Fernando Alonso has claimed that his current performance is at the same level as it was at the start of the campaign after only qualifying 10th for the Japanese Grand Prix.
In the opening rounds of the season, Alonso scored a flurry of podium results and enjoyed a dream start to his tenure at Aston Martin, bagging six top-three results in the first eight races.
However, Aston Martin has slipped back in recent races to the fifth-best team, with Alonso only scoring one podium since Canada in June, and is instead fighting for lower grid positions and points.
In Japan, the AMR23 was on the bubble of a Q2-Q3 elimination, with the two-time champion only securing 10th on the grid at Suzuka.
Despite the slump in competitiveness of the package, Alonso says his performance levels remain as high as ever.
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Alonso continues qualifying streak
"I think the same throughout the season, but at the beginning of the year, I was fighting for nine or 10 points, and now I'm [fighting for] four or five, but I'm at the same level,” he told media including RacingNews365 of his performance levels.
“It’s like Max [Verstappen], he didn't wake up this weekend and drive back on the top [as if] in Singapore he was just sleeping.
“He was P11 in Singapore and he was the best of all of us. He’s on pole [at Suzuka] and he's still the best.
With his P10 qualifying position, Alonso has retained his streak as being the only driver in the field to make it into Q3 at every round this year.
However, the 42-year-old was forced to work to continue the record, as he narrowly missed out on the cut-off in Q1 and Q2.
"I think on paper, we were right to be concerned about the high-speed corners and the nature of Suzuka," Alonso said.
"As we are in Qatar as well, we know that on paper, maybe Qatar is not also the best circuit for us.
"But even on difficult days, we still managed to be in Q3 thanks to a very good lap.
“This type of qualifying, it will be unnoticed by many people, but I'm very proud."