Sam Michael has said that McLaren are likely to struggle with the rule changes coming in to F1 in the 2014 season.
Quoted on Autosport, Michael said: "When you have such a big change you will build in more margin than you would have previously."
The senior McLaren figure also highlighted the fact that 2014 will be a challenge because there will be no continuity from 2013.
He added: "Let's say we hadn't made changes, what you'd be doing is taking an extremely well known product and chipping away at marginal gains: a bit of weight here, a bit of friction there, some packaging.
"That has all gone out the window in 2014."
In an attempt to predict how teams would perform with the new rules, Michael said: "You'll be in one of two positions: you'll push it too hard and be unreliable, or you'll be too heavy and want to take weight out."
He continued: "The approach is one of risk versus reward, and both those things will take time."
2014 will see a massive change to the FIA regulations that govern the design of Formula One cars.
The biggest change is the shift from the 2.4 litre V8 engines - used between 2006 and 2013 - to smaller, more efficient 1.6 V6s. The changes are part of a drive to improve efficiency in the sport as the governing body acknowledges the need to reduce the sport's carbon footprint.
As with previous innovations in Formula One, the drive towards efficiency will set precedents that can be followed by the road car industry.
Michael also expects the current general reliability to change in 2014.
"Ultimately," he said, "you are not going to have the same reliability you have on the current cars."
Despite the caution expressed, McLaren are expected to perform well under the new regulations, as they take advantage of their relationship with Mercedes, who have promoted their V6, turbo charged engine for next season.
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