Fallen giants McLaren split with engine supplier Honda a year ago after three miserable seasons, and the Woking-based outfit have placed high hopes on the Renault engine that powered Red Bull to three wins in 2017. "We will be the team that will progress [the most] relative to other teams, just because the integration to a new power unit will require time".
The two-time Formula One world champion said: "This weekend will be our lowest level".
"I'm happy with 11th, I think it's what we deserve, happy with it", said Alonso. "We still have some issues before we unlock everything so I think in the next coming races we can look forward to the season very optimistic".More news: European countries prepare to expel Russian diplomats over Salisbury attack
"It's going to be a different race for us - more in attacking mode and it's going to be fun", he added. Obviously it needs to last a little bit more than a year ago - only three engines per season with the new regulations - so I think Renault did a good job over the winter and we should be ready.
The McLaren driver finished 2.5 seconds off Lewis Hamilton's pole position time, but insisted his first qualifying session with the Renault-powered MCL33 had been positive.
"The most important thing was to go through our programme and we did that, and I'm excited about the possibility of running in a wet qualifying tomorrow".
McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne is set to join Alonso on the sixth row of the grid after qualifying in 12th place and reckons points are within the squad's grasp.More news: Seamus Coleman and Martin O'Neill heap praise on 'brilliant' Declan Rice
"I understand that we are not at the level of Mercedes now or the level of Red Bull or Ferrari - or that's what we think after winter testing - so we are not in that leading group yet".
"We're in reasonable shape for tomorrow, we had some good long run pace and hopefully, we can get some points".
"With the tyres we know that you always use the softs to start because they are better to start, you have better performance on the opening lap and there'll be little degradation as all three tyres are very similar so there's not a lot to play with there. Hopefully we can make a little bit of a difference in the race tomorrow".More news: Cambridge Analytica offices searched in UK