Alfa Romeo Formula 1 boss Fred Vasseur hopes that updates over the next few races will allow the Swiss-based team to target McLaren and establish itself as the best of the midfield runners.
After a run of disappointing races in France and Austria, Alfa was beaten only by the Woking outfit in the pack chasing the established top three.
At the Red Bull Ring last weekend Alfa had two cars in the points for the first time in 2019 as Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi both made Q3 and finished ninth and 10th, albeit beaten by the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.
“I think we did a good step forward over the last two or three races,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com. “We have to improve a little bit the pace to be able to fight with the McLarens, which will be the next target.
“If you look at the last few races they were ahead, but we have good updates in the pipeline. For sure we need to do a step forward to fight with them in the races.
“We have a package for Silverstone and some other updates for Germany and Hungary, but we have to be realistic, everybody is pushing like hell, and they will also bring something.”
Vasseur said Giovinazzi’s improving form was a big boost after a difficult season for the Italian rookie.
“Antonio is also able to score points now, so it’s good for the team. He needs it, because the last few races he was very strong in qualy, he was matching Kimi. At the same time the races were a bit more difficult, so it was important for him to score points.
“At least he won’t have any more the question about when he will get the first points. The pace was there and he did a very strong race, and it was an important step in his own season.
“We had the two cars in sixth and seventh on the grid, and the target was to finish in the points. We understood before the race that it would be difficult to keep Sebastian [Vettel] behind, and even [Pierre] Gasly.
“We had the top six cars in front us, plus the two McLarens. I think it was more or less the best we could achieve. So let’s see the next one.”
Vasseur said he was pleased to see Raikkonen run as high as fourth in the early stages in Austria, although he suggested that the Finn’s overall race was compromised as he tried to stay ahead of faster cars: “He had a good start but perhaps he was a bit optimistic in the first laps!
“We were with the softs, and we had to avoid damaging the tyres. But I can understand perfectly the situation, it was a good fight for him.”