaren make progress any time soon, explaining in no uncertain terms that the team will have to get used to being at the back-end of the pack for the moment.
"I'm expecting pain and I think everyone needs to know that there's probably going to be a bit of pain," said Norris, speaking to select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com.
"As McLaren, and myself, we expect a lot more, but it's just not what we have at the minute. This is where we are, quite simply. We just have to get a little bit used to it now.
"I guess we've been in this position a few years ago, but I'm hoping we can remain more optimistic that the team and everyone back [at the factory] can figure things out, and we can get back on track."
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Norris has faith in McLaren and James Key
Norris has confidence that McLaren, armed with Technical Director James Key, will find the root cause of their problems and eventually deliver the necessary upgrades to cure them.
For now, it leaves the team dropping big points to their rivals during a weekend that saw Alpine, AlphaTauri, Haas and Alfa Romeo all finish inside the top 10.
Norris continued: "I still believe that some tracks will be better for us. I'm hoping this is as bad as it gets; it might not be but it could be.
"I believe we still have a lot of time. We've still got a whole season of development and figuring things out, but it's just not easy to do.
"Once we figure out what's going on and what's wrong, then it's all about implementing it and bringing upgrades. The figuring it out is the hard part.
"But it could come by a third of the way through the season, halfway through the season, three quarters – I don't want to believe it's not going to be at all this season."
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