Fernando Alonso doubts Alpine will be fighting Williams on a regular basis over the summer despite the spirited battle enjoyed by the Spaniard with George Russell in last weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.
After qualifying an impressive P8, Russell drove a flawless and solid race that put the Briton on course to score his first championship point with Williams.
But a late charge from Alonso put paid to Russell's efforts just four laps from the checkered flag and allowed the two-time world champion to snatch the final spot among the top ten.
Alonso was almost remorseful of ruining Russell's dream as he had witnessed firsthand his rival's amazing drive which followed the Briton's previously impressive but all too brief performance in the Styrian Grand Prix.
"I was hoping it was anyone but him on that last spot," said the Spaniard. "I had much better tyres, much better traction and I could make the move.
"He will have more opportunities hopefully for podiums or wins in the future."
Despite the praise, Alonso doubts he'll be fighting a Williams for points in upcoming races, believing that Russell's impressive display at the Red Bull Ring was in part due to the track's characteristics that catered to the British outfit's car.
"I think they have made a step forward, but also we checked last year in Austria, they started 11th, so it seems to be a circuit they perform really well at," said Alonso last weekend.
"So I think we need to wait a couple of races to see if they are fast or not. But here last weekend, they were closer to us, and this weekend, we had a little bit more margin.
"I’m happy with the progress in these two weeks. It is up to us to keep it going into Silverstone.
"If we can repeat this kind of performance, it will put us in top seven or top eight, and that is a step forward for sure."
After a difficult start to his comeback to F1 with Alpine, Alonso's appears to have settled in with his new team while improving his pace with each passing race.
But the 39-year-old explained why he isn't holding himself or his team to any specific targets for the second half of the season.
"The second part of the year is a wait in terms of performance for 2022," Alonso said.
"A lot of teams will put all their effort into 2022 cars, so what we get and what we see every weekend is going to be not too different in the next race.
"There are no clear targets in terms of championship points or constructors’ championship. It seems we are settled at the moment. We will fight with AlphaTauri and Aston Martin for fifth place for sure.
"But I think it is more building the team structure, making fine tunes on the pit stops, on the strategy, on the tyre management, and many things that the we can to be as prepared as possible for 2022.
"On the car side, it is up to the factories to produce the best package, but here trackside, we need to optimise everything and be as close to perfection as possible."