Jenson Button thinks McLaren can be confident about its race chances for the Korean Grand Prix because of its strong long-run pace in practice - but is under no illusions about how tough it is going to be to make progress.
The former world champion will start 11th at Yeongam after failing to make it through to Q3, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton is third on the grid.
Although McLaren was no match for Red Bull in qualifying, the team thinks race performance could fluctuate significantly because of the tricky tyre management situation.
Button said: "The long run on Friday was great. I was very happy with it. We didn't really know what to expect on that tyre because it is obviously a super soft on a circuit that is very demanding and normally has very high degradation.
"But we were able to look after the tyre pretty well and be consistent with the laptimes. But it is very tricky because it's not just the rear tyres; it's front and rear tyres that you are struggling with in terms of wear degradation.
"It depends on what balance you have with the car. We had a good balance [in practice] and hopefully we can carry that through to the race."
Hamilton does not have as much experience of the long-run form of his car, but expects to get a sense of its race potential within the opening laps.
"I haven't done a long run," he said. "I have struggled a little bit this weekend with some set-up. P1 was probably the best session I had, and then Q3 on that last lap. Between it was kind of a little bit messy.
"But I am glad that I was able to extract everything from the car in Q3. And yeah we've definitely made a small step this weekend and we just need to keep pushing that way."
He added: "I guess during the formation lap we will just try and see where the balance is - and determine how much wing you put in or take out and set the settings on your steering wheel.
"Otherwise a good start would help and from there hopefully [we'll make progress]... There are two long straights so positioning is going to be important. But scoring good points is definitely possible for us."