Fernando Alonso's return to F1 has been a rather low-key affair so far, but the confident Spaniard continues to believe that he is still capable of driving "better than ever".
Alonso's first two races with Alpine were a batch of mixed fortunes. In Bahrain, the 39-year-old qualified among the top-ten, outpacing teammate Esteban Ocon, but drifted down the order in the race until his retirement due to a brake issue on lap 32.
At Imola, the two-time world champion lined up a lowly P15 on the grid and finished just outside the points, later admitting to having been disappointed by his performance.
Speaking to the media ahead of last Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix, where he scored his first points with Alpine, Alonso said his opening performances haven't eroded his belief in his ability to race successfully at the highest level.
"I'm still thinking the same – that I am at one point in my life where I feel good, and I feel capable of driving better than ever," he said.
"But, that doesn't mean that you don't find difficulties while entering a new adventure, or in this [case a] comeback.
"At the same time, I had one weekend where I was not totally comfortable – in Imola.
"And the problem is that in Formula 1 there is a lot of media, a lot of articles, and unfortunately two weeks between races, because if it was back-to-back from Imola to [Portimao], there [would have been] much less talk!"
Except for the great Niki Lauda, comebacks in F1 have historically been challenging affairs for those returning to the grid after a multi-year hiatus.
But Alonso fends off the statistics and urges his doubters to take stock of his results at the end of the year.
"I don't tend to agree with this, and things are getting bigger than what it is," he added.
"I was the first to admit that I was not 100% in Imola, and not comfortable, and probably underperforming.
"But it was one race, and one race that with that underperformance I finished two tenths of a second behind my teammate!
"So, you know, it cannot be a big thing. At the end of the year, we talk.
"At the end of the year, if I underperform the whole season, and everything was more difficult than expected, ok, maybe there is a point to really discuss and go deep into the questions of why it is more difficult than the previously or something.
"But, in Bahrain, I was happy and probably overperforming, in Imola, underperforming."