Fernando Alonso ambitions to see McLaren leave its mid-field rivals behind and join the battle at the front in the next couple of races.

Despite a disrupted two weeks of pre-season testing in Barcelona, McLaren achieved a good result in Melbourne in the opening round of the F1 world championship.

Alonso’s fifth-place finish in Australia, although helped by Haas’ double DNF, confirmed the potential for McLaren’s long-awaited resurgence with the help of new engine partner Renault.

The Spaniard will be pushing on however, and sees no reason why he won’t soon be snapping at the heels of F1’s trio of front-runners, starting with Red Bull Racing.

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“Definitely it’s going to be better and better,” Alonso said. “There’s a lot of potential in the car still to unlock.

“I think right now they’re still clearly ahead of us, they’re in that exclusive group of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

“But McLaren is willing to enter that group and I think in the next couple of races hopefully we forget the middle group and we look forward to [joining] that privileged three top teams.

“There is potential in the car, I cannot see any reason why we should not be there in the next coming races.”

Alonso assessed his team’s performance in Melbourne in the context of McLaren’s late switch to Renault power, and the progress that remains to be achieved in terms of integration with its power unit partner.

“We cannot forget that we decide to switch engines very late in the season so we had to redesign some of the parts that we already made at the rear end of the car,” Alonso said.

“I think the integration between McLaren and Renault still not at hundred percent, and in the next coming races we’ll see more and more potential.”

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