Fernando Alonso believes the 2019 McLaren Formula 1 car is “a step forward in every aspect” compared to last year’s model after first test outing of the year with the team in Bahrain on Tuesday.

Alonso retired from F1 at the end of last year to pursue challenges outside of the sport, but remained part of the McLaren family, leading to a test outing in the MCL34 car to try and aid its development. It marked Alonso’s first running in an F1 car since his final race in Abu Dhabi last November.

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The two-time F1 world champion was quick to praise the 2019 McLaren, saying he felt it was a step in the right direction after a difficult period for the team that saw Alonso finish no higher than fifth in four seasons.

“It’s a step forward in every aspect of the car. I think the car has more grip, the car is less draggy on the straights, and the engine is a bigger step better as well,” Alonso said.

“Overall, as a package, I think the car is on the right direction.

“Obviously we saw in the first two races there is still another step to do if you want to compete with the top three teams, but as a first step I think, hopefully consolidate as the fourth [fastest] team or lead the midfield together with Haas.

“That’s the target. I felt that on the car as well.”

While Alonso has refused to entirely shut the door on an F1 comeback, he stressed that Tuesday’s test running had not tempted him to make a return.

“I think what I had to achieve in Formula 1 or more than what I ever dreamed, it was achieved already in the past. No regrets,” Alonso said.

“If one day I come back in Formula 1, which I doubt because my decision is firm to stop Formula 1, it’s if I can win a world championship. That possibility is tempting for any driver.

“But to finish seventh or sixth, or even fourth, it’s not tempting still.”

Alonso will complete another half-day for McLaren on Wednesday in Bahrain, splitting running duties with Carlos Sainz Jr.

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