Lando Norris believes McLaren did well to keep the "much quicker" Alpine behind them in the championship standings until the French Grand Prix.
After closing in at recent events, Alpine jumped ahead of McLaren for fourth position at Paul Ricard at the end of a race-long scrap between the two teams.
Fernando Alonso led the way for Alpine in sixth, while McLaren pair Norris and Daniel Ricciardo sandwiched the other A522 of Esteban Ocon in seventh and ninth respectively.
It means the French team now hold a slender four-point advantage as 'best of the rest' behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
McLaren being behind Alpine is "more realistic"
As the 2022 season develops, Norris noted the importance of bringing upgrades if McLaren are to stay in the fight for P4.
"We'll look into all the updates and see what we did," Norris told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I think a lot of them were positive. I think we would have been even slower [in the race] and in an even worse position [in qualifying] if we didn't have the updates, so I think it's a lot of positives and we move forward.
"Alpine have been much quicker than us all season, they've just made a lot more mistakes, and we've done a very good job with a lot of things to be ahead.
"Now, being behind them is more realistic, and where we deserve to be with the car."
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Norris looking for improvements in race pace
Norris admitted to an element of frustration after his eye-catching fifth-place grid spot turned into seventh in the race.
"I guess after [qualifying] our hopes were just pushed up a little bit," he said.
"I think it was more because I did a very, very good lap to be in the middle of the Mercedes [drivers], and they showed they can almost race for a win.
"It shows the differences between people's paces in quali and races. For whatever reason, we maybe show a bit more pace in quali – the new tyres and low fuel hides a lot of our issues and problems.
"As soon as we get into high fuel and old tyres, all those issues are exposed and we're quite slow.
"You need a good package; you need one that's good in the qualifying and good in the race."
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