While Carlos Sainz concedes that Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will be the pace-setter, he says it is up to Renault to close the gap and challenge for fourth.
Ferrari led the timesheets in pre-season testing thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s 1:17.182 with Red Bull and Mercedes looking strong.
“Mercedes looks very quick out there,” Sainz said.
“That’s nothing to hide from there – it looked quicker and it seems like they put the car on track a bit like last year and like always really, but that’s not a secret.
“We know that Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are going to be ahead and fighting for the win in Australia.
“That is not our concern; our concern is to be closer to them and cutting that gap little by little through the year.”
Renault mixed it up in the midfield with Haas and Toro Rosso while surprisingly Force India did not show the pace that yielded back-to-back P4s the last two years.
Asked if he felt P4 would be possible for Renault this season, Sainz replied: “Of course [fourth] can be possible but it’s going to be difficult. The midfield as always has very high competition.
“We already see people like Haas and Toro Rosso doing very decent lap times, so it is going to be particularly tough but we will try.”