Honda's probably feeling quite smug about now.

McLaren has defended its team's 'ambitious' F1 car design, despite the reliability failures that have marred its pre-season testing programme.

The team's switch to Renault power this year has not got off to the start that it had hoped for, with wheel nut, cooling, battery and turbo problems having cost it valuable running.

Fernando Alonso's final day of testing on Friday was hit early on when he stopped with a turbo problem, and the team elected to change engines in a bid to get him back on track as quick as possible.

Also check out:

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33

But despite failing to hit its mileage targets for the two Barcelona tests, and admitting that some issues have come from it pushing its packaging to the limits, racing director Eric Boullier does not think his outfit has made a major error.

'We want to be competitive and we are ambitious,' he said. 'We have an ambitious design around the car and you can see that the car is a little bit different from the other Renault-engined cars. So far we had minor issues but I think that was because we didn't do a good job enough to prepare the car. We were a little bit stretched in terms of lead time and delay – but these are our issues. Very quickly we are going to get back to normal.'

When asked if McLaren should have been more conservative with its 2018 F1 car, he replied: 'Again, if you want to be competitive you have to be a bit aggressive and ambitious. Is it too much? I don't think so. We just have to make sure we, in this strategy, leave us enough time to do everything. That's the only point, I would say.'

Boullier did confess, however, that the stoppages McLaren has suffered in testing mean he cannot guarantee the team will be on top of its reliability issues by the Australian Grand Prix. 'No. Not 100 percent sure because we have not run as much as we wanted, so there will be a higher risk of failure somewhere,' he said. 'Nevertheless we had only minor issues which were all different. A good rebuild of the car for Australia will help us to fix a few issues.'

McLaren's reliability woes have prompted some to suggest that the Woking-based outfit is not as ready for a step up the grid as the team had hoped for. But Boullier thinks it is far too early to write its hopes off. 'Let's wait and see,' he said. 'If you judge based on a few issues on three days, it is better to wait a few races.'

You might also like: