Fernando Alonso feels after McLaren-Honda's recent performance gains its aim must be to break into the top ten pole shootout in qualifying to climb through the midfield ranks.
The two-time F1 world champion is relishing the prospect of his home Grand Prix in Barcelona and is intrigued to understand how McLaren's updates will perform compared to the team's pre-season efforts during winter testing.
After taking his first points finish of the year last time out in Sochi, Alonso is keen to maintain that momentum and feels making it into Q3 in qualifying, something McLaren has failed to do all season, will be key due to the Circuit de Catalunya's characteristics which make overtaking tricky.
“Our performance in qualifying is something we're working on all the time, to give us the best chance in the race," Alonso said. "Getting into Q3 will certainly be difficult at this track, but, with the Spanish fans behind me, that's got to be our aim.
“We're still learning a lot about our package as we visit each track, so it's useful that we already have a lot of data from testing there that we can use to understand its characteristics and how our car will react to them.
“It's a fast circuit, so it's certainly demanding for both the car and driver. The power unit, too, has to work very hard with such high average speeds."
“As always, reliability is a priority first and foremost, but I hope that the upgrades we'll test on Friday will see us continue to push race by race, and allow us to keep fighting towards the front alongside our rivals in the midfield.”
Alonso will use an unchanged power unit configuration after Yusuke Hasegawa confirmed Honda's development work is still ongoing and it has not decided when it will opt to spend its token updates.
“After an eventful few races, and after a good result for us in Russia, I'm looking forward to going 'home' to Barcelona and race in my country in front of my home fans,” he added. “The atmosphere there is always incredible for any Spanish driver, and I have some very special memories from my wins there in 2012 and 2013.”