Fernando Alonso believes Aston Martin need to be prepared to get back to Formula 1 "reality" after their Bahrain Grand Prix podium.
A strong pre-season test and practice in Bahrain had Alonso earmarked as Red Bull's closest challenger at the season-opener, although Alonso would only qualify fifth.
In the race, he was embroiled in a battle against the Ferrari and Mercedes cars, meaning a challenge on Max Verstappen was not possible.
Alonso did, however, take third place after the retirement of Charles Leclerc and passes on Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton.
Despite this, the two-time World Champion believes that the team need to be realistic about where they are, and expects they will get a better picture after the next two races.
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"I have the same feeling from testing, like, [it is] too good to be true," Alonso explained to media, including RacingNews365.com, after his 99th career podium.
"You're always expecting that you will get a step back and you will get back to reality, but it seems real, the performance.
"Let’s see in Jeddah. I am curious to go to Jeddah and Australia.
"[They are] very different circuits, and I think Max touched on before, [they have] high-speed corners and very little [tyre] degradation.
"I think in Bahrain, we were strong in things that maybe we don't find in Jeddah, and Australia. So, if we are strong in the next two races, I think we will have a very good 2023."
Bahrain's Sakhir circuit has a mixture of medium and low-speed corners that are largely not found at the fast street circuits of Jeddah Corniche and Albert Park in Melbourne, while Sakhir is also one of the most abrasive track surfaces of the entire season.
Hope of a 33rd win
A winner of 32 Grands Prix – and seventh on the all-time wins list – Alonso has not claimed a win in F1 since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix with Ferrari.
When asked if he felt a 33rd win was possible in 2023, he was optimistic that it might be.
"I would say yes because when you are P3 in race one, there are 22 [more] opportunities this season," he said.
"Even last year, I remember in Canada, [there was] a wet qualifying and we were on the first row of the grid, so anything can happen in 22 races with different conditions.
"I will try my best to have the opportunity, maybe we need some help, last year we needed some help from the top teams just to get to the podium.
"Maybe this year, if there is this help or some retirements or problems in front of us, maybe it is more than a podium – so let's hope for that."
Let us know if you think Alonso will win in 2023 by voting in the poll and in the comments section below!
With Red Bull having cruised to a 1-2 finish in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken analyse how much we should read into their early dominance.