McLaren Mercedes racing director Eric Boullier has played down his team's chances ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, conceding it is likely to be as competitive in the Middle East as it was in Malaysia.

Having finished second and third during the Australian Grand Prix opener (pending Daniel Ricciardo's appeal for his exclusion), the team had hoped for a similar result at Sepang, but instead had to contend with a run to sixth and ninth.

A disappointing downturn following a season opener that briefly saw it top of the constructors' standings, with just a week's swing between races in Malaysia and Bahrain, Boullier admits the team is unlikely to show a 'significant change' in the order at the Sakhir circuit.

"Although we didn't enjoy the same level of competitiveness in Malaysia as we had in Australia, we nonetheless took home 10 valuable world championship points. That's not enough, but it's better than some of our competitors managed.

"At the moment, we concede that we don't quite have the performance to take the fight to the front-runners, but the considerable in-cockpit abilities of Jenson and Kevin, and the ever-impressive resource, motivation and competitiveness of our race team, mean that we can expect to be in the mix on Sunday.

"Since the Bahrain Grand Prix will be taking place just a week after the Malaysian race, we don't expect to see a significant change in the competitive order, so our main aim will be to ensure that we have a faultless weekend from a reliability and operational standpoint. Despite the short interval between the two races, we'll be incorporating a small number of design tweaks, nonetheless."