What is the correlation between struggling in the top 10 for the first four races of the season and the new design approach that McLaren have taken for their chassis in 2013? That's what managing director Jonathan Neale says the team is dedicated to finding out.
The short answer, as offered by pundits in the press and elsewhere, is that the new pull-rod suspension could be the glaring spanner in the works. If Ferrari are any indicator, however, they have proven the pull-rod can work but not before suffering a lackluster season in 2012 trying to coax the performance from the design. Neale told reporters:
"We are essentially trying to sort out a correlation issue," he said during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes teleconference.
"It's really important that we sort out the issues with the car and the correlation.
"All of the time you've got that lingering doubt of 'hang on a second, what went went wrong, where did it go wrong and how do we fix it?', you've got the opportunity for it to arise again."
Key to the understanding of the issues in order to correct them and salvage a 2013 season, the team says that the 2014 season is in play with the correlation issues they are attempting to solve according to AUTOSPORT.
We've put the question of Paddy Lowe's gardening leave to former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley and he corroborated that Paddy would be the man to go to for sorting of the pull-rodd design and to resolve the correlation issue but with him firmly planted at home, it is up to the team to muster the grey matter and might to suss the issue and solve it.
There is little doubt that McLaren will bring a phalanx of new development parts to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix but the capital T truth is that all the other teams will as well. The first race back in Europe always signals a rush of new kit and McLaren's real challenge is to solve their issues as well as surpass the performance of the opposition. Perhaps correlation and opposition should be the two terms the wordsmiths in Woking add to their lexicon.
To those ends, Neale remain realistic about the developments they will use in Spain and the results they hope to see:
"The other thing is we're not working in isolation here, and while of course it's very natural that people want us to predict that we're going to be on pole position, it's a tough sport and the competitors don't stand still. Quite what will be delivered depends on what everybody else will be doing.
"It's impossible to predict and unwise to try to do so."
Perhaps McLaren driver Jenson Button put it best when he told the press:
"There'll be elements that work, elements that perhaps work in a different way than anticipated and elements that don't work. That's life."
Button does believe that returning the circuit in which two of the three pre-season tests were performed will give the team immediate data in which to measure their progress:
"It's been difficult for the team to make consistent progress in the first four races," he said, "but I think returning to a circuit where we undertook two of the pre-season tests will give us a useful benchmark for our progress so far.
"There's been a lot of talk about the importance of next weekend's upgrades but, as with every upgrade, they're simply part of the series of continuous improvements that are made across the season."