Sepang (Malaysia):The troubled McLaren team were well off the pace again in Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday, but said progress was slowly being made.
After Heikki Kovalainen failed to finish at the season-opening Grand Prix in Australia and world champion Lewis Hamilton was later disqualified, the team were hoping for better here.
Hamilton only qualified 12th and Kovalainen 14th but there was a glimmer of hope that they were turning the corner.
"We don't yet have the pace to get into Q3 (final qualifying session) but the balance doesn't feel too bad - we're just unable to carry enough speed through the corners," said Hamilton.
"We expect to see some improvements over the next two or three races. For sunday, I'm just going to race my heart out, do the best I can and try and score some points." Kovalainen echoed similar sentiments.
"We knew that getting into the top 10 would be tough, so my result was more or less what I expected. The gap to the cars in front is smaller than it was in Melbourne, so I'm confident that we're headed in the right direction," he said.
"But we haven't yet found that extra bit of speed we need."
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said grip continued to cause problems.
"We always knew that qualifying would be difficult around Sepang because the MP4-24 lacks the aerodynamic downforce needed to match the top teams," he said.
"That's no fault of either Lewis or Heikki, who have driven faultlessly all weekend: they just lack the grip needed to get the most from the car through the high-speed corners."
McLaren have had a tough time in Malaysia with sporting director Dave Ryan suspended on Friday and sent home for his role at a stewards' hearing into Jarno Trulli's overtaking of Hamilton in Melbourne.