McLaren Honda's Fernando Alonso was left "very optimistic" following practice on Friday for the Bahrain Grand Prix and believes the team has "definitely" taken another step forward.

Alonso managed to set the seventh best time in FP1, and while the Spaniard then slipped back to 12th in FP2, he remained encouraged - especially given all of the team's struggles so far this season.

"We need to put many things in place [still], but all the things we are doing at the moment are putting us in the right direction," he confirmed.

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"Today we were 1.5 seconds to the leaders, so definitely a step forward again. Even if we do not have any magic parts in this race, four days from China, little tweaks, downshifts, upshifts, braking performance, things in the background, with hard work from the engineers, is putting some performance on the car, so we have to be very optimistic and happy with today," he underlined.

Despite that though, Alonso admitted it was a concern that team-mate Jenson Button had been hampered by two separate technical issues, limiting the Briton to just 2 laps in FP1 and 15 in FP2.

"Today I had a very smooth day without any problems, but unfortunately not the same for Jenson and we lost a bit of info there," Alonso continued.

"We shared an aerodynamic programme and we missed that information, so hopefully we recover tomorrow.

"We are in a period now where we are learning, and we saw today reliability is an issue, and still not 100 per cent sure for us."