Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has described the struggling Mercedes F1 team as a "carrot" to be caught.
Mercedes has been the benchmark in F1 since the introduction of the hybrid power units in 2014 with the team securing eight consecutive constructors' titles.
But the team has struggled to get to grips with the new technical regulations this year with Toto Wolff conceding Mercedes to be the third-fastest car and in a "no man's land" between Ferrari and Red Bull and the chasing pack.
In the current standings, Alpine sits fourth with Fernando Alonso's retirement in Saudi Arabia the team's only zero points score from the opening two races.
"It is a carrot, it’s a carrot to keep pushing," said Szafnauer.
"It will take us a few races, a variety of races to assess where we are in the pecking order then, like I said, it will be a development race."
After Esteban Ocon outpaced both Mercedes drivers in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Szafnauer reflected: "[On] race pace, watching the race, they are clearly ahead of us.
"Maybe they had some issues in qualifying.
"We’re going to push hard to try and compete with them but sitting here today it looks totally like they have a better race car than us."
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