Fernando Alonso says small improvements to his Ferrari may make a big difference given how tight the field is following the Australian Grand Prix.
Alonso and his team have found themselves further away from the top than they were hoping for, with the Spaniard starting the race from
The two-time champion, however, put on a superb performance in the race to finish in fifth position.
Alonso conceded Ferrari is in no position to fight for wins at the moment, but he reckons gaining a few tenths may make a significant difference as the field is very closely matched.
"There's no doubt we are lacking pace to fight for victory right now," Alonso told Spanish reporters after the race. "We can't hide the fact that we were out of Q3 yesterday and today we were far from the best, so it's a tough start to the championship.
"Today we salvaged a lot more points than we expected. We only lost three or five to the favourites and a few more to Button, but maybe there will not be a clear dominator like last year and maybe no one will open such a big gap as Vettel did in 2011.
"That could be good for us. But we have look at ourselves and improve tenth by tenth. There are maybe 12 cars in the same second this year, so gaining two or three tenths is much more important than in the past. So that's what we have to do for Malaysia and China."
Alonso admitted he did not expect to be able to score 10 points after having qualified down in 12th, and the Spaniard said he was very happy with the result given the circumstances.
"It's been a good race in which we scored more points than expected," he said. "In that sense, I'm very happy to be behind the Red Bulls and the McLaren having started from 12th, which was hard to predict. It's been better than expected. Everything has gone well from the start.
"The strategy was perfect. In the first stop we overtook the Mercedes and we nearly overtook Vettel. And then in the second stop we covered Rosberg and it worked out well. Webber passed us with the safety car, so he was a bit lucky with that. Then at the end with Pastor he was quite faster than me and I had some problems to defend my position.
"I felt sorry when I looked in the mirror and saw he was out because he deserved fifth or sixth. But it was also a relief."