Eric Boullier feels judging Formula 1's pecking order is "more complex this year than ever" due to the number of different variables in pre-season testing, but is confident McLaren sits somewhere in the midfield.

McLaren's first extended running with new engine partner Renault yielded mixed results, with a number of reliability issues through pre-season testing in Barcelona being countered an impressive final time from Fernando Alonso, who was third-quickest for the winter.

Following three difficult years with Honda, McLaren is eager to return towards the front of the midfield after finishing ninth in last year's constructors' championship, but Boullier admitted it was difficult to judge.

"Obviously we are trying to guess where we are. It's difficult to understand because of the tyre situation, the temperatures, engine mode, fuel load - it's more complex this year than ever," Boullier said.

"It looks to me there are some teams who progressed well like Haas and Renault. I think the fight at the front will still be between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. The pack got closer, and we believe we belong in the middle of this one.

"I still believe we will be competitive in Australia. And obviously we have not done all the mileage we wanted, so we don’t have all the guarantee or confirmation about our real pace, as we still have not done anything to the limit."

The new F1 season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia on March 25.

 

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