Carlos Sainz says he expects McLaren could be fighting for the top positions before long, provided it can get more power from its Honda power unit.

The Toro Rosso driver was speaking with regards to the increasingly tight mid-field pack and the steady emergence of the improving McLaren-Honda entry, saying he has had a chance to race against the car and study its potential.

With this in mind, Sainz says the McLaren is 'clearly well-balanced', adding that he cannot catch Jenson Button or Fernando Alonso through the corners. As such, should Honda be able to extricate '80bhp' from the power unit, Sainz believes McLaren will have a front running car on its hands.

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"Looking at their genuine pace, they are clearly another step forward," he said. "I think they have a great car with a lot of downforce. They just need that top speed that we also need to make the difference. I can see them fighting now for that top ten.

"I followed them in testing, in Melbourne and Malaysia and in the corners I don't catch them. You can clearly see they have a well-balanced car and has a lot of potential. It wouldn't surprise me that, if they can bring 80bhp more, they can suddenly be in front of us and even at the top."

As yet, McLaren hasn't scored a point in the opening four rounds as it brings its new car up to speed, but an upgrade planned for the next race in Spain is expected to haul it further up the