The team is working flat out to recover from a troubled start to its 2013 Formula 1 campaign, but believes it is getting to the bottom of what has gone wrong with the MP4-28.
Having tried out a raft of developments at Shanghai, including new exhausts and sidepod configurations, sporting director Sam Michael said on Friday that McLaren's progress was encouraging.
"The signs are positive but we still have a lot of data to go through," he said. "From the driver comments and lap times it looked good, but we are controlled by data - and it always takes a bit of number crunching to work out what is what."
Michael hopes a major step planned for the Spanish GP can deliver the leap forward McLaren hopes for.
When asked by AUTOSPORT how far advanced the team's recovery was, Michael said: "Pretty far, but like everything it takes time.
"I think it will take the next two races, and by Barcelona we will have the next stage of that.
"There are lots of intermediate steps, some of them planned and some of them as a reaction to last couple of races."
Michael echoed remarks from Jenson Button that the team was still sure it could turn its 2013 challenger into title-winning machinery.
"We didn't go to Melbourne planning to come ninth, even with all those changes, but we are looking at it positively with this car," he said.
"The fact it is responding quite well to where we think we need to improve, hopefully we can show it is the right choice. Only time will tell."
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- Sam Michael