Renault will spend the time that its race team is engaged in the opening three races of the new Formula One season working on a suspension changes designed to get Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr on a par with McLaren and Ferrari.

That is the claim being made by Spain's which, like the rest of the nation, is keen to see Alonso battling it out with Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, the men who humbled him in 2007.

Although the R28 has not fared too badly in pre-season testing, ranking around fourth best on most indices, but Alonso has made it clear that the car lacks the performance needed to challenge the frontrunners, and has lost ground to 2007 rival BMW Sauber and the resurgent Williams as the pre-season development period has progressed.

Although the car remains largely unchanged since its roll-out, Renault continues to work away on upgrades, with reports claiming that perhaps the most influential, targeted at the rear suspension, could be ready to debut when the teams return from Bahrain in early April. Until then, the regie can expect to find itself mired in a expanded midfield group that could see it battling with BMW, Williams, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and possibly both Toyota and Force India is they continue to make progress.

According to Alonso, the car - which replaces the R27 which saw Renault slide away from the top positions last season - enjoys improved tyre wear, but struggles for grip and fails to get its rubber up to temperature in the opening laps of a race simulation. The team is now working on a solution similar to that employed by both McLaren and Ferrari, and which the report claims could claw back some of the effect lost when its mass damper system was outlawed during Alonso's last tenure at Enstone.

The upgrade, as well as the next stage of the R28's aero development, should be available for Alonso and Piquet to try during three days of testing planned for Barcelona the week after the Bahrain GP and, if successful, could appear on the cars at the first European round, at the same circuit, later in the month.