Fernando Alonso believes McLaren has the capability to produce the best chassis on the grid by the start of the European leg of the season in May.
Much of McLaren’s woes last year were linked to an underpowered Honda engine and ERS, with the team convinced that it had a strong chassis.
Now, Alonso feels McLaren can take a step forward and beat frontruners Mercedes and Ferrari in the chassis department.
"I’m very proud of the team, of what we achieved in the past couple of months," Alonso said.
"I think the target to have the best car, the best chassis, is reachable, is something very possible. Maybe by the European races or something like that, and motivation is very high. So who knows.
"There is not a magic solution or a crystal ball, but I would like to be competitive and to be fighting for something important. But honestly I don’t know,’’ he added.
Alonso’s comments came after the Spaniard enjoyed a positive first day behind the wheels of the MP4-31, completing 119 laps of the Barcelona circuit.
Asked whether he could make out noticeable improvements in the Honda engine, the 34-year old said: "Definitely yes but this is let’s say an answer that I had no doubts," he said.
"We could not have any doubts, the starting point of the power deficit we had compared to top teams was just too high, we did improve all areas of the car.
"I think on the aerodynamic side there are some parts which are quite innovate or new, maybe the others they had these ideas in the past but for us they are new and we need a little bit of time to mature the project, the package, and in the power unit the same thing.
"Last year was a lot of learning, a lot of pain, but we learned many things and now with a new design and philosophy and power units we still need a little bit of time for understanding and to exploit the potential."
by Rachit Thukral