MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is telling his local fans to keep their expectations low for this Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.
The two-time former Formula One champion downplayed his third-place finish three weeks ago in China and said progress is going slow for Ferrari as it tries to make up ground on Mercedes.
"If I say we will fight for the podium I will probably be lying to you, and I don't want to disappoint our fans," Alonso said on Thursday, a day before practice begins at the season's first event in Europe.
Alonso sits third in the standings with 41 points after Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton swept the first four races of the season. Rosberg leads the standings with 79 points with Hamilton four points behind.
Ferrari's last win came at Montmelo one year ago when Alonso got his second career victory on the circuit. Since then, it is on its longest streak without a victory in almost two decades after Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel dominated the end of last season before Mercedes took the lead this year.
Alonso has yet to crack the top three spots in qualifying so far in 2014, while Kimi Raikkonen has fared even worse in his return to the team that he won the world title with in 2007. The Finn hasn't finished in the top six spots in any race, and has also lacked speed in qualifying.
"We finished ninth and 10th in Bahrain and did podium in China because we had some things (come) together on that Sunday, but it is not that we are in a position to say we will fight for the podium here," Alonso said. "Barcelona is a good point to check how competitive we are."
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