Although he cuts a more optimistic figure than the one resigned to the back of the grid starts and massive unreliability that blighted his return to the McLaren fold in 2015, Fernando Alonso remains cautious when looking ahead to season two with the Woking squad.

Along with team-mate Jenson Button, the Spaniard had to endure McLaren's descent to F1 laughing stock as its reunion with Honda fell a long way short of expectation, but he admits that the 2016 pre-season has provided some measure of encouragement, particularly with the MP4-31 and its revised Honda V6 running more reliably through eight days of testing.

With both drivers agreeing that there has been a step forward from Honda over the winter, optimism is on the rise, but Alonso is quick to point out that there is still much work to do before McLaren can return to the heights of race winner and title contender.

With no more testing now before the season-opener in Australia, the team has already conceded that it will still be developing the baseline car in Melbourne but, while racing director Eric Boullier remained coy on what needed to be done, Alonso is a little more revealing.

"I think, on the power unit, there is still potential to unlock in terms of performance and in terms of [what] will come in the next engine," he ventured, "And then, on the chassis side, there are many things to be tested. Some new concepts that we have in the car aerodynamically, some new redesign at the back end of the car that we keep studying and we keep understanding how to use that area to maximise the potential. So we'll see."

The two-time world champion, who last won a grand prix with Ferrari back in 2013, also admits that, while testing has been more productive than last year, it remains at odds with other sports when it comes to preparing for competition.

"At the end of the day, I had three days on the car [because] I missed one due a mechanical issue," he pointed out, "It's a very unique sport in that aspect. It's like a tennis player or a football player who only touches a racket for three days and then competes in a world championship.

"For us, that's how it is. When we finish the pre-season, we always feel like there are still many things to test and many things to work on the car. And this is still the same feeling.

"I am happy with the job we did these last two weeks, but I am sure that, in the first two or three races, more potential will come just because we secure more and more track time."