McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says the team’s high-profile upgrade package set to debut at the Spanish Grand Prix will be used as one step in a season-long development plan as it looks to resolve its weaknesses.

Having set high targets for 2018 after securing its Renault power unit deal, McLaren has fallen short of its expectations at the start of this year. Last year Fernando Alonso said he expected McLaren to be capable of challenging victories having seen the Renault-powered Red Bull secure race wins.

At the early rounds this year McLaren’s best result has been Alonso’s fifth place in the Australian Grand Prix – finishing over 27 seconds behind winner Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso

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McLaren have been noticeably off the pace of its fellow Renault power unit rivals in qualifying, with neither Alonso or teammate Stoffel Vandoorne breaking into Q3, while ongoing investigations in its technical department has ushered in a reported reshuffle.

Initially McLaren had played down its pace deficit, which in race trim hasn’t been as present, and had expected the issues to be cured by its upgrades for Spain but Boullier opted to dampen expectations on its updates for the upcoming race.

“Like most teams, we’re planning to bring some new parts to the car to test on Friday and decide which of these to take forward into the rest of the weekend, and the coming races,” Boullier said. “While for logistical reasons Barcelona was the most logical time to implement these, it’s part of a season-long plan to develop the car as we always do until the final race.

“We’re taking each grand prix weekend step-by-step, and hope we can begin to address the challenges we know we face with our package. We’re all gunning for a positive weekend for both cars in front of Fernando’s home crowd.”

Central focus to McLaren's predicted upgrades to arrive at Circuit de Catalunya is a radical new front wing and nose design which both drivers are expected to test during Friday's free practice sessions.

Last year McLaren repeatedly felt it had one of the strongest chassis packages on the F1 grid but its underpowered and unreliable Honda engines were curtailing its efforts.

The Woking-based team has already outscored its entire 2017 F1 points haul this year after just four races, while Alonso produced an impressive charge to seventh place despite ending the first lap of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on two wheels after an early incident.

Barcelona GP Sizzling Moments

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