Esteban Ocon believes Alpine had the potential to hold up Ferrari in the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Alpine showed good pace on the fast Jeddah circuit throughout the weekend, with both Ocon and Pierre Gasly securing spots inside the top 10 on the grid.
On race day, Ocon fell back from sixth place to claim eighth at the flag, leapfrogged by both Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc as Gasly took ninth to make it a double-points haul for the team.
Given the disaster of Ocon's season-opener in Bahrain, the Frenchman was pleased to finally be on the scoreboard, and felt a challenge to Ferrari was not out of the question.
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Ocon's season started
"I'm happy to finally start my season, let's call it that way, it was a strong weekend for us," Ocon told media, including RacingNews365, in Jeddah.
"For us, we maximised qualifying and the race as well.
"We couldn't hold [onto] the cars in front really, but we thought at some point it was going to be possible to hold the Ferraris, but they pulled away in that middle phase of the second stint.
"So we just managed the pace to bring the car back home, so a strong weekend as a whole, but we need a little bit more to be able to catch the cars in front.
"That's exactly where we were [in the race], so hopefully, we understood plenty and can come back stronger in the next [race]."
Alpine finished 2022 as 'best of the rest' in fourth place in the Constructors' and were the closest team to breaking into the so-called 'big three.'
However, the team has been overhauled by the massive leap in performance from Aston Martin, who are fighting for regular podiums on merit - Fernando Alonso eventually claiming a second consecutive third place after his penalty was overturned.
Ocon admitted that the team were not happy with their current position, but that solace could be found in the fact that Aston had made such a big step.
"We can't be satisfied with where we are at the moment," he said.
"There are a couple of teams that have improved massively over the winter, so it shows that is is possible and we need to keep fighting.
"We need to keep digging, to keep thinking, the atmosphere inside the team as well, but now, we can't be satisfied with where we finished."
Join RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken as they discuss all the key talking points ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.