Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have played down McLaren-Honda's hopes ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, saying the circuit doesn't play to the strengths of the MP4-30.

McLaren showed more of its potential during the Chinese Grand Prix, but while Button scraped into the top ten during free practice and both cars reached the finish, neither he nor Alonso have broken out of Q1 yet and their race pace remains down on rivals.

With just a week's turnaround to the fourth round in Bahrain, though Alonso is certain improvements will be made, he is sceptical about its chances as a whole.

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"We go to Bahrain, and our aim is to keep building on this momentum with reliability, and of course to keep pushing for gains in performance, as we have been doing every weekend. In Australia, Malaysia and China we have seen big improvements each weekend, and although these two races are back-to-back, we will arrive in Bahrain and begin working on set-up straight away to maximise our potential at this circuit.

"This will be a challenging track for our car, for sure, but our first aim is to finish the race and take away as much data as possible to prepare ourselves for Barcelona onwards.

"We are certainly seeing progress all the time and the car feels great to drive, so we have a good base to keep developing. I'm looking forward to seeing what this race brings and getting the most from the weekend in every session."

It is a sentiment shared by Button, who says the characteristics of the Bahrain International Circuit - with its long home straight - don't suit the MP4-30 so well.

"Bahrain is always a really great event for the fans and it's a fun track to race on - I won there in 2009 and I enjoy driving there. Although our car isn't suited so well to this track layout, we'll still be pushing to continue our development as we look forward to the start of the European season and hopefully more gains in performance."