Fernando Alonso says there is no reason to expect anything but another weekend of damage limitation for Ferrari at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Spaniard lost his Formula 1 points lead in China last weekend, when he could only finish ninth as Ferrari's lack of pace proved insurmountable in dry conditions - preventing a repeat of Alonso's surprise Sepang win.
In his diary column for Ferrari's website, Alonso warned the team's supporters to expect more of the same at Sakhir, both due to the nature of the track and the lack of time to make progress between the back-to-back races.
"I am well aware that in Sakhir, we can expect another difficult weekend, which is only natural, partly because of the track characteristics and also because the car is the same one we had in Shanghai," Alonso wrote.
"Both the Scuderia and I have a good record in Bahrain: the team has four victories here and I've got three, the last of which was also my debut race for the Prancing Horse. But the past counts for nothing in this sport and this weekend will be all about damage limitation for us."
Alonso, who is now third in the championship, eight points behind leader Lewis Hamilton, remains unwilling to rule Ferrari out of title contention, but admits it needs to find a significant step forward in pace with some urgency if it is to stand a chance.
"The championship is very open and there are a lot of teams that can aspire to victory, but clearly we need to make a leap forward to be more competitive if we want to aspire to coming out on top at the end," he said.
"We have to take the step forward as soon as possible. I have faith in the team and I know everyone at Maranello is giving their all so that we can reach this objective."