McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button believe they will catch Red Bull soon but admits it could be “several races” until they overhaul them.
Hamilton’s comments come after Sebastian Vettel swept to his third consecutive Chinese pole position and was more than seven-tenths quicker than Button.
Vettel has been in supreme form recent having won the last four races, three of them from the front of the grid.
And Hamilton, who qualified third in Shanghai, just behind Button, has warned McLaren need to win the off-track development battle if they want to seriously challenge for the end-of-season honours.
“We’re doing our best to catch up,” said Hamilton when asked if Vettel would continue to dominate.
“It’s encouraging for us to have been on the first and second row for the first three races, considering where we were in winter testing.
“It is possible but I’m sure it will take several races, probably, before we get to where they are now.
“But I’m sure they will also make many, many steps forward, so we will continue in the chase, and hope that our development rate can be as fast as theirs, if not better.”
Button said he felt if any team could catch Red Bull, it would be McLaren.
“There are 24 of us on the grid and there’s only one person that’s ever going to be completely fulfilled with their race result,” he said.
“We are in a better position than anyone else on the grid to challenge the Red Bulls. We should be happy with that and what we’ve achieved so far this year.
“This is a team that will never give up. They’ve fought for so many World Championships and they have the resources, they have the manpower and they have the passion to really fight for this.”
And world champion Vettel is well-aware that the up and coming European season will give Red Bull’s rivals a chance to catch-up.
“I think once we go to Europe then it’s a bit easier to bring the parts, customs are less strict,” Vettel said.
“I think that to stay where we are now we have to keep pushing hard because I can assure you, people like McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari are not resting at this stage, so we have to keep pushing at least as hard as they do.”
Quotes from Press Association