After an inconclusive and perhaps even worrying performance at Jerez, the faces in the McLaren garage are looking happier as the second group test progresses this week in Barcelona.

"We're in a much better position than we were this time last year," confirmed Lewis Hamilton after Wednesday's running in the MP4-27, "and also better than we were two weeks ago in Jerez.

"We have learned a lot; the car is much better balanced now. I can say that we have a stronger base than last year," added the 2008 world champion.

According to Britain's Mirror newspaper, Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button agreed: "There are no excuses this year. I feel we have everything.

"We're on target," said the 2011 championship runner-up. "There's nothing to say we're one and a half seconds quicker than anyone, but then there's also nothing to say we're not fast."

Red Bull's reigning back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel is quoted by the Telegraph as saying he thinks McLaren will be "strong straight from the beginning of the season".

Added Mercedes' team boss Ross Brawn: "Red Bull will have a strong car again, and so will McLaren.

"Ferrari seem to be having a few difficulties," Auto Motor und Sport quotes him as saying, referring to his former Maranello based employer.

Red Bull reserve Sebastien Buemi, having watched from a trackside position on Wednesday, said Fernando Alonso looked uncomfortable with the handling of the F2012.

"I think we are probably not the quickest today," Spaniard Alonso agreed, "but neither are we the slowest.

"At the moment we are not where we want to be, nor where we want to be in Australia, but I remain optimistic.

"We just have to hope that we have completed this learning process we are going through with a very complex car by the time the season starts," Spanish reporters quote the former two-time world champion as saying.