McLaren boss Zak Brown is predicting a tough season for the papaya squad, insisting his team could be overhauled in the pecking order by a couple of its midfield rivals.
After several years of underperformance, McLaren enjoyed an upturn in 2019, finishing fourth in the Constructors' standings and 'best of the rest' behind F1's trio of front-runners.
Brown hopes McLaren can sustain its momentum, but the American is expecting a tough campaign, where execution will be the key to fending off its midfield competitors, with Racing Point and Renault seen as the team's biggest threats.
"I do think this year is going to be tougher," Brown told Sky F1's Vodcast on Wednesday.
"Racing Point are clearly very quick with what appears to be last year's Mercedes, and one would think it would be quick because it won the championship last year!
"They're going to be very tough and I think they made the most off-season progress.
"Renault were very quick, Alfa [Romeo] were quick, AlphaTauri put in a very quick time at the end of testing and Williams showed a lot more pace than they did last year.
"So I do think this year is going to be tougher than last year and I could see us being fourth, and I could see us sliding to sixth because others have challenged.
"I think it's going to come down to reliability, drivers continuing to do a good job, team executing, because I think there's not much pace difference between the cars."
How McLaren will manage its efforts over the busy summer will also weigh on the team's track record, with Brown admitting that his crews' focus has so far been on spare parts rather than updates.
"We'll be bringing some toys as often as possible," said Brown. "But because of the frequency of racing, we've probably been focused more on spares than updates - I think a lot of the teams are because we're going to be doing three races in a row on the trot.
"So we're going to make sure we have all our spares and then of course in Formula 1, to tackle the expense side of the sport we're now limited on upgrades for this year and next year so I think we'll do the best we can within the rules. But it's definitely a new environment.
"Hopefully our car's strong. We were happy with winter testing but that midfield is going to be tighter than ever."