Kimi Raikkonen believes Alfa Romeo face "a big balancing act" this season if the car's performance in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix is anything to go by.
While Alfa Romeo significantly improved its result in comparison to last year's race due to a new Ferrari power unit, its pace was undone by the fact the C41 was too heavy on its tyres to break into the points.
After Raikkonen and team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi finished 15th and 16th of the 18 classified in November, the Finn and the Italian were 11th and 12th four months later, with the 41-year-old veteran just a second behind Aston Martin's Lance Stroll in 10th.
While recognising the improvements that have been made, Raikkonen believes more work is required on the tyre front to break into the top 10.
"It was obviously disappointing to get that close and not score any points," assessed Raikkonen.
"I think generally it wasn’t bad but I think we need to be a bit faster because we had to look after the tyres quite a bit. I think the cars that were in front of us were a bit better so they could push a bit harder.
“It’s a big balancing act. If we take the fight too early to them we will just fall off but I think it’s better than last year when we were here but obviously we want more.
“There is some work to be done. It wasn’t too bad but we cannot be too happy either not to score points.”
Looking ahead to the second race of the year at Imola in mid-April, Giovinazzi sought comfort in Alfa Romeo's qualifying pace.
With the Italian lining up 12th on the grid and Raikkonen 14th, both escaped Q1, a feat the team achieved just once last year.
"I think our pace in quali is not too bad," said Giovinazzi. "In Imola, we know overtaking is not easy so we need to focus more on that but I think for a start, compared to last year, we need to be happy.”
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