Alfa Romeo admit they are "very encouraged" by their pace following Valtteri Bottas' strong drive in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Despite having limited running in Saturday's Free Practice 2 due to earlier mechanical issues, the Finn finished the Sprint in P7. In the main race, Bottas kept the momentum up and started to close in on George Russell in a fight for P4 during the latter stages of the event.
Whilst he was unable to find a way past the Mercedes, Bottas ended the day in fifth, and the team currently hold the same position in the Constructors' Championship standings.
Pujolar reflects on fight with Mercedes
Xevi Pujolar, Alfa Romeo's Head of Trackside Engineering, admits that Bottas' performance at Imola is a positive sign for the outfit, though remains cautious of believing that they can continue to battle at this level, given Mercedes' struggles over the weekend.
"It is very, very encouraging for us," Pujolar told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked about the pace of the C42 car.
"But the thing is, the question mark is [over] what happens when they're all fighting there? That's what, at the moment, we don't know until we are there fighting with them.
"For sure, when we [were] fighting with the Mercedes [of] Russell, it was a bit difficult on the straights."
Pujolar acknowledges that, ahead of the upcoming inaugural Miami Grand Prix, the level of performance may also vary from race to race.
"In Miami, it can be different," he said.
"Miami will be [a] different format on the race weekend so, hopefully, if we can start further up on the grid, that will help."
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Alfa Romeo identify main rivals
Despite the duel with Mercedes at Imola, Pujolar believes that Alfa Romeo's main rivals are two other teams on the grid.
"For us, the challenge is fighting especially with Alpine and McLaren," he explained.
"That's our next target and, so far, I think we have shown that we are getting there. We go there this weekend [at Imola], and it's possible we can do it.
"I don't know what they will introduce in Miami, for sure everyone is pushing. But I think it's a healthy competition, and good for everyone."
F1 Podcast: Are Red Bull now favourites and has Hamilton hit a new low?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher look back over the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Red Bull triumphed, Ferrari hit trouble and Mercedes struggled.