Fernando Alonso is refusing to read too much into McLaren's poor showing in last weekend's French Grand Prix, stressing the Formula 1 team has made significant progress since last year and that its struggles are being overplayed by the media.

Alonso was knocked out in Q1 at Paul Ricard and spent the entirety of his race running outside of the points before retiring due to a suspension failure with three laps to go.

It marked a new low point for McLaren in 2018, with the team having failed to reach the lofty expectations that were set following its switch from Honda to Renault power units for the new season as it continues to sit mired in F1's midfield, running one second per lap off the pace of fellow customer team Red Bull despite running the same engines.

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However, Alonso rejected suggestions McLaren's disappointing showing at Paul Ricard was indicative of its standing in 2018, instead saying it had been overblown and exaggerated.

"A weekend like that, the only problem is the media attention it attracts and the lack of normal conversation goes into the bad news or good news," Alonso said.

"Everything is exaggerated, especially in Formula 1 with all the polemics and all the things you need to sell every week.

"We had a quite poor weekend in terms of performance, uncompetitive on Friday, uncompetitive on Saturday, uncompetitive on Sunday. We are the first ones to know that, and we want to improve that.

"At the same time, we are not last. We are not getting worse and worse. We are not the worst team in the paddock. We are not these things that we’ve been hearing for the last three days. We are fifth in the constructors’ championship, I’m eighth in the drivers’ championship.

"All the other ones that are doing a perfect season, they are behind us, so maybe they are not so perfect and we are not so bad. We understand we have been uncompetitive, and we are the first ones that we want to improve that."

Alonso went on to say that McLaren's race pace at Paul Ricard had actually been competitive compared to immediate midfield rivals Haas and Renault, but that he was running out of position.

"If you see the results, we were not good on Sunday, it was our least competitive Sunday. But if you look at the race trace, we were quite competitive," Alonso said.

"I started last, I respected track limits on Lap 1, so I was last, then I changed for the back-up tyre, the yellow tyre on Lap 1. I was keeping the pace of the whole mid-group after the incident with [Sebastian] Vettel as well, I was last by 10 seconds - and even with that, when [Carlos] Sainz and [Kevin] Magnussen did a pit stop, they were just in front of us.

"The pace for the whole first stint was very similar to Sainz and Magnussen, which was definitely not on Saturday that we were 1.5 seconds behind them. On Sunday again we did improve a lot. If you look only at the results, we were out in Q1, 'let’s blame McLaren'. And on Sunday we were out of the points, 'McLaren is very bad'."

Alonso was once again quick to point out McLaren's improved points total after eight rounds of the season, rising from two points to 40 points, and stressed that big improvements had been made.

"Now we are fifth in the constructors’ championship and eighth in the drivers’ championship. The situation changed a lot and improved a lot," Alonso said.

"We are not where we want to be, and we want to improve. We want to fight for podiums, we want to fight for championships. We were thinking this year could be that transition to be close to the podiums and close to the Red Bull performance, and we are not. We realise that, and we accept that we need to improve.

"If this was the season to improve? Yes, it was, and we did improve massively. 400 or 500 percent more points than last year, so we are doing what we can."