The reformed Renault F1 team is heading to the season-opening grand prix believing it has a shot at victory even if, in reality, it knows that a tough year in the midfield is much more likely.

With doubt surrounding the future of the team late last year, and then the necessary switch from Mercedes power as used by the former Lotus team, Renault entered pre-season testing unsure of what it would find, or where it would be in terms of the performance ranking, but left Barcelona in positive mood, despite some expected teething troubles with the RS16.

"I think, from that point of view, we are in pretty good shape," chief technical officer insisted, "We didn't have an excessive checklist [in final testing] because we didn't have a large number of development items, [and] the car that we had here is pretty much what we'll run in Melbourne, [although] there are some pieces that will arrive there.

"So that part of the programme wasn't particularly difficult to get through and, actually, we were very pleasantly surprised that, even though the car is clearly down on overall headline performance numbers, downforce and, probably, engine power, it actually runs very well, it's nicely balanced, it's consistent, it's very driveable, a very usable racing car which represents a very solid platform that we can develop upon.

"We didn't have to spend a lot of time chasing balance and set-up, which is a real blessing and means that we go to Melbourne with a lot of confidence that we can get up to speed pretty quickly there as well. It was good for the drivers, as they weren't chasing their tails - they could just get in and pound around."

While Mercedes and Ferrari appear to be the class of field after eight days of preparation, Bell maintains that Renault is not throwing in the towel just yet and, while it expects to find itself fighting for scraps, heads 'down under' with a much more combative philosophy.

"We're going to go into Melbourne as if we're in it to win it and that's what you do with every race," he claimed, "You just go in with the blind conviction that you can win it. There's no other way to approach racing - it's full on!

"But you have to be realistic and, it we come away having finished the race credibly, if we sneak into the top ten, we'll probably be pleased with that. But we'll go out there and give it 100 per cent wherever we end up. I think it will be an interesting season in midfield. It is very difficult to judge where people are at the minute, but it will be close and that is great, good for the sport."