Fernando Alonso has downplayed Ferrari's chances of another podium finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, despite believing a 'slow recovery' could still get his team into the title hunt.
On the day that Mercedes singled out Ferrari as its main threat for the title, Alonso was more cautious about the potential of the team.
However, he said he had no expectations of being able to repeat the top-three finish that he delivered at the Chinese GP a fortnight ago.
"We cannot start the weekend thinking to be on the podium or thinking to win the race," he said.
"That will be creating wrong and false targets to everyone that will come here.
"We finished ninth and 10th in Bahrain, and we did a podium in China because we put some things together that Sunday.
"So it is not that we are in a position now that we will fight for the podium here.
"We will do our best. We know it will be a tough weekend, and you never know, it is sport, anything can happen, but today sitting here if I tell you I will fight for the podium, probably I will lie to you and I don't want to do so for all the people that are coming."
Despite playing down prospects for this weekend, Alonso reckons Ferrari had the potential to close down on pacesetter Mercedes, and he hopes it could happen before the German manufacturer is too far ahead in the title chase.
"We must do anything we can to close that gap and become competitive," he said. "That will not happen between one race and the next one.
"It will be a slow recovery and hopefully not too late when we become competitive in terms of points to fight for the championship. So let's do it race by race.
"China was a combination of things, and good luck to get that podium.
"Here in Barcelona is a good point to check how competitive we are, a circuit with different characteristics again and a circuit that will give us an answer or some of the parameters where we need to find some answers.
"Then there is Monaco, Canada, completely different circuits. We are in a moment of the championship and we need to ask many, many things in terms of how competitive we can be.
"But if they [Mercedes] count on us for the championship fight, it is good news as they respect us. But we need to deliver if we want to become a threat."