McLaren Honda's Fernando Alonso says he will be "better than ever" this season and "is preparing as never before."

McLaren took a step forward last year and scored almost three times as many points as in 2015, but despite that progress, the Spaniard remains cautious and knows victories or podiums could be a big ask.

"Victories? I think we have to be cautious," Alonso told his fans on Instagram, according to Spain's AS.com.

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"I have read that Zak [Brown - McLaren's new boss] said this year that it will be difficult to win, well... who knows? I keep positive. I'm better than ever, I'm preparing as never before and I'm going to go for it. Who knows what will really happen, I'm going to do it all.

"We have to be careful [because] in the races at the end of last year we were a second or a second and a half off Mercedes. It's a brutal gap and we must be cautious [as I said].

"We will see the result at the end. It is too early to make predictions."

Pressed on if podiums might be possible, he added: "Podiums? I wish, I wish..."

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Meanwhile, Alonso added that Mercedes will go into the season as favourites, although with all the rule changes this year, we might see a few surprises.

"Surely Mercedes are on a trajectory to lead having won the last three world championship as they have done. Then Red Bull will adapt well to the new rules, but we will have to see how we all adapt. We really do not know still. F1 is always an unknown, but this year that is even more so."

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