McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran says a change of the competitive balance between F1's mid-field teams could be in order in China given the specific characteristics of Shanghai's layout
McLaren was a top-ten contender in Australia and in Bahrain where the Woking-based outfit secured its first points of the season thanks to Lando Norris' run to sixth.
However, the Shanghai International Circuit - which includes F1's longest high-speed straight and several sharp corners, the combination of which poses a set-up conundrum to teams - may not prove to be an optimal hunting ground for McLaren's MCL34.
"The Chinese Grand Prix will again pose a new challenge to our MCL34," explains de Ferran.
"The nature of the street circuit in Australia and night race in Bahrain have worked well for us, however the Shanghai International Circuit has very different characteristics to these previous tracks, which could again shift the competitive balance between the teams.
"Regardless, there is no shift in our focus for China, which will be maximising each day of the weekend, hopefully making a step forward in performance and ensuring that we perform well on Saturday to give ourselves the best chance for Sunday."
Carlos Sainz, who found himself on the receiving end of some bad luck in the first two rounds of 2019, believes Shanghai will offer a more accurate assessment of the MCL34 chassis.
"I head to China recharged and ready to fight again," said the Spaniard.
"Our pace was strong in Bahrain, both in qualifying and especially at the start of the race.
"Unfortunately, I got hit and later on had to retire the car due to the gearbox, but I prefer to take the positives to China where the varied layout of the Shanghai circuit will give us an even better idea of the MCL34’s performance.
"Turn One is a challenging but fun corner and the long straight heading into Turn 14 should offer up some exciting racing opportunities."
Finally, as Formula 1's second most successful team, McLaren heads into Grand Prix racing's 1000th race with a proud sense of achievement.
"We will also celebrate the 1,000th F1 race in Shanghai, a fantastic achievement that proves the longevity of our sport," said de Ferran.
"McLaren is proud to have entered almost 85 per cent of those races and be a part of this history. Here’s to the next 1,000."