Daniel Ricciardo has revealed his focus during the Bahrain Grand Prix was to switch from a race programme to a test schedule given McLaren's woeful struggles.
The Australian qualified only 18th for the season opener after missing the final test through Covid-19 and being hampered by a water leak in free practice on Friday.
Starting on the medium tyres, Ricciardo fell to the back of the pack and went through all three compounds of rubber on his way to taking the chequered flag 14th of the 17 finishers.
Reviewing his race, Ricciardo said: "[It was] definitely tricky. I think as well, there is a lot to try and understand. I knew there would be.
"It is the first race distance I have done this year and trying all compounds in the race, I think it was trying to treat it like a test session as well, trying to learn as much as I could each lap.
"Obviously, we are lacking some pace. I think it is general, I don't think it is necessarily just one area. We lack a little bit of downforce and that is really the key."
Insisting the MCL36 has potential for the rest of the season, Ricciardo added: "I don't think the car really feels like it is massively out of balance.
"I think we are just lacking overall grip. I would say there are positives to take from that.
"If we just find the numbers, that will translate into a decent car, but obviously for now, we don't have the same numbers as the front teams."