The Spaniard and fellow world champion team-mate Jenson Button finished a quiet 12th and 13th at the Chinese Grand Prix. Although their team’s tyre strategy was not optimum, both MP4-31s struggled for overall pace around Shanghai International Circuit.
Despite making substantial headway compared to last year’s torrid campaign, McLaren-Honda has yet to return to points-scoring form, as it had taken a race of attrition in Bahrain for reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne to finish P10.
Having already called for improvement “in all areas”, Alonso thinks the Woking-based outfit can turn its fortunes around by making it into Q3, with McLaren yet to appear in the final phase of qualifying this year.
“The next three or four races are crucial for us because we need to make the final step to put us in the top seven or top eight cars on the grid,” the 34-year-old said. “If you start in the top ten you then follow the leaders and finish in the points, but when you start two behind it's always more difficult - more traffic, more things to invent, so we must improve in the next couple of events.
“You need to follow the leaders, follow that pack - if not you're out of sync with them and stuck in traffic in the race and that's killing your strategy, so we need to make this final step, that final half a second, seven tenths that will put us a couple of positions in front.”