Eric Boullier is convinced McLaren will be in a better position to challenge at the front of the Formula One grid next year after a tough settling-in period with Honda.
The eight-time constructors' champions were a shadow of their former selves in 2015 as both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso struggled to be competitive.
McLaren's new Honda power units failed to have the desired effect throughout the year as the team finished with just 27 points, leaving only Marussia behind them in the constructors' championship.
Challenging for podiums and race wins next season appears to be a long way off, but Boullier believes the team will be in a better position than the rest of the paddock expect.
"If you want to beat Mercedes you need to be better than them," Boullier told Motorsport.com. "They have brilliant engineers, brilliant mechanics, a brilliant car, a brilliant engine, and brilliant drivers. It is tough to beat them.
"We have the same I think: we have the best mechanics, the best engineers, and the best drivers - but still not the best car and still not the best engine. So we need to work on these last two ones.
"Yes we have had to take huge pain, and it has been very painful, but I believe from next year already we will be much more competitive. And then you are back to the real race on track.
"I know next year's car is already better than the car we have on track now. So next year will be another step where we will be performing more. Everything is going to be better."