McLaren aim to halt Red Bull title charge at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Vettel's team can clinch constructors' title in Abu Dhabi if not stopped
The McLaren team go into this weekend's unique day-night Abu Dhabi Grand Prix believing they can prevent the runaway Red Bull express from clinching the constructors' world championship with three races to go.
McLaren sporting director Sam Michael said differing track characteristics from one circuit to another could see rampant Red Bull's advantage wiped out and give other teams a chance to win.
However, he admitted that it would be very difficult to catch them in the title race.
After four consecutive wins, including last Sunday's comprehensive demonstration of supremacy from defending drivers' champion Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull sit atop both championships after 17 of this year's 20 races. Vettel, who has reeled off those four straight wins for the Milton Keynes-based team, has 240 points to lead his nearest rival, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, by 13 points.
In the teams' title race, Red Bull lead by 91 points with 407 - ahead of Ferrari on 316 and McLaren on 306 - and will take the title if they leave Abu Dhabi with a lead of 86 points, or 87 if a McLaren driver wins the race.
This allows for many different permutations for title success, but the minimum for Red Bull is to finish first and eighth, or second and third, to take the title.
Michael, however, believes there is a good chance that McLaren, or Ferrari, can postpone any celebrations on Sunday night.
"The performance can swing from one track to another by a couple of tenths," he explained.
"There are two or three tenths in terms of qualifying, and if you have that performance from [starting on] the front row, then you have a better chance. So if no one upgraded cars, there would still be a reasonable chance you can have a go at [Red Bull].
"But in terms of the overall championship, it is quite different, because they need to have DNFs [did not finish] for people to take the title and the chances of that happening are pretty slim."
McLaren have demonstrated competitive pace and consistency in recent races, but will need to find some additional performance to threaten to wreck Red Bull's dream of claiming a third consecutive constructors' championship and then seeing Vettel crowned as the youngest triple champion of all time.
If McLaren finish Sunday's race in the points, they will set a new record of 56 consecutive points finishes - moving one ahead of Ferrari.
That record may be enjoyed, but it will hardly be celebrated by a team who are desperate for major success and have felt outshone in recent years by Red Bull's surge to glory - an era of domination that began when Vettel seized his first title at the amazing Yas Marina Circuit two years ago.