Fernando Alonso expects the battle in F1's midfield to shift between teams this season, but the Spaniard is confident that Alpine will remain "in the mix".
Alonso suffered an unlucky return to the fray in Bahrain, where a sandwich bag stuck in a brake duct put paid to his efforts to achieve a top-ten finish.
Up until his retirement, the 39-year-old had enjoyed a "fun" race in which he indulged in a few spirited battles. The Alpine charger didn't see the checkered flag on Sunday, but he did get a chance to assess the impressive level of performance of F1's midfield.
"I think it's gonna be very, very close in the midfield," he said
"[At a] couple of weekends, I think it's gonna be better for some teams, maybe the next weekend, you have a better layout for a different team than the week before. So I think we will be in that mix."
Alonso qualified among the top ten in Bahrain while teammate Esteban Ocon failed to exit Q1 and concluded his race outside of the top ten. Despite the under-performance, Alonso isn't currently worried about his team's early form.
"I'm optimistic that we can have a good season, especially at some weekends I'm sure that it will play into our favour," he said.
"I was happy to race today so close to the McLarens in the first stint, in front of one Ferrari, and behind the other one, and I felt competitive in that group.
"If you look at qualifying, Leclerc was six tenths in front of us. But today, we were in that mix in the first stint.
"So I think there are positives to take from the race. And I think we have to be confident that we will have some good weekends before later."