Fernando Alonso says Spa-Francorchamps represents a 'tricky' challenge for the McLaren-Honda team, conceding that improvements from the upgraded power unit won't necessarily be seen over the next two power-focused races.

Though Honda will be introducing a significant update to its power unit at the Belgian Grand Prix, the Japanese firm's motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai says penalties are likely as it pairs the engine to the McLaren cars for the first time this weekend.

Indeed, Alonso accepts Spa-Francorchamps and the following Italian Grand Prix at Monza is unlikely to clearly demonstrate the improvements made over the summer break, though he remains confident it will ultimately lead to a step forward for the team.

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"It feels great to be back," said Alonso, who finished a season's best fifth ahead of the summer break at the Hungaroring. "After Hungary, we were all really encouraged by the outcome; although we were fortunate to have had some good luck, we still battled hard and finished the race with a positive result."

"Spa will be tricky for us, due to the configuration of a track that requires power, downforce and a big chunk of the lap spent at full throttle

"The next few races will be important for us: we need to continue our forward momentum, and, with the addition of some tweaks to the car and power unit, we will be looking for more progress and good correlation between the simulator and our on-track performance. That might not necessarily appear above the surface in either Spa or Monza, but we'll keep pushing development forward at each race."